Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

I might be stirring shit up by saying this, but I am not a fan of many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes. I’m sure some people love the canned candied yams topped with melted marshmellows, the green beans with cream of mushroom soup and the crunchy dried onions on top. I know I have heard a friend or two confess that they love cranberries out of a can and think it’s fun how they plop out on a plate, ridges and all.

That’s fine I guess, if that is what you like, or grew up with, or whatever. I know I grew up with those dishes and I’m sure I loved them as a kid. I can’t make too much fun of those foods without making fun of the mom that fed them to me. Traditions are traditions, but now, not only do I have a way more sensitive stomach than I did when I was a kid, but I am also very aware of how I start to feel when I eat creamy, processed, sugary foods. Not good. So a lot of how I eat has changed.

Below are some recipes that have replaced the old standbys for me. They are simple to make, super tasty and still have the traditional Thanksgiving ingredients.



5-6 small/medium sized yams, chopped into about 1 inch chunks
2 bunches of kale, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
splash of cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss the yams and onions with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast until tender about 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

While the yams are roasting, heat olive oil in a large skillet and stir in the kale, garlic, salt and pepper. Braise until wilted (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add a splash of cider vinegar in the last minute of cooking.

Combine ingredients and serve warm or cold!




2 tablespoons butter (or earth balance or whatever you like to use)
2 pounds brussel sprouts, halved
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup broth (veggie or chicken)
salt and pepper to taste


Melt 1 tablespoon of better in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pine puts and toast until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the pine nuts from the pan and set aside.

Melt another tablespoon of butter in the skillet and add the brussel sprouts. Saute for a few minutes, until lightly browned. Add the broth. Cover and simmer until the brussel sprouts are tender about 7 minutes. Uncover and allow the rest of the broth to evaporate. Transfer to a serving dish and add the pine nuts.




2 butternut squash, chopped into about 1 inch chunks
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup. Add the squash, onions, dried cranberries, brown sugar, salt and pepper and toss until evenly coated. Roast until tender about 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

Let me know what you all think. Do you agree? Disagree? Do you already make similar dishes at Thanksgiving? What are you making this year? I’d love to hear from you!

8 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Recipe Ideas

  1. Yummy! I much prefer your side dishes, though I still enjoy baked acorn squash with lots of butter and brown sugar. In my mind, marshmallows are not a side dish! Gross! I’m a vegetarian – imagine how ‘traditional’ my holiday meals are – LOL!

    1. Mmm. I love acorn squash too. Thanks for reminding me. It’s so easy to make and comes with it’s own bowl!
      I was a vegetarian for years, so I tend to still cook that way. Plus, I never really learned how to cook meat;)

  2. Totally stealing your roasted squash recipe, but don’t have those sweeteners, so I’m subbing coconut nectar and coconut sugar. Will update. : )

  3. They were more baked than roasted, but I just devoured the left overs. Great simple recipe with plenty of room for improvisation. Thanks, Lilly!

  4. The yams & kale look fabulous! Do you think they would reheat well if I make them up the day before Thanksgiving? I have a toddler & like to do as much make ahead as possible so I can relax more on the big day.

    1. I think so! That was recipe was based off of something I bought at a deli at PCC (Seattle’s local Whole Foods type grocery store) and they serve it cold, so I bet it would reheat just fine. Maybe just reheat it at a low temp for a longer time, like 200 or 250.

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