Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes for Thanksgiving: A Recipe Roundup

If you asked a group of registered dietitians (especially dietitians who also write food blogs) what they’re making for Thanksgiving dinner, chances are, they’d all say …

The vegetable side dish.

Thats’s what we’d say!

Healthy Thanksgiving side dishes from registered dietitians #RDN

Dietitians love vegetables—that’s pretty obvious!—and Thanksgiving is the perfect time of year to show off the freshest produce of the season. We asked Blog Brûlée alumni to share their favorite holiday side dishes, and here’s what we got … and we also tossed in one of our own Meal Makeover Mom veggie creations.

Read on for over a dozen healthy vegetable (and one fruit) side dishes that are light, nutritious, and won’t leave you feeling like a stuffed bird.

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A Healthy Pin It Party: Blue Plate Special

Finding healthy recipes on Pinterest is getting a whole lot easier these days thanks to Pin It Parties like the one being hosted by Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean.

Healthy Eating Pin It Party at The Lean Green Bean

To participate in the party, we were asked to write a post featuring five of our favorite recipes that we wanted to see on Pinterest, so we chose some of our healthiest and prettiest creations, all photographed on beautiful blue dishes. (If you follow our blog, you probably know by now that Liz is obsessed with blue dishware!)

Why pretty plates and bowls? Well, if you have picky eaters at home, something as simple as presenting your food on an eye-catching dish can convince them to take that first important bite.

Welcome to our Blue Plate Special … and please PIN away!! 

A gluten-free side dish or main meal -- Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots

Quinoa with Almonds & Apricots is gluten free, vegetarian and vegan, filled with flavor, and can be served as a side dish or main meal.

A wild blueberry oat cake with a healthy frosting made with low-fat Greek yogurt

Wild Blueberry Oat Cake with Greek Yogurt Frosting is a treat you can serve at breakfast, snack, or dessert. You’ll never make cream cheese frosting again after you try our healthier Greek yogurt version.

Canned Beefaroni gets a healthy makeover

Is it humanly possible to give canned macaroni and beef dinners (AKA Beefaroni) a healthy makeover? Heck yes! Our Homemade Healthy Beefaroni is hearty, delicious, and features lean ground beef and three vegetables.

A healthy and hearty winter soup with a Tex-Mex flavor

South-of-the-Border Tortilla Soup is one of those quick weeknight recipes you’ll want to make again and again for your family. It’s healthy and hearty and hits the spot when the weather turns cool.

Morning oats topped with Concord grapes, dried fruit, and walnuts

Why eat plain old oatmeal when you can easily cook up our Morning Oats with Concord Grapes, Dried Cranberries, and Walnuts. And don’t forget the Vermont maple syrup!

Do you have a similar obsession with dishes? Do you have a favorite plate or bowl you find yourself turning to again and again? Let us know … and have fun pinning :)

Family, Food, and Fun in Olympia, Washington

Any time I have an excuse to visit my two sisters and their families in the Pacific Northwest, I jump at it. The wedding of my niece, Nicole, was the perfect reason to book four cross-country flights to Seattle for a nine-day family vacation. The timing was perfect: Carolyn starts her new job mid August, so this will probably be our last family vacation for a while. And speaking of perfect, the weather was just that. We had sunny skies every day, so I’m not sure what all that rainy Seattle weather talk is all about! Nicole and Miles via

Newlyweds, Nicole and Miles! The wedding at Laurel Creek Manor, in Sumner, WA was amazing. :)

Bissex family via

So fun to have the whole family together to celebrate!

Puget Sound via

We spent several nights at my sister, Lori’s house. Check out the view of Puget Sound (Budd Inlet) and Mount Rainier from her street.

Boating with Cowboy Chili via

Lori and Chris took us all for a boat ride to downtown Olympia. Lori served her famous Cowboy Caviar en route, and it was devoured by all, including my corn-averse daughter, Leah.


This Cowboy Caviar is a great side dish for a picnic or cookout!

Salmon in Olympia via

What would a trip to the Pacific Northwest be without grilled salmon? Served with brown rice, salad from my sister’s garden, and a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir, it was a meal fit for a king.

Budd Inlet

One more day of boating, tubing, and jet skiing before we headed off to the Olympic Peninsula.

Olympic Peninsula via

The Hoh Rain Forest on the west end of the Olympic Peninsula receives up to 16 feet of rain per year and the Hall of Mosses trail features – you guessed it – moss-covered trees and a stunning waterfall.

Olympic National Forest

The Olympic Mountains are breathtaking, and there are hiking trails and incredibly tall trees everywhere.

