The Healthiest Holiday Side Dishes

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Photo: Alison Miksch

The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they're also the most infamously calorie-filled. Even though we believe in indulging during the season, small healthy holiday choices can make a big difference. This Christmas, cook up these healthy holiday side dishes to lighten up your spread. For every baked macaroni and cheese, add a leafy green salad. Next to the creamy mashed potatoes, offer guests some balsamic roasted vegetables. These healthy Christmas side dishes are guilt-free but not flavor-free. Your guests will appreciate having healthy Christmas vegetable sides like green beans, root veggies, asparagus, carrots, and butternut squash. If you're worried about loading up on too many calories this Christmas, these healthy holiday side dishes are here to put you at ease. Quick, easy, and free of heavy cream and tons of cheese, these options are diet-safe choices that your family will love. With these flavor-filled and healthy options, you won't even miss the heavy stuff.

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Skillet Squash Blossom

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Skillet Squash Blossom
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Skillet Squash Blossom

Obviously, this winter side dish will wow with its presentation, but it tastes so good that your guests won't miss squash casseroles filled with cheese and cream.

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Young Lettuces and Shaved Winter Vegetables with Walnut Vinaigrette

Young Lettuces and Shaved Winter Vegetables with Walnut Vinaigrette Recipe
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Young Lettuces and Shaved Winter Vegetables with Walnut Vinaigrette

You'll want to make this light salad recipe from chef Todd Ginsberg of Atlanta restaurant The General Muir on weeknights after it's a hit at your holiday gathering.

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Home-Style Green Bean Casserole

Home-style Green Bean Casserole Recipe
Photo: Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Home-Style Green Bean Casserole

The homemade sauce on this casserole is lighter than the one that goes in old-school green bean casserole, and it's under 200 calories per serving.

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Roasted Vegetables

Roasted Root Vegetables
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Roasted Vegetables

These roasted winter vegetables are ideal for a holiday table; not only do they look pretty, they taste amazing. To save time, chop the vegetables the night before.

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Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens

Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens Recipe Image
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Vegetarian Slow-Cooker Collard Greens

We promise—you don't need ham hocks to make flavorful collard greens. If the slow cooker didn't already make your job easier, you can make this recipe ahead of time.

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Cider-Glazed Carrots with Walnuts

Cider-Glazed Carrots with Walnuts Recipe
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Cider-Glazed Carrots with Walnuts

The tangy glaze and sweet carrots make a delicious match, and toasted walnuts add a little crunch. You can swap out pecans for walnuts if you prefer, and our Test Kitchen professionals advise that you're careful not to over-reduce the glaze; it should have a thin, syrupy texture.

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Cast-Iron Blistered Brussels Sprouts

Cast-Iron Blistered Brussels Sprouts
Hector Sanchez

Recipe: Cast-Iron Blistered Brussels Sprouts

If you want crispy, caramelized Brussels sprouts on your holiday table as quickly as possible, get out your cast-iron skillet.

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Balsamic Green Beans with Pearl Onions Recipe

Balsamic Green Beans with Pearl Onions Recipe
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Balsamic Green Beans with Pearl Onions

With this beautiful 20-minute recipe that combines lightly caramelized pearl onions and green beans, your family won't miss that calorie-laden green bean casserole.

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Herbed Couscous

Browned-Butter Farro
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Herbed Couscous

Swap out heavy starches like macaroni and cheese for this herb-filled couscous recipe.

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Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad

Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Beet, Fennel, and Apple Salad

How could anyone pass a colorful salad like this and not grab a scoop? With fresh ingredients and a light dressing, this salad is a no-brainer healthy addition to the holidays.

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Sweet Potato-and-Collard Green Gratin

Sweet Potato-and-Collard Green Gratin
Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Mary-Claire Britton

Recipe: Sweet Potato-and-Collard Green Gratin

We know that when you hear "gratin" you don't immediately think "healthy," but this recipe is low on butter and cheese, and it will be a welcome newcomer to your holiday table.

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Farro Salad with Toasted Pecans, Feta, and Dried Cherries

Farro Salad with Toasted Pecans, Feta, and Dried Cherries
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Farro Salad with Toasted Pecans, Feta, and Dried Cherries

Swap out that tired green salad with this grain-based salad that's filled with dried cherries, scallions, parsley, lemon juice, toasted pecans, and feta cheese.

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Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon

Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon
Laurey W. Glenn

Recipe: Sautéed Mustard Greens with Garlic and Lemon

This simple recipe lets the flavor of the greens, garlic, and lemon speak for themselves, and it only has 10 minutes of hands-on time.

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Roasted Beet-and-Citrus Salad with Honey-Orange Vinaigrette

Roasted Beet-and-Citrus Salad with Honey-Orange Vinaigrette
Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Lydia Pursell; Food Styling: Tami Hardeman

Recipe: Roasted Beet-and-Citrus Salad with Honey-Orange Vinaigrette

This colorful salad is bursting with citrusy flavor and despite its pretty presentation, it's easy to make.

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Lightened Squash Casserole

Lightened Squash Casserole
Photo: Becky-Luigart Stayner

Recipe: Lightened Squash Casserole

This recipe dials back the classic squash casserole you love with reduced-fat ingredients and less butter.

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Brussels Sprout Slaw with Apples and Pecans

Brussels Sprout Slaw with Apples and Pecans
Greg DuPree

Recipe: Brussels Sprout Slaw with Apples and Pecans

Give your usual slaw a holiday upgrade with apples and pecans. The light dressing on this slaw is mad with lemon, olive oil, and a touch of honey for sweetness.

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Roasted Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Alison Miksch

Recipe: Roasted Vegetable Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

This beautiful collection of vegetables takes to the apple cider vinaigrette perfectly, and there's no heavy cream or cheese in sight.

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Wild Rice with Mushrooms

Wild Rice with Mushrooms
Iain Bagwell

Recipe: Wild Rice with Mushrooms

If you're looking to add a starch to your table without loading it down with mashed potatoes or mac and cheese, this 30-minute wild rice dish is light and flavorful.

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Beet-and-Orange Salad with Spiced Pecans

Beet-and-Orange Salad with Spiced Pecans
Victor Protasio

Recipe: Beet-and-Orange Salad with Spiced Pecans

From chef and cookbook author Virginia Wilson, this bright, light salad is a beautiful addition to any table, and it's so easy to make.

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Cranberry-Apple-Ginger Salad

Cranberry-Apple-Ginger Salad
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Recipe: Cranberry-Apple-Ginger Salad

Switch out the canned stuff with this cranberry salad this year. It's got a little crunch from thinly sliced celery, and apple, pineapple, and ginger add flavor you didn't know was missing from this dish. Be sure to make it the night before or morning of your dinner so it can have plenty of time to chill.

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Romaine with Creamy Olive Dressing

Romaine with Creamy Olive Dressing
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Prop Styling: Karin Olsen; Food Styling: William Smith

Recipe: Romaine with Creamy Olive Dressing

You'll want to keep a jar of this creamy and slightly salty dressing in your refrigerator for weeknight salads, and it takes just a few minutes to throw this dish together.

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Roasted Asparagus Salad

Roasted Asparagus Salad
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Roasted Asparagus Salad

This light salad has more flavor variety than an average roasted asparagus dish, but it comes together so fast.

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Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese
Beth Dreiling Hontzas

Recipe: Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese

Video: Baked Smokin' Macaroni and Cheese

We know what you're thinking: Mac and cheese is not healthy, SL! But if your family insists on having it at your holiday dinner, this baked dish is lighter on the butter and cheese than our other macaroni recipes.

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