9 Figure-Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Beet and Pomegranate Seed Salad1 of 10
Think of this salad as a your fit physique's insurance policy this Turkey Day. Beets and pomegranates, which are both in season during the fall and winter months, tout antioxidants and fiber. While the antioxidants help boost immunity and prevent sickness, the fiber in these red-hued plants promotes sustainable weight loss. The reason: High-fiber foods keep your body satisfied longer and not overeat, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Cranberry Balsamic Green Beans2 of 10
Traditional green bean casserole, filled with canned creamed soups and milk, often gets a supporting role on the Thanksgiving menu. Skip the heavy, lactose-laden casserole and opt for this lighter, dairy-free dish. The fresh green beans are high in fiber and vitamins K and C. Although vitamin C doesn't necessarily cause weight loss, it increases fat oxidation during moderate-intensity exercise, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Plus, this dish calls for antioxidant-rich cranberries and balsamic vinegar, as well as coconut oil, which contains a distinctive combination of fatty acids that has powerful effects on metabolism.
Gluten-Free Pumpkin & Jalapeno Souffles3 of 10
Most souffles are full of heavy cream, butter and flour. However, those ingredients aren't the ticket to a good souffle. The secret lies in the egg whites and the base. The latter has to have a smooth consistency so the egg whites can be folded in without deflation. Fiber- and vitamin A-laden pumpkin puree partners perfectly with the egg whites. These souffles get their moderate heat—and vitamin C—from jalapeno peppers. The cornstarch thickener keeps them gluten-free.
Cauliflower Mash and Figure-Friendly Gravy4 of 10
Potatoes provide significant amounts of fiber, vitamin C and potassium. They also have a high-glycemic index, which means they can cause your blood sugar to spike and result in imbalances and poor appetite control. Unlike potatoes, cauliflower is a low-glycemic-index food. Like potatoes, it's a good source of fiber, vitamin C and potassium. It also happens to make a great swap for a healthy mash. Top off each serving with a figure-friendly gravy that uses chicken or vegetable broth, herbs and cornstarch slurry in place of fatty pan drippings and flour-rich roux.
Persimmon, Pear and Apple Salad with Maple-Cinnamon Vinaigrette5 of 10
Persimmon fruit, which is often referred to as "the apple of the Orient," is known for its sweet, honey flavor. It's dense in vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and copper. It has laxative and diuretic properties; eating it is an effective way to prevent or relieve constipation and water retention. Persimmon fruit, along with pears, apples, cranberries, candied pecans and a maple-cinnamon dressing, give this salad its autumnal flavor profile.
Pumpkin au Gratin6 of 10
When you think "figure-friendly recipes," gratin may not be the first culinary technique that comes to mind. Gratins are typically topped with breadcrumbs, full-fat cheese, egg and butter. This version, created by The Diet Detective, omits three of those ingredients and uses whole-wheat flour, broth and low-fat cheese to create the golden crust on top. But it's the plants inside—pumpkin, spinach, onion—that deliver the healthful nutrients, including fiber, vitamins A, C and K and biotin. This gratin also features nutmeg, which is a natural digestive aid, according to Care2.
Roasted Cinnamon Apples and Red Grapes7 of 10
Just as roasting brings out the deep flavors in vegetables, it does the same for fruits. The apples and grapes in this dish not only become more flavorful once they're roasted. Preparation is easy because they can also roast at the same temperature for the same amount of time and still hold a desirable texture. Plus, the resveratrol in the skins of red grapes aids the waistline because it blocks cellular processes that allow fat cells to develop, according to a Purdue University study. And cinnamon improves the functionality of insulin receptors and helps lower blood-glucose levels, which can aid in burning more calories from fat. Click here to read more about the health benefits of cinnamon.
Roasted Maple Acorn Squash8 of 10
This dish is a simple marriage of acorn squash, maple syrup, cinnamon, grapeseed oil, and salt and pepper. Like pumpkin, acorn squash is high in fiber, and vitamins A and C. It's also abundant during the fall and winter months. Although pure maple syrup is considered a natural sugar, it's not a health food. It's essentially liquid sugar and shouldn't be eaten in large quantities, especially if you're diabetic or weight-conscious. With both dietary concerns in mind, this recipe calls for moderation—only 1 teaspoon per serving.
Sweet Potato-Carrot Mash9 of 10
The great thing about vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots—aside from their beta-carotene—is their natural sweetness. They will save your recipes and waistline from added refined sugar, which the body will turn to fat if it's not burned off. Serve this metabolism-boosting recipe in place of traditional sweet potato casserole, which is often filled with brown sugar and marshmallows.