Forks, WA

If you have a teenager you have probably heard of Forks, WA. This is the setting of the popular Twilight series. Leah has read all the books and our visit to Forks was a highlight for her (second only to tubing in Puget Sound with Uncle Chris).

Quilcene National Fish Hatchery

I admit there were a few eye rolls when I announced that I wanted to make a pit stop off 101 to visit the Quilcene National Fish Hatchery. This hatchery has been around for over 100 years, and they raise coho salmon and steelhead trout.

Every year, over 400,000 coho salmon are released directly into the Quilcene River and another 200,000 are transferred to the Skokomish tribal net pen in Quilcene Bay. Amazing!

So, that’s a little taste of my recent travel adventures. Stay tuned for highlights from the Oregon portion of our trip, including visits to a cheese-making factory, olive oil farm, and local corn dog fry!

8 Healthy Summer Picnic Recipes for Your Family {Podcast #247}

The most popular day for picnics in the United States is July 4th, so we’re just in time with this roundup of healthy and delicious picnic-friendly recipes. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms podcast, we serve up our Watermelon Strawberry Punch, Blueberry Banana S’mores, and six other must-make summer recipes from fellow food bloggers around the web. Read on for links to all the recipes, and be sure to tune in!

Healthy Picnic Recipes via

Liz is partial to picnics on the beach; Janice prefers picnics lakeside. But no matter where you set down your blanket and picnic basket, the key is to show up equipped with healthy, mouth-watering recipes the whole family will love.

We surfed the internet for recipes we would want to pack for our families, and here’s what we came up with! (Starting top/left and moving clockwise): 

Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen: Watermelon Strawberry Punch

Picky Palate: Roasted Chicken Quinoa Salad

Two Peas and Their Pod: Southwestern Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen: Blueberry Banana S’mores

Juggling with Julia: Thai Grilled Chicken with Honey and Lime

Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: Best Homemade Granola Bars

Teaspoon of Spice: Broccoli and Carrot Raisin Slaw

A Bachelor and His Grill: Creamy Avocado Greek Yogurt Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips

Feel free to weigh in with your go-to picnic faves …

Veggie Quiche Patties for the March Recipe Redux Cooking Challenge, PLUS: Why Home Ec Should be Taught in Schools

We were super excited last week when Michelle Obama announced her new Let’s Move initiative to encourage families to get back into the kitchen to cook together. At the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Building a Healthier Future Summit in Washington DC, she said that getting everyone cooking more “can fundamentally change the way families take control of their own health.” Well, we couldn’t agree more, and in fact, here at Meal Makeover Moms, we’ve been on the front lines of family cooking for well over a decade. To that end, we break down the barriers to healthy home cooking with easy, affordable, and super flavorful recipes families love. This new recipe for Veggie Quiche Patties fits that bill 100 percent!

Veggie Quiche Patties via #eggs #SwissChard #kids #cooking

For this month’s Recipe Redux healthy cooking food blogger challenge, we were assigned the task of creating a patty; something cute, fun to eat, and stack-able. We kept our recipe simple—it calls for eggs, cheese, Swiss chard (or spinach), onion and garlic—and we cooked it in muffin tins. Kids and caregivers can easily make this recipe together.

Swiss chard via

Our Veggie Quiche Patties call for one bunch of Swiss chard, stemmed, trimmed, and chopped. We’ve been finding gorgeous Swiss chard at the market lately, but you could certainly use a 6-ounce bag of baby spinach if you prefer.

Veggie Quiche Patties via

Some kids shy away from eating things that are green. If that describes your child, then change the name of the recipe to entice them to take a bite. Try names like Baby Omelets, Hockey Pucks You Can Eat, Mini Frisbees … whatever it takes! (More Picky Eater Makeover tips on our main site.)

Veggie Quiche Patties

Makes 4 Servings

We’d love to see the re-introduction of Home Economics classes in schools! Teaching kids how to cook is critical if we’re going to stem the tide of obesity and poor nutrition. It makes sense, and it’s a gift. When kids gain confidence in the kitchen, they grow up knowing how to prepare healthy meals for themselves and for their own kids one day. These adorable patties are easy enough for kids to make (with supervision, of course, depending on their ages), and they also accomplish the goal of getting everyone to eat more vegetables!

  • 1/2 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs removed, leaves cut into thin strips, washed and dried in a salad spinner
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (we used parsley and tarragon)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil or coat 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute, until golden and fragrant. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and the Swiss chard and cook, stirring often, until wilted, about 7 minutes. Keep a watchful eye and adjust heat accordingly. Season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Remove to a cutting board, cool slightly, and coarsely chop.

