The Healthy Cook’s holiday spread

The recipes in this post were developed by Kate Sherwood, The Healthy Cook. Have a comment, question, or idea? E-mail Kate at

Your Thanksgiving and other celebrations may look a little different this holiday season, but we’ve got plenty of ideas to keep your dishes stunning, healthy, and satisfying. Here’s how to fill your table with these holiday favorites from our Healthy Cook, Kate Sherwood.

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Mushroom Lentil Dressing

This hearty vegetarian dressing also makes a satisfying main course for the plant-based eaters in your life. Try using a seeded whole-grain bread for extra flavor and texture.

Tip: Don’t overcook your lentils. They should still be intact, not mushy.

Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 8 (as a side) or 4 (as a main)

1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbs. + 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, sliced
leaves from 3 sprigs thyme
leaves from 1 sprig sage, minced
½ tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices toasted whole wheat bread, cut into small cubes
2 cups cooked green or brown lentils
2 large eggs
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Put the dried mushrooms in a heatproof measuring cup and add 1½ cups boiling water. Let the mushrooms steep while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large pan, heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sauté the cremini mushrooms until well browned, 5–7 minutes. Season with the soy sauce and remove to a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the pan. Sauté the onion, celery, thyme, and sage until slightly softened, 1–2 minutes. Season with the salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Add to the bowl with the sautéed cremini mushrooms. Add the bread cubes and lentils to the bowl and toss everything together.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Strain the dried-mushroom soaking liquid through a coffee filter into the eggs. Whisk to combine.
  5. Mince the rehydrated mushrooms and add them to the bowl with the bread/lentil mixture. Add the walnuts (if using) and the egg mixture. Toss everything together to combine.
  6. Transfer into a 2-quart baking dish. Bake until set and crispy on top, about 45 minutes.

Per serving (¾ cup) as a side dish:

  • Calories: 240
  • Total fat: 12 g
  • Sat fat: 1.5 g
  • Carbs: 24 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Total sugar: 4 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g*
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Sodium: 300 mg

* Some whole wheat breads contain a few grams of added sugar per serving.

Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy

Making the gravy ahead of time means you can chill the broth so it’s easy to remove the fat. And it gives you one less thing to do at the last minute.

Time: 4 hours
Makes about 8 cups

3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on turkey wings and/or drumsticks
2 Tbs. + 2 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs thyme
1 tsp. black peppercorns
10 cups water
6 Tbs. flour
¾ tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Pat the turkey parts dry with a paper towel. On a large rimmed baking pan, toss the turkey with 2 Tbs. oil. Roast until well browned, 30–45 minutes.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the onion, carrot, and celery until browned, 8–10 minutes. Stir in the bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add the water and the roasted turkey with any pan drippings to the pot. Simmer, covered, for 3 hours. (You can also simmer in a 325°F oven or a slow cooker on high.)
  4. Strain the broth through a fine mesh sieve. (Discard the skin and bones that are left in the sieve and save the meat, which can be used to make soup.) Cool the broth to room temperature, then refrigerate until it gels and the fat is solid on top. Using a spoon, remove the fat and reserve ¼ cup, discarding the rest.
  5. In a large heavy pot, heat the reserved fat over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour is golden brown and smells toasty, 2–3 minutes.
  6. Whisk in the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking often, until the gravy has thickened, 2–3 minutes.
  7. Season with the salt and lemon juice (if using).

Per serving* (¼ cup):

  • Calories: 45
  • Total fat: 3.5 g
  • Sat fat: 0.5 g
  • Carbs: 2 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Total sugar: 0 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 2 g
  • Sodium: 70 mg

* Because of variables like wings vs. drumsticks and the amount of fat that is skimmed, these numbers are estimates.

Zesty Cranberry-Orange Relish

This no-cook relish is zingy and refreshing. You can use any type of orange: Cara Caras are a bit sweeter, blood oranges are a bit more tart. Or you can substitute 2 clementines or mandarins. Prefer a more traditional (yet still zippy) cranberry sauce? Use the second set of instructions. In either case, if you’re using frozen cranberries, don’t thaw them before making the dish.

Time: 5 minutes
Makes about 3 cups

¼ cup sugar
1 12 oz. bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 whole orange, washed and chopped (including the peel), any seeds discarded

For a no-cook relish: Combine all the ingredients in a large food processor. Pulse until uniformly minced, about 10-12 pulses. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

For a closer-to-traditional cranberry sauce: Combine the sugar and ½ cup water in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the cranberries, and simmer until the cranberries soften, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Pulse the orange in a food processor until uniformly minced. Stir into the cranberries. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Per serving (¼ cup):

  • Calories: 35
  • Total fat: 0 g
  • Sat fat: 0 g
  • Carbs: 9 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 6 g
  • Added sugar: 4 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Sodium: 0 mg

Citrus & Winter Greens Salad

This bright, crunchy salad can hang out in the fridge while you’re putting the finishing touches on your other dishes.

Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 8

2 clementines or 1 orange
1 lemon
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbs. mayonnaise
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
¼ tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 cups winter greens (a mix of chopped kales and shredded cabbages)

  1. Into a large bowl, grate enough clementine or orange rind to get 1 Tbs. zest. Peel the fruit, then cut into slices.
  2. Into the same bowl, grate enough lemon rind to get 1 tsp. zest. Juice enough lemon to get 1½ Tbs. juice. Add the juice to the bowl along with the shallot, mustard, mayo, oil, salt, and pepper. Whisk until smooth and creamy.
  3. Toss the greens in the dressing until coated.
  4. Transfer the greens to a serving bowl and add the clementine or orange slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Per serving (1 cup):

  • Calories: 80
  • Total fat: 6 g
  • Sat fat: 1 g
  • Carbs: 7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Total sugar: 4 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 110 mg

Winter Vegetable Mash

No added fat and no browning are the keys to flavorful yet light-tasting holiday sides like this one, which provides a perfect contrast to the rich turkey and dressing with gravy.

Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8

2 lbs. sweet potatoes or yams
1 large butternut or acorn squash, halved and seeded
½ tsp. kosher salt (optional)

  1. Using a fork, pierce the skin of the sweet potatoes in a few places. Cook the potatoes and the butternut squash until very tender. (Steam for 20–30 minutes, microwave for 5–7 minutes, or bake in a 375°F oven for 30–45 minutes.)
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes in half. Hold each half in a kitchen towel (so you won’t burn your fingers) and scoop out the flesh into a large bowl. Repeat with the squash into the same bowl. Mash with a potato masher or purée with an immersion blender or in a food processor to the consistency you like.
  3. Season with the salt (if using). Keep warm or reheat in the microwave to serve.

Per serving (¾ cup):

  • Calories: 120
  • Total fat: 0 g
  • Sat fat: 0 g
  • Carbs: 29 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Total sugar: 7 g
  • Added sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 170 mg
Photos: Kate Sherwood & Jennifer Urban/CSPI.

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