Dish Out Healthier Supportive Side Dishes This Thanksgiving

By November 25, 2019 No Comments

Oh hey holidays! How’d you get here so fast? I mean, I blinked and it went from Summer to snow! What does colder weather mean to me as a nutrition coach? It means pushing harder- motivating my clients even more through accountability practices to avoid being overrun by cold weather behaviors. One of them being taking charge of meal prep before, during, + after holiday events.

Approaching every meal with these concepts:

  • MAKE IT PRETTY: every meal (or dish) should have a variety of colored veggies with a healthy load of dark, leafy greens. Ideally mixing raw + cooked veggies.
  • GRAIN ADD-INS: trying new fiber-filled grains in the correct serving size. In what used to be ‘grain-based’ dishes, I instead make them add-ins with veggies to add volume to the dish and keep the portions appropriate with fiber-filled grains.
  • FIT FATS: using healthy fats to cook + to prep sauces, dressings, et al. is a great way to add energy +
  • CLEAN PROTEINS: proteins are not the meal base- they are the add-ons. 3-4 oz. servings per meal is ideal to maintain proper digestion and not create a food back-up in your system.
During the holiday season I always offer to bring some dishes to any party, gathering, or seated dinner. I love to show people how healthier doesn’t mean boring, basic, or bland. Here are some dishes I have prepared to bring nutrient-dense dishes to the table.
I taped a segment for @fox32news last week for healthier holiday side dishes and I wanted to write out a detailed outline of the reason for these recipes, what they can do for you, and how to prep!



Caramelized Brussels Sprouts: serves 6

THIS DISH IS AN EXAMPLE: taking a classic side dish with a veggie base + prepare it in a way that adds depth to the flavor (caramelizing) while adding in colorful, raw veggies for added flavor + nutrients.

What You Need:

  • 1 1/4 LBS Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed + halved
  • 1/8 cup + 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB ghee
  • 2 pinches of Himalayan crystal salt
  • for cooking- a healthy drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 persimmons, sliced
  • 1 large watermelon radish, julienned
  • 1/2 lemon, for squeezing

To Make:

  1. Steam the sprouts in a microwaveable glass dish with a bit of water for 4-5 minutes; or until tender. Drain + pat with paper towels until excess liquid is removed.
  2. Heat the olive oil + ghee in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the Brussels sprouts in a single layer. Cook until browned-roughly 4-5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the persimmons + julienne the radish. Set aside.
  4. When the sprouts have browned, flip over + cook for another 3 minutes.
  5. Remove to a serving platter, sprinkle with salt, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and squeeze the lemon over them. Add in the radish + persimmons- gently toss.



  • A leaf veggie from the cabbage family closely related to cauliflower, kale, and mustard greens, they are like little lettuce babies. High in fiber, immune-boosting Vitamin C, and bone-supportive Vitamin K.
  • As well as being low in calories but extremely filling, these sprouts contain kaempferol, an antioxidant that may reduce cancer cell growth, ease inflammation and improve heart health.


  • Persimmons are high in fat-soluble vitamin A, antioxidant vitamin C and energy-promoting B vitamins along with potassium and manganese.
  • Persimmons have a high level of flavonoids in their skin- which are said to help lower the rates of heart disease.
  • Persimmons are also rich in carotenoid antioxidants like beta-carotene, a pigment found in many orange/yellowcolored fruits + vegetables.
  • Their high vitamin A, lutein, + zeaxanthin content supports healthy vision.
  • Their vitamin C content helps lower inflammation; a common cause of many diseases, as well as providing immune support.


  • Radish bulbs, often called “globes,” are peppery in flavor and come in many different varieties + colors.
  • Vitamin C content- 1/2 cup of radishes offers about 14 % of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C; an antioxidant that helps fight against free radicals in your body and helps prevent cell damage. Vitamin C also aids in the production of collagen, which supports healthy skin and blood vessels.
  • Fiber + water content aid in improved digestion.
  • Good levels of potassium + folate.
  • Cancer-Fighting Properties:
    • Radishes also contain phytochemicals such as indoles; an anti-cancer property often found throughout the Brassica family of veggies.
    • Radishes also contain an important isothiocyanate antioxidant compound called sulforaphane; a potential cancer fighter.
  • TIP: save the radish greens to add to a salad or use in a pesto


Delicata Squash Salad: serves 6

What You Need:

For the salad:

  • 1 whole (roughly 2 LBS) delicata squash, halved, seeds removed, + sliced
  • 12 cups mixed greens
  • 2 shallots, sliced + pan-grilled
  • 1/2 cup Goji berries; soaked in water, then pat dry
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • OPTIONAL added color + depth: 2 small heads of radicchio; coarsely chopped + pan-grilled

For Ashley’s sweet balsamic dressing:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup paleo mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos
  • dash of black pepper + Himalayan crystal salt

To Make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the squash on a baking sheet + brush lightly on both sides with coconut oil. Roast until lightly browned- roughly 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, hydrate the goji berries with water for 10 minutes. Drain + dry with paper towels.
  3. Pan-grill the shallots with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, over medium heat. Cook until lightly browned-roughly 6 minutes.
  4. Prep the dressing in a small bowl. Stirring well.
  5. Place the mixed greens in a large serving bowl. Toss in the pumpkin seeds, Goji berries, shallots, + squash – dress + gently mix.