3. Place the eggs, cheese, and herbs in a large bowl and whisk together until well combined. Stir in the chopped vegetables. Using a tablespoon measure, pour the egg mixture evenly into each of the muffin cups. (You’ll end up with about 2 tablespoons per muffin cup.) Smooth the tops.

4. Bake until golden brown and the eggs are set, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly, remove from muffin cups, and serve at breakfast, lunch, dinner, or for a snack.  :)

Nutrition Information per Serving (3 patties):  200 calories, 13g fat (4.5g saturated), 460mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 16g protein, 150% vitamin A, 60% vitamin C, 25% calcium, 20% iron

Print Recipe

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions for Thanksgivukkuh

Creative cooks are having a field day with this year’s November 28th Thanksgivukkah “holiday” when the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving. Don’t hold your breath, because these two holidays won’t collide again for another 70,000 years. started a Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board with images of turkey-shaped challah bread, Brussels sprouts latkes, cranberry applesauce, pumpkin donuts, and other hybrid food creations. This once-in-a-lifetime holiday is definitely bringing out some interesting flavor combinations!

Roasted Squash with Apples and Onions via #Thanksgivukkah

Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions was created by Tina Wasserman, Food Editor at and author of the new cookbook, Entrée to Judaism for Families: Jewish Cooking and Kitchen Conversations with Children (scheduled for release December 2, 2013). When we looked at the book (we received a preview copy from our dietitian friend, Robin Plotkin who is helping to promote the book), we thought this side dish would be perfect for anyone’s Thanksgivukkah table.

Can you spot the onion that looks like a menorah???

Entree To Judiasm

Other recipes in the book include Three-Ingredient Brisket, Quick Honey Cake, and Barley Salad with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate Dressing. Sounds good to us!

butternut squash via

Tina’s roasted butternut squash gets topped with dried cranberries, pine nuts, and cinnamon. Lots of color means it’s filled with lots of great nutrition; vitamin A, fiber, heart-healthy fats … we could go on and on …

butternut squash via

For the Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples and Onions recipe, visit (We cut the squash into 3/4-inch dice vs. 1 inch, but otherwise, we didn’t make any adjustments to the recipe). Overall, we loved the flavor, especially the way the balsamic vinegar brought out the sweetness of the apples and squash.


10 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes {Podcast #232}

It’s time to talk turkey and all the luscious side dishes that go with it. On this week’s Cooking with the Moms radio podcast, we served up 10 amazingly delicious and healthy side dishes from fellow dietitians across the web. Read on for links to all the recipes, and don’t forget to swing by iTunes to download our show, or listen right here.

10 Healthy Thanksgiving Side Dishes via

Looking for ways to indulge in your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes without feeling like a stuffed bird at the end of the meal? These 10 better-for-you recipes are lower in fat and calories than their traditional counterparts, are made with wholesome and natural ingredients, and they taste just as good!

Red Quinoa & Cranberry Salad from Kumquat is gorgeous to look at, gluten free, and it’s made with a super-flavorful blend of fresh mint and parsley, pecans, champagne vinegar, lemon, and honey.

Colorful Cabbage Salad with Apples, Walnuts & Dried Cranberries from Mom’s Kitchen Handbook comes together beautifully with a dressing of apple cider vinegar, olive oil and maple syrup.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts and Cherries from Healthy Aperture is super simple, and on the blog, you’ll also find this How-To Video on cutting, peeling, and cubing butternut squash. How cool is that?!

Buttermilk Whipped Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes from Prevention RD is a slimmed down version of regular mashed potatoes. By adding cauliflower, buttermilk, and light cream cheese, this traditional side dish is better than ever.

artichoke squares

Amazingly Addictive Artichoke Squares. Image by The Spicy RD Blog.

Artichoke Squares from The Spicy RD Blog is an appetizer you’ll definitely want to make for your holiday table. The squares are made with marinated artichoke hearts, bread crumbs, eggs, cheese and lots of other yumminess.

Ginger Cranberry Sauce from Teaspoon of Spice is made with fresh ginger, honey, and orange zest; the perfect compliment to turkey.

Creamy Corn Muffins from The Nutrition Twins are made with real corn (!) as well as Greek yogurt and light sour cream. We want one :)

Thanksgiving Casseroles via

If you haven’t tried ’em already, be sure to check out our Brussels Sprouts Gratin and our Pecan-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole. Both are traditional in flavor but gentle on the waistline.

