Thanksgiving Dinner: Classic Side Dishes With A Twist

Yes, the turkey is important. Yes, pumpkin and pecan pie are staples on many Thanksgiving tables. But what really makes the Thanksgiving meal? Side dishes!

Here are three classic side dishes with a Daily Mom twist – slightly healthier, and featuring slightly different flavors, but sure to please whoever is joining you to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

Pesto Harvest Stuffing

There is perhaps no more quintessential Thanksgiving dish than stuffing. Here is Daily Mom’s take on a Thanksgiving classic that is easy to throw together – which comes in handy when there are too many cooks in the kitchen! It can also be made for vegetarians or vegans, as you wish. The pesto puts a unique twist on traditional stuffing and will add a special flavor boost to your table this year.


  • 2 cups chopped carrots (approximately 2 large carrots)
  • 2 red potatoes, chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 slices wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 3/4 cup pesto
  • Salt + pepper to taste


Combine first four ingredients in an oiled 9 x 5 loaf pan. Add broth, Parmesan, pesto, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Bake at 375 degrees  for 45 minutes.


Green Bean “Biscuits”

Green beans occasionally get a bad rap for being b-o-r-i-n-g. This modified biscuit will shake up your notion of a green bean side dish and, because the biscuits are baked, this recipe gives you one less thing to crowd onto your already-full stovetop.


      • 1.5 cups green beans, steamed until cooked, then chopped into small pieces
      • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
      • 2 eggs
      • 4 tbsp. ground flax


Combine all ingredients until a thick batter forms. Drop by heaping tablespoonful onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 12 cakes.


Sweet Potato & Acorn Squash Casserole

Sweet potato lovers will enjoy this dish as a great alternative to the heavier and sweeter sweet potato soufflé. Replacing some of the sweet potato with acorn squash reduces the overall carbohydrate count of the dish, while a little sugar and walnut oil complement the sweet flavors of the potatoes and squash.


  • 3 acorn squash
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped or halves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt


Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Wash and cut squash in half and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Cut sweet potatoes and squash into small chunks, no more than ½ – 1 inch thick.

Combine melted butter, walnut oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Toss glaze with sweet potatoes, squash, and pecans in a casserole dish.

Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until sweet potato chunks are tender.

Food for thought: to eat the skin or not to eat the skin?

You may choose to peel the acorn squash and discard the skin. But if cooked properly, the skin of acorn squash can be safely eaten, just wash the vegetable thoroughly before preparation. In fact, the skin packs some great nutrients including antioxidants and fiber.

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Elizabeth Carr
Elizabeth is a Midwestern transplant who still calls Michigan “home” after nearly 10 years in New York City. Her work has taken her from Wall Street to the non-profit sector and she’s currently experimenting with life as a stay-at-home mom to a new baby girl. She loves a sweaty workout, Starbucks and the Sunday New York Times, and seeing the world with her husband Stephen.

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