For many of us, Holidays are deeply rooted in family traditions, especially when it comes to the dinner table. Every year, Mom makes her delicious herb-roasted Turkey with the secret family stuffing recipe – trust me, it’s mouth-watering! My Aunt dutifully brings homemade mashed potatoes, and Grandma never fails to bake the most decadent pumpkin and pecan pies for dessert. However, this year is not your typical Holiday season, but rather than letting it get our spirits down, and we’ve decided to embrace the change, starting at the table. We’ve rounded up the best unexpected and light holiday side dishes that’ll keep the food coma at bay – at least until dessert, that is – and that might just become your new tradition.
Soups & Salads
Curried Beet Soup with Tandoori Chickpeas
Soup season is in full swing, but for some reason, soups seem to be underestimated when it comes to holiday meals. This year, shake things up a bit with a beet soup that’s not only light and delicious but will add some beautiful color to the table.
Charred Kale with Citrus and Green Tahini
The lightly charred edges of the kale helps to tame the hard veggie taste of the kale. Combine the kale with some grapefruit and oranges to create an unexpected balance of veggie and citrus flavors that is a delightful starter to any meal.
Cranberry and Walnut Relish
Cranberries are a staple for the dinner table this time of year, but if you’re like me, the canned, jammy cranberries do not cut it. Opt for this relish served with uncooked cranberries and crunchy walnuts for a fresh take on the holiday favorite.
Blistered Green Beans with Fried Shallots
If green bean casserole is a family favorite, try swapping it for these blistered green beans for a lighter option that’s still reminiscent of the traditional dish.
Brussel Sprout Slaw with Coconut Bacon
Looking for a last-minute side that will shake up the holiday feast? Brussel sprouts to the rescue! Chopped small and mixed with shredded coconut and a tangy sauce that will satisfy the taste buds without leaving dinner guests too full and asleep at the table.
Grilled Leeks with Brown Butter and Spiced Hazelnuts
Brown sugar and a little butter make any food memorable, but add in the spiced hazelnuts in contrast to the leeks’ soft interior, and you have a tradition-worthy side that everyone is sure to love!
Bread, Stuffing & Mashes
Vegan Cornbread Stuffing (Gluten-Free Option)
Whether you’re planning for more sensitive stomachs at the table or opting for a plant-based stuffing option, this vegan cornbread recipe has you covered—fluffy stuffing mixed with pecans for texture and cranberries for a sweet aftertaste.
Butternut Pecan Sweet Potato Mash
Lighten up your traditional mash potatoes with butternut squash and sweet potato combination! Naturally sweetened with maple syrup and topped with pecans for a crunchy finish that might just kick the regular potatoes off the table completely.
Garlic & Herb Flatbread
Rather than filling up on dinner rolls, try a flatbread! They are perfect for dipping or wrapping around slices of turkey and even better for leftovers. Spread on some cranberry relish and sweet potato mash and a bit of turkey, toast it in the oven, and you’re all set!
Try them all or just one and keep all your dinner guests’ bellies full and satisfied without inducing a post-dinner nap with these light new dishes – at least until dessert, that is – this holiday season.