The hour draws close, nearly at hand now. The rest of your family might have forgotten about it, but you haven’t. The oven seems to warm before you’ve turned the knob as if it too has sensed it in the air and awakened as naturally as the beating of the heart. The season of harvest is upon us, and the seeds of summer now bear their fruit.
Well, okay, we’ve waxed poetic on what many consider just a larger-than-usual grocery run and a few hours of sweating it out in the kitchen for a few hours. But that just proves the point that you can make something delightful out of something simple, and side dishes are no exception.
Thanksgiving is upon us, and that means the feast must be prepared. Of course, you have all the main stuff down pat: the oven-roasted turkey that fills the house with its delicious aroma and the ham that everyone keeps grabbing a slice of no matter how many hands you slap. But why not go the extra mile? Why not throw in some healthy yet easy-to-make side dishes as well?
With that in mind, here are a few easy and healthy side dishes to serve up with that huge turkey.
Very little can go wrong with plopping a bowl of this down on the table. Mashed potatoes are a staple for a reason: they’re pretty nutritious and have gone down as one of the parts of a Thanksgiving dinner least regretted about eating.
To help maintain their nutritional value, we recommend leaving at least some potato skins on the potato as the skin is where most of the nutrition is found. Some chefs go through the trouble of removing the skins before cooking. However, we have found it easier to remove the skins after the potatoes are boiled. If you do it this way, you have to be very careful and run the potatoes under cold water while removing the skins. But we’ve found the inconvenience of reheating the potatoes is a small price to pay for the time it takes to skin a raw potato.
In either case, put your potatoes in boiling water for 15 minutes (pro tip: put salt in the water). Check the potatoes while boiling to make sure they are done, as you should be able to insert a knife easily through the spud.
Once the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, combine them in a large bowl with a stick of butter and two cups of milk. Use a hand mixer to begin whipping the potatoes. Keep the milk handy and add more milk as needed to get a nice, creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Three alternatives to traditional mashed potatoes:
- Dice chive and cilantro very finely and add them to the mix for a fresh flavor.
- Chop fresh thyme and juice a lemon, whisk together and add it to the mashed potatoes to taste.
- Add crushed and roasted garlic to the potatoes to fancy up the side dish by creating garlic mashed potatoes.
The debate still rages between those who love or hate broccoli. However, there is no debate that this is a highly nutritious vegetable. We can do so many things with them to make them quite tasty – even for the nay-sayers. One option is to roast them! No, not steaming or boiling them. Those cooking methods are an option, but we’re determined to make a stand-out dish here.
For this one, brush the broccoli with olive oil and place it on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Dust the broccoli with salt and a pinch of pepper and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. This roasting technique changes the flavor of the broccoli to a more earthy tone that many go over better with some family members than just boiling them.
If you want to add a layer of love to them, pour a warm cheese sauce over top moments before serving the broccoli.
Casseroles (Cheesy Potato)
So let’s say you’ve made way too many mashed potatoes, or you’re looking for an easy but delicious alternative. This recipe for a cheesy mashed potato casserole is sure to win over everyone at the dinner table.
Start with 30 oz of those mashed potatoes you made in our first recipe. The garlic mashed potatoes or the cilantro and chive mashed potatoes we recommended work well for this recipe. In addition to the mashed potatoes, you’re going to need a can of cream of chicken soup, half a cup of butter, a pint of sour cream, a tablespoon of salt, a cup of onions (chopped), and two cups of cheese (shredded).
Set the oven to 350 degrees, toss all the ingredients into a bowl until well blended. Pour the mixture into an ungreased baking dish (for this amount of ingredients, you might want a 13×9) and let it cook for 45 minutes.
Bam! Done! You’ve made a delicious and nutritious Thanksgiving dinner, and you still have enough time to contemplate starting on that Christmas list.