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10 Easy Vegetarian Sides for the Holidays Everyone Will Love

author image Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN
Jackie Newgent, RDN, CDN is a classically-trained chef, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of several cookbooks, including the award-winning The All‐Natural Diabetes Cookbook and The With or Without Meat Cookbook. She’s a culinary instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, contributor to, and freelance recipe developer for Rachael Ray Every Day. She’s a past national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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10 Easy Vegetarian Sides for the Holidays Everyone Will Love
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

It’s that time of year again! This holiday season, there’s sure to be plenty of good food to be shared with family and friends. Celebrate by beginning a new tradition: Fill your holiday gatherings with plant-based goodness. It’s a gift of health to those that you love -- and it can be downright delicious! The easiest way to do this is to serve eye-catching vegetable-, fruit- and grain-based side dishes, like these 10 new recipes. They're the perfect accompaniment to turkey, ham or a vegetarian entree.

1. Citrus and Arugula Salad With Cranberry Dressing
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

1 Citrus and Arugula Salad With Cranberry Dressing

A salad is sometimes an afterthought at a holiday meal -- but not if you serve this! This festive salad bursts with peppery baby arugula, refreshing orange rounds, tart cranberry dressing, fragrant mint leaves and crunchy almond slices. It's a side dish that boasts loads of flavor and immunity-boosting vitamin C.

Related: Citrus and Arugula Salad With Cranberry Dressing Recipe

2. Pomegranate Kale Saute
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

2 Pomegranate Kale Saute

A green veggie dish on a holiday table is pretty common. But trust: There’s nothing common about this pretty dish! Kale is rich in anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer nutrients. And pomegranate arils (seeds) are high in phytonutrients that may play a role in cancer prevention, heart health and weight management. It’s a super quick and fun way to add greens to your meal. Plus, it’s a double dose of superfoods. CALORIES: 93

Related: Pomegranate Kale Sauté Recipe

3. Herbed Freekeh and Butternut Squash Pilaf
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

3 Herbed Freekeh and Butternut Squash Pilaf

Freekeh is the new quinoa! What is freekeh? It’s roasted, dried, young, soft-green wheat. Use it just like you would other grains. Cracked freekeh takes just 20 minutes to cook. It’s also a nutritional winner -- richer in both protein and fiber than brown rice. Freekeh is even a source of gut-friendly prebiotics. You’ll love it as a seasonal pilaf or as a cool salad! CALORIES: 187

Related: Herbed Freekeh and Butternut Squash Pilaf Recipe

4. Roasted Green Beans, Mushrooms and Onion
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

4 Roasted Green Beans, Mushrooms and Onion

Green bean casseroles are a classic holiday staple. But it’s often made with canned green beans, canned condensed cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onions from a canister. Doesn’t sound so lovely after all, does it? Here’s a fresh, preservative-free take on this quintessential casserole. Sweet green beans, baby bellas and red onions are roasted with olive oil to rich-tasting perfection. A sprinkling of blue cheese provides a comforting finish. CALORIES: 125

Related: Roasted Green Beans, Mushrooms and Onion Recipe

5. Roasted Carrots With Pumpkin Seeds and Mint
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

5 Roasted Carrots With Pumpkin Seeds and Mint

Jumbo whole carrots are super festive on your holiday table, especially when roasted until well-caramelized. The caramelization brings out the carrots' sweet and savory notes. To top that, you’ll season these big babies with sea salt, cinnamon, lemon and mint. Then, top with pumpkin seeds, coconut nectar and more mint. They’re practically decadent -- and nutritionally dense. You’ll get a beta carotene burst from just one carrot! CALORIES: 115

Related: Roasted Carrots With Pumpkin Seeds and Mint Recipe

6. Gruyere Whipped Celery Root
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

6 Gruyere Whipped Celery Root

Everyone knows potatoes. But celery root (aka celeriac) isn’t even on the radar for most folks. In fact, many haven’t tried this big, knobby root vegetable with a delicate, celery-like flavor. Here’s your chance! This recipe prepares it somewhat like mashed potatoes. And since it's pureed until it reaches a nice texture, you’ll notice less starchiness. It pairs incredibly well with your staple holiday favorites like roasted turkey, ham and even Tofurky! CALORIES: 330

Related: Gruyere Whipped Celery Root Recipe

7. Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Steak Frites With Pecans
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

7 Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Steak Frites With Pecans

There’s definitely no need for separate adults’ and kids’ dishes on a holiday menu -- not if you’ve got this recipe! These are like sweet potato fries, but bigger and better. They’re roasted with a just-right amount of olive oil, and then seasoned with a sweet-spicy-salty combination of cinnamon, cayenne and sea salt, respectively. Finish with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and sprinkling of pecans. Eat ’em with a fork! CALORIES: 297

Related: Maple-Glazed Sweet Potato Steak Frites With Pecans Recipe

8. Creamy Vegan Spinach
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

8 Creamy Vegan Spinach

Comfort and health come together magically in this glammed-up spinach side dish. There’s creaminess, but absolutely zero cream. Rather, the velvetiness is from unsweetened coconut milk beverage and a touch of whole-wheat pastry flour. You’ll get plenty of flavor from garlic, lemon and the right amount of seasonings. And extra-virgin olive oil provides richness while boosting absorption of many key nutrients in spinach! CALORIES: 41

Related: Creamy Vegan Spinach Recipe

9. Sweet-Tart Cranberry Sauce
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

9 Sweet-Tart Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is bold, refreshing and absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, it can be loaded with tons of added sugar. So make this sweet-tart version instead. You’ll simply add a bag of fresh, whole cranberries to a saucepan with some lemon and orange zest; coconut sugar; and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. And that’s it! Due to its potentially lower glycemic index, coconut sugar can be a better bet than table sugar for people with diabetes or prediabetes. CALORIES: 55

Related: Sweet-Tart Cranberry Sauce Recipe

10. Neuchâtel Cheesecake With Cranberry Sauce
Photo Credit: Jackie Newgent

10 Neuchâtel Cheesecake With Cranberry Sauce

When can cheesecake possibly help to prevent urinary tract infections and gum disease? When it’s laden with cranberry sauce! Cranberries contain compounds that are considered to be bacteria-blockers. But you won’t need to tout the potential health benefits of this dessert to get anyone to eat it. It’s cheesecake, after all! Though, if you prefer, consider this a sweet side dish! Use of Neufchâtel instead of regular cream cheese keeps it light, yet luscious. CALORIES: 309

Related: Neuchâtel Cheesecake With Cranberry Sauce Recipe

What Do YOU Think?
Photo Credit: VeselovaElena/iStock/Getty Images

What Do YOU Think?

Do you try to eat healthful dishes at holiday meals, or do you toss out all nutrition rules for special occasions? Why or why not? Which of these recipes would you try? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Related: How to Eat Like a Veggan -- We Didnt Spell It Wrong!

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