6 Skinny Christmas Dinner Side Dishes Spreading Healthy Holiday Cheer

This Christmas, celebrate a healthy holiday with your loved ones by preparing nutritious side dishes for dinner. You can serve diet-friendly sides without sacrificing flavor by using low-fat ingredients, nutritious fruits and vegetables, and low-calorie glazes, seasonings, and spices. From an Endive and Grapefruit Salad with Smoked Trout to Heart-Healthy Cheesy Potatoes, these six recipes will help you create a Christmas dinner that is special, memorable, and nutritious.

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1. Brown Sugar-Glazed Beets

Root vegetables’ earthy flavors pair perfectly with a sweet glaze in Eating Well’s Brown Sugar-Glazed Beets. Nutrient-rich beets contain potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A, B, and C, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine, and folic acid, Full Circle explains. The recipe yields 6 servings; each contains 74 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 164 milligrams of sodium.


  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups steamed cubed beets, ½- to 1-inch cubes

Directions: Combine brown sugar, orange juice, butter, salt, and pepper in a large nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until the sugar and butter are melted and starting to bubble. Stir in beets and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beets are coated with glaze, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

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2. Endive and Grapefruit Salad with Smoked Trout

Food & Wine’s Endive and Grapefruit Salad with Smoked Trout is filled with light and refreshing flavors. Not only does this salad taste delicious, but it’s also packed with good-for-you ingredients, including grapefruit. Medical News Today explains that grapefruits are low in calories, packed with vitamin C and A, and contain antioxidants. The recipe yields 6 servings.


  • 2 ruby grapefruits
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraîche
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 large endives (about 1½ pounds), leaves separated
  • 2 Hass avocados, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 pound smoked trout fillets, skinned and flaked into 1-inch pieces

Directions: Using a knife, carefully peel the grapefruits; be sure to remove all of the bitter white pith. Working over a bowl, cut in between the membranes to release the grapefruit sections into the bowl. Transfer the sections to a plate. Squeeze any extra grapefruit juice from the membranes into the bowl.

Stir in the vinegar and shallot, then whisk in the crème fraîche and oil. Season the grapefruit vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Arrange the endives on a large platter. Top with the grapefruit sections, diced avocado and smoked trout and serve, passing the vinaigrette at the table.

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3. Heart-Healthy Cheesy Potatoes

Potatoes are a quintessential — and often fattening — holiday dish. Fortunately, Better Homes and Gardens’ recipe uses reduced-fat soup and cheddar cheese, in addition to light sour cream, to transform the unhealthy side into a nutritious dish you can feel good about eating. The recipe yields 12 servings, with each containing 129 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 236 milligrams of sodium.


  • 1 (10¾ ounce) can reduced-fat and reduced-sodium condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
  • ½ cup fat-free milk
  • ½ cup light dairy sour cream
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion or 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (30 ounce) package frozen, shredded, or diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • ½ cup crushed cornflