Two Vegetarian (and Healthy) Thanksgiving Sides: Maple Roasted Beets & Butternut Squash and Zucchini Cakes.

The feast is almost upon us!  In an earlier post this week I talked a little about focusing my energy and thoughts towards Thanksgiving and what it REALLY means to be thankful.  Thanksgiving dinners for those of us who indulge in them are truly a luxury and privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy, so take some time out of your Turkey Day to think about what you’re truly thankful for and focus some of that positive energy to those who may not be able to celebrate like we do.

I also started thinking about portion sizes and how, overall, as an “on-the-go” and “go big or go home” type of society, we often overeat and waste a lot of our food.  I’m not saying YOU in particular are doing anything wrong, I just mean as a whole nation we eat A LOT.  We waste A LOT.  The food we throw away is food (to me) taken out of someone else’s hands.  There is a rule in our apartment that we finish ALL fresh foods and produce before even thinking about preparing that frozen Mandarin Chicken baggie.  That doesn’t mean I don’t get wasteful.  I’m trying to work on that.  If we all did, I think we would be a lot healthier and happier as a whole nation.

So, post rant…..I wanted to apply this logic to my Thanksgiving dinner.  I don’t need turkey, plus like 7 sides, three desserts, and a ton of wine.  It’s nice to indulge, but it’s about self control and just SATISFYING my hunger.  I don’t need to stuff myself just to enjoy time with my family because THAT’S what I’m SUPPOSED to do.  This year my mom, who is the Thanksgiving hostess of the family, and I decided to make some healthier alternatives to the sweet potato pie and stuffing.

Below are two AWESOMELY delicious, simple, and healthy sides you can prepare for ANY night or your special Turkey Day feast.  PLUS, most of these veggies can be found in the fall at local markets.

Maple-Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets:

What You Will Need:

  • 4 medium beets, peeled & cubed
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled & cubed
  • 1/3 pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • pinch of oregano
  • pinch of cloves & cinnamon
  • pinch of pepper

What You Need To Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients except cranberries and pumpkin seeds in a large mixing bowl.  Be sure to evenly coat all pieces with oil and syrup.
  3. Lay all pieces out on a baking sheet and roast for 40-45 minutes.
  4. Remove them from the oven and place them in the broiler for 3 minutes for a nice crispiness.
  5. Remove and sprinkle the cranberries & pumpkin seeds on throughout the mix!

Beets are FULL of goodness.  Not only do they help ratchet up your energy levels, they are full of vitamins and minerals.  Beets help clear toxins from the body by helping to cleanse the liver.

I use pre-cut butternut squash to cut out the hassle.

I use pre-cut butternut squash to cut out the hassle.  Pumpkin works just as well!  I used it in this particular mix.

photo 2 (16)photo 1 (16)

Zucchini Cakes:

What You Will Need:

  • 2-3 small to medium sized zucchini, shredded
  • 1/4 cup of almond meal or flour of choice (I used almond meal the second time and the consistency wasn’t the same but it added a nice nutty flavor!)
  • 1/4 cup parmesean or goat gouda, shredded
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of oil

What You Need To Do:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Heat a skillet with an oil on medium heat.
  3. Make small balls out of the mixture and place them on the hot pan.
  4. Use the back of a spatula or other utensil to flatten the balls.
  5. Cook 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
  6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or plan.
The Mix.

The Mix.

photo 5 (5)photo 4 (10)

You will want to eat about 12 of these.  They are a great way to get some veggies in or they make an easy appetizer that’s a little more on the healthy side!

I hope everyone has a safe, wonderful, and enjoyable holiday!  Remember to take some time out of your day tomorrow to really, truly, and sincerely be thankful for ALL you have.  I know I have a lot to be thankful for ❤


4 responses to “Two Vegetarian (and Healthy) Thanksgiving Sides: Maple Roasted Beets & Butternut Squash and Zucchini Cakes.

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