Quinoa & Kale Crustless Quiche from Food Confidence is gluten free, and it’s made with some of our favorite ingredients: quinoa, feta cheese, eggs, and kale!

What side dishes are you making for Thanksgiving? Any makeovers on your menu? Do tell …


How to Roast Sweet Potatoes … and a Recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Coconut Oil

If one of your mealtime goals is to get your family to eat more vegetables, this is the time of year to put that goal into action. From Brussels sprouts and butternut squash to pumpkin and sweet potatoes, autumn’s bounty of veggies is a mom’s best friend. One of the secrets to getting kids to try a variety of vegetables and to love them is roasting, a preparation that brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables.

How to Roast Sweet Potatoes via

Roasted sweet potatoes are a simple side dish for any weeknight family dinner. They’re rich in immune-boosting vitamin A and are a good source of many nutrients including vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Once roasted, slice each one open and top with a pat of butter and a pinch of cinnamon, or if you’ve been assigned a Thanksgiving side dish, use them in a luscious sweet potato casserole. (For casseroles, we prefer roasting to boiling or steaming since the latter yields soggy sweet potatoes.) Read on for our tried-and-true sweet potato roasting technique:

How to roast sweet potatoes via

Start with three pounds of sweet potatoes. We chose medium-size potatoes for a total of five.

How to roast sweet potatoes via

Place one tablespoon of virgin coconut oil in a small bowl and melt in the microwave.

How to roast sweet potatoes via

Place potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet. Pierce each potato multiple times with a sharp knife. Use a pastry brush to brush the coconut oil over each sweet potato. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

As the sweet potatoes roast, the aroma of the coconut oil and sweet potatoes will make your house smell like candy. Amazing!!

How to roast sweet potatoes via

Roast the potatoes at 400°F for 45 to an hour, until soft and easily pierced with the tip of a knife. Dig in!!

How to Roast Brussels Sprouts … And a Recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Basil Pesto

They’re baaaack! If you thought pumpkin was the “it” vegetable this fall, think again. Brussels sprouts are where it’s at; they’re taking over the web, and chances are, this vitamin-rich vegetable will end up on your holiday table this year. If you’ve tried our Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe or listened to our podcast on this cruciferous veggie, you’re probably already hooked, but if you’re still afraid to let a sprout cross your lips (or if you have picky eaters who get freaked out by the thought), you’ll definitely want to try our newest recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Basil Pesto. As you’ll see, the trick to tender, melt-in-your-mouth Brussels sprouts is the roasting technique. Read on for our How-to-Roast Brussels sprouts secrets …

How to Roast Brussels Sprouts via

To roast Brussels sprouts, start by trimming the bottoms and removing any tough or wilted outer leaves.

How to roast Brussels sprouts via

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the Brussels sprouts, and boil for six minutes. This works wonders in terms of tenderizing the sprouts, and it also shortens the roasting time.

how to roast brussels sprouts via

Drain the Brussels sprouts and immerse in a large bowl of ice water. This helps to cool down the Brussels sprouts and halt the cooking process.

How to roast Brussels sprouts via

Drain well and then slice each Brussels sprout in half.

How to roast Brussels sprouts via

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the Brussels sprouts in a bowl and toss with basil pesto, salt, and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, turning after 10 minutes, until tender.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Basil Pesto via

Season with additional salt and pepper, and top with lightly toasted pine nuts and shaved Parmesan cheese. They add flavor and boost the eye appeal!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Basil Pesto

Makes 4 Servings

One cup of raw Brussels sprouts has well over a day’s worth of vitamins C and K. Just like broccoli and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable, which means that eating them offers protection against cancer. The best news of all is that Brussels sprouts — if cooked just right — really taste great. For this recipe, go ahead and double or triple if you’re cooking for a crowd.

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lightly toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. Trim the brown base from the bottom of each sprout. Remove any damaged outer leaves.

2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the Brussels sprouts, bring the water back to a boil, and boil for 6 minutes. Drain and immediately immerse in a large bowl of ice water. When the Brussels sprouts are cool, drain well. Place on a cutting board, and cut each Brussels sprout in half, lengthwise.

3. Place the halved Brussels sprouts in a bowl and toss with the basil pesto, salt, and pepper until well coated. Place on the prepared baking sheet and bake, 15 minutes, until tender, stirring after 10 minutes.

4. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. To serve, top with Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

Nutrition Information per Serving (about 1/2 cup): 110 calories, 6g fat (1g saturated), 220mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 4g protein, 15% vitamin A, 160% vitamin C

Let us know if you try the recipe … especially at the holidays :)

How to Roast Brussels Sprouts via

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