12 Days of Giving, Day 11: Healthy Holiday Sides

The day of the Big Meal is almost here!

While you're planning out your menu, consider incorporating some of these options as sides to your turkey. They're all delicious, and quite a bit healthier than the traditional dishes we serve at Christmas.

Your tryptophan-coma'ed body will thank you on Boxing Day!

Image: Oh She Glows

Image: Oh She Glows

Healthy Holiday Side #1: Bread-Free Stuffing Balls from Oh She Glows


For the Bread-Free Stuffing Balls:

  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (8-ounce/225 g) package cremini mushrooms**
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (50 g) stemmed kale leaves
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup (100 g) walnuts halves*
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (12.5 mL) sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) ground flax
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) water
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Cranberry-Pear Sauce:

  • 2 cups (210 g) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 large ripe (230 g) pear, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) pure maple syrup
  • Small pinch fine sea salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add the oil into a large pot and turn heat to medium. Finely chop the mushrooms until they’re roughly the size of peas. Add chopped mushrooms to the pot along with minced garlic and a pinch of salt. Stir until combined. Sauté for about 6 to 8 minutes, until the water from the mushrooms cooks off.

Meanwhile, tear the kale into large pieces and place into a food processor. Pulse (do not process) the kale until finely chopped (roughly the size of peas or almonds), being sure not to overprocess it. Remove and place into a small bowl for later.

To the processor (no need to clean it out), add the rolled oats. Process the oats until they’re finely chopped and resemble coarse flour, about 15 to 30 seconds.

To the oat flour, add the drained lentils and walnuts. Pulse the mixture, stopping to check on it every few pulses, until it’s coarsely chopped. Be sure not to overprocess it into a paste as you still want a lot of texture and crunchy walnut pieces. Set aside.

To the pot with the mushrooms and garlic, add the herbs and sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in the kale and chopped dried cranberries, then turn off the heat.

Combine the flax and water in a small cup and stir (no need to let it sit).

To the pot, add all of the food processor mixture, vinegar, and flax mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

With lightly wet hands, shape and roll about 14 to 15 balls, roughly 2 1/2 tablespoons each. Place them on the prepared baking sheet about two inches apart.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, until golden on the bottom and firm to touch. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.

While the Bread-Free Stuffing Balls are baking, make the Cranberry-Pear Sauce. Add the cranberries, pear, and maple syrup into a medium pot. Bring to a low boil over high heat and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 20 minutes until thickened. Use a potato masher to mash up the pear near the end of cooking, if desired.

Leftover balls can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a few days. To reheat, add oil into a skillet and fry over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until heated through.

Image: Joyous Health

Image: Joyous Health

Healthy Holiday Side #2: Roasted Root Veggies from Joyous Health


  • 5 organic beets, chopped
  • 5 sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped in half
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 bunches of dino kale, chopped
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar


Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a large bowl, combine beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and dried rosemary.

Place this veggie mixture onto a large baking dish with a lid. If you don't have one big enough you can use a cookie sheet, you'll just have to be careful they don't burn. Also, they will dry out more easily if they are on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the veggies are fork tender. Meanwhile, drizzle kale with balsamic vinegar and spread evenly on to a cookie sheet.

Bake kale for 8-10 minutes. Watch it very carefully to ensure it doesn't burn!

Combine roasted root veggies and kale into a large dish, drizzle with some more olive oil and serve immediately. Enjoy!!

Image: Cookie and Kate

Image: Cookie and Kate

Healthy Holiday Side #3: Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce from Cookie & Kate


  • One 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • Zest of 1 medium orange, preferably organic (about 1 teaspoon)
  • Optional add-ins: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and/or ¼ cup fresh orange juice


First, rinse the cranberries well and drain off excess water. Pick through the cranberries and discard any squishy ones.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cranberries, honey and water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries have popped and the mixture has thickened to your liking, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat and stir in the orange zest. If you’d like to add cinnamon or orange juice, add it now. Taste and, if the mixture is too tart (keeping in mind that cranberry sauce is supposed to be a little tart!), add more orange juice, honey or maple syrup to taste.

Steph Bowen