  • Delicata squash is a good source of potassium, iron, + dietary fiber, especially with the skin on. It also contains magnesium, manganese, and vitamins C + B.
  • Fiber-rich foods like this squash, served with the skin on, help aid in proper digestion.
  • A dose of Iron  is good because iron is needed to help with healthy cell production in our bodies- it aids with the formation of proteins that are able to provide oxygen to the body, muscles + bloodstream. The growth of the cells requires iron to help with the process.
  • Delicata squash contains calcium that can help strengthen those bones.
  • The vitamin C content boosts the immune system- which is great this time of year.


  • Dark green veggies are a rich source of minerals including: iron, calcium, potassium, + magnesium. They also provide important vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, + many of the B vitamins.
  • Many dark green veggies are packed with phytonutrients, including: beta-carotene, lutein, + zeaxanthin; providing us with better eye health + preventing cell damage.


Fall Panzanella Bowl (Instead of stuffing…): serves 6 

What You Need:

  • 3 whole grain baguettes, day-old + coarsely chopped (I use gluten-free or against the grain)- slice, rub with olive oil + a garlic clove on both sides
  • 2 organic apples, sliced
  • 4 pieces of Italian chicken sausage,
  • 2+ cups of microgreens or watercress
  • Dressing:
    • 1 ½TB stone ground mustard
    • 2TB balsamic vinegar
    • 2 TB sage, chopped
    • 1 ½TB honey
    • 3TB extra virgin olive oil
    • 2TB water; only to thin
    • Sea salt, to taste

To Make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the baguettes, rub with oil + garlic on both sides. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, turn over, + bake until the other side is browned.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the chicken sausage in a pan over medium heat until fully cooked. Remove + add in the apple slices + pan-grill until lightly browned.
  3. Prep the dressing in a small bowl.
  4. Mix all ingredients in a serving bowl, adding in the microgreens last + drizzle with dressing.



  • Microgreens are babies…basically the infants of their adult/mature counterparts…because of their infancy, they are loaded with nutrients despite their tiny size.
  • They’re flavorful and packed with nutrients like vitamins C, E and K.
  • They can also grow all year, making them constantly seasonal and easy to find.


    • “An Apple a day…” adage has some nutritious power behind it when you look at the studies of health benefits. Not only are they a fiber-filled fruit, but they also have high levels of B-complex vitamins that are key in maintaining red blood cells and the nervous system in good health and free-radical, immune supportive vitamin C.
    • It is their phytonutrient content – particular high in polyphenolic compounds. Most notably, apples contain quercetin: which fights against the oxidation and inflammation of neurons in the brain. It also is said to boost an essential neurotransmitter in the brain acetylcholine; Related to improved memory function


Black Rice + Roasted Veggie Salad: serves 6

What You Need:

  • 4 cups black rice, prepared
  • 1 bunch carrots, peeled + chopped
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed + chopped
  • 2/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • coconut oil, for cooking
  • OPTIONAL added raw veg: 3 cups watercress tossed in when still warm + stirred until wilted.

For the simple dressing:

    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 2 TB Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • generous amount of parsley, coarsely chopped

To Make:

  1. Prepare the black rice according to the package-I use low-sodium, organic vegetable or chicken stock to make it a heartier flavor.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with carrots + asparagus, brush or spray lightly with coconut oil, roast for 15-20 minutes (the asparagus may need to be removed before the carrots are tender.)
  3. Meanwhile, prep the dressing in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Toss together the veggies + rice. Let cool. Then, add in the goat cheese + dressing- toss until combined.



  • Also called forbidden or purple rice, it has a nutty flavor with a chewy texture. It’s thick and filling. It gets its signature black-purple color from a pigment called anthocyanin, which has potent antioxidant properties.
  • Unlike other grains, it is a good source of protein and iron. This helps make it even more filling.
  • Along with anthocyanin, black rice has been found to contain over 23 plant compounds with antioxidant properties, including several types of flavonoids and carotenoids.


  • Asparagus is an amazing veg that’s simple to cook. These stalks are filled with vitamins C and E, flavonoids, + polyphenols.
  • High in folate, which is related to a reduced risk of neural tube birth defects (so eating it when you are pregnant is important,) cancer prevention, + lower homocysteine levels (high levels can lead to heart disease.)

Leave a Reply