Thanksgiving Side Dishes

5 Non-Traditional Treats That Will Accent Your Meal

It’s that time of year again where we pause to give Thanksgiving. There is lots to be thankful for like our health, our jobs, the little getaways we were able to go on, and of course, our families & loved ones. In all holidays across all cultures, food celebrates the holiday event and Thanksgiving is no different. Turkey, potatoes, cranberries, pumpkin pie, and more Thanksgiving side dishes generally makeup the food we eat for this holiday. Although the traditional meal is wonderful, it is also good to change it up some, possibly creating new family food traditions. 

5 Thanksgiving Dinner Sides

For some of us, thinking about new or healthy Thanksgiving side dishes can be tough. Especially when thoughts of mashed potatoes and gravy are flowing through your head. At HealthCARE Express, we have uncovered 5 different Thanksgiving sides that are not only delicious but are also healthier than candied yams. These recipes will not only please your tongue but will please your stomach and waistline as well

Cranberry Jalapeno Dip

This easy Thanksgiving appetizer will get your party started right. The dip is a cream cheese dip with cranberries, jalapenos, scallions, cilantro, & lemon juice. These flavors are carefully combined to produce a creamy dip with a tart accent along with an undertone of spice from the jalapeno. A perfect starter to your feast that will leave your family craving for the wondrous Thanksgiving food you’ve created next.


  • 12 ounces of fresh cranberries
  • 2-3 jalapenos - seeded & finely diced
  • 4 green onions - sliced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of fresh cilantro - chopped
  • 1 lemon - juiced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese - softened
  • bread or crackers for serving


  1. Chop (or use food processor) cranberries into coarse small pieces
  2. Mix all ingredients together (except cream cheese) until blended well. Let the mixture sit for 30-60 minutes, up to 48 hours
  3. Whip cream cheese with a blender for 1-2 minutes. Spread cream cheese evenly along the bottom of a pie pan
  4. Strain small batches of the cranberry mixture through a mesh sieve removing most of the juice (but not all). Add drained cranberry mixture to the cream cheese base
  5. Serve with bread, crackers, bagels, etc

Sourdough Sausage & Wild Mushroom Stuffing

Did you know that sourdough bread is one of the healthiest breads you can eat? You’d never know by how good it tastes. This dressing combines 3 great foods that will compliment your turkey the way only Bobby Flay can. Unlike box stuffing, this homemade stuffing is much healthier. Mainly because of using better bread and fresh vegetables while not using preservatives, sugar, and other additives. It is amazing how “fresh” makes a difference. Make this Thanksgiving stuffing taste even better by using pastured ground pork.


  • 1 pound sourdough bread - cubed
  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons of crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon of grated fresh nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons of butter or olive oil
  • 1 pound of mixed wild mushrooms
  • 3 large shallots - sliced
  • 3 celery ribs - minced
  • 3 cups of chopped Swiss chard (or 1/2 bunch of kale)
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage - chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic - chopped
  • 1 lemon - zested & juiced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley - chopped (and a little extra for garnish)
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth - low sodium
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt & pepper


  1. Heat oven to 350º. Place baking rack on the middle shelf
  2. Coat a 9"x 13" baking dish with butter or non-stick spray
  3. On a baking sheet, arrange bread in an even layer and bake for 20-25 minutes or until bread is toasted or starting to brown
  4. While bread is toasting, cook pork on a stove for 3-4 minutes or until fully cooked. Stir in fennel seeds, nutmeg, & pepper flakes cooking for another minute. Season with salt & pepper and transfer mixture to a large bowl
  5. In the same pan as the pork was cooked in, heat butter/oil over medium heat. Add in mushrooms and shallots cooking until all liquid is gone and mushrooms are browned (about 10-12 minutes).
  6. Stir in celery and cook for 2 more minutes
  7. Stir in garlic, sage, & Swiss chard cooking for about 30 seconds.
  8. Add in lemon juice then transfer mixture to the bowl with the pork mixture. Add salt & pepper to taste
  9. To bowl mixture, add bread, parsley, and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest. Toss mixture
  10. In a separate bowl, combine eggs and chicken broth thoroughly. Add combined mixture to the bowl and thoroughly combine
  11. Add mixture to 9"x13" pan evenly. Cover tightly with foil.
  12. Bake dressing for 20 minutes
  13. Remove foil and continue baking until golden brown and edges are crisp (about 30-40 minutes)
  14. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add parsley to garnish. Enjoy

Buttermilk Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes

Over 1/3rd of Americans rate potatoes as their favorite Thanksgiving side dish. Thanks to companies such as Starbucks, Kellogg’s, & Chobani, we know that pumpkin can taste good in just about anything. This Thanksgiving, consider these mashed potatoes to bring an added “wow” factor to your dinner. A very easy Thanksgiving side to make, these potatoes will leave a creamy, rich taste in your mouth while providing you with all the health benefits that pumpkin has to offer. And don’t worry, you can pour gravy all over these mashed potatoes.


  • 4 pounds of russet potatoes (or your favorite type of potatoes) - peeled & cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 15 ounces of can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons butter - melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme - minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg - grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • salt & pepper


  1. Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water 1 inch above the potato line. Add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring water to a boil and then down to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are soft (15-18 minutes)
  2. While potatoes are cooking, in a bowl combine pumpkin, buttermilk, butter, nutmeg, thyme, & white pepper
  3. Once cooked, drain potatoes. Mash potatoes in a pot until smooth or only a few lumps remain
  4. Gently add the pumpkin mixture and fold until fully combined.
  5. Season with salt & pepper and enjoy

Wild Rice With Butternut Squash

If mashed potatoes are not your thing, this wild rice recipe just might. This gluten-free Thanksgiving side dish is chalked full of butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, pistachio seeds, and even honey (or agave syrup if you are vegan). The blend of these flavors will create an array of pleasure in your mouth while being surprisingly light on your stomach. 


  • 2 cups wild rice - uncooked
  • 2 medium-sized butternut squashes - cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1 pomegranate)
  • 1 cup pistachios - shelled
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of honey (or agave syrup)


  1. Preheat oven to 450º
  2. Cook rice as per package directions
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and spread out butternut squash evenly
  4. Bake squash for 15 minutes, flip squash and bake for another 10-15 minutes (should be slightly brown on both sides)
  5. Once both rice and squash is cooked, let cool fully
  6. In a large bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, & honey/agave
  7. Add cooled rice and butternut squash to the large bowl and thoroughly combine
  8. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Although 3 bean casserole is a traditional favorite amongst many families, acorn squash is even more traditional as it was served at the first Thanksgiving. It is easy to see why as these squash are just now becoming ripe and they are super tasty. This recipe is amazing, combining both American and Mediterranean flavors into a dish that could be a centerpiece. Plus, this dish is completely vegan so you don’t have to feel guilty about the wonderful tastes you are consuming. If you have never tried acorn squash, we encourage you to as the flavor of this squash variety is unmatched.


  • 4 acorn squash
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon onion - diced
  • 1 cup carrots - diced
  • 1/2 cup celery - diced
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas - rinsed & drained
  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes - halved or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves - minced
  • salt & pepper


  1. Place uncut acorn squash onto the center rack of the oven. Heat oven to 400º with squash inside. When the oven reaches 400º, carefully remove squash and allow them to cool. Do not turn the oven off
  2. Once acorn squash are cool enough to handle, cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds
  3. Get a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. Place squash cut side down on the baking sheet
  4. Bake for 40 minutes or until nearly tender. Remove from oven and carefully turn squash over so cut side is up. Allow to cool
  5. Prepare quinoa as per package instructions. Once cooked, set aside to cool
  6. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat
  7. Add onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent
  8. Add carrots and celery and cook until soft
  9. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds
  10. Add chickpeas, quinoa, tomatoes, thyme, and lemon juice stirring occasionally
  11. Add salt & pepper as desired
  12. Spoon mixture into acorn squash halves.
  13. Bake 10-15 minutes or until squash is tender
  14. Serve immediately and enjoy

HealthCARE Express Wants You To Enjoy Thanksgiving

At your Thanksgiving, we hope that you get to enjoy the time you will be spending with family and friends. We also hope that you enjoy your food. These new and healthier Thanksgiving side dishes are our way to help you try & enjoy new food while keeping somewhat health-conscious. We will be enjoying these recipes, along with pumpkin pie, while we give thanks to the wonderful communities that our urgent care centers serve. From our families to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Return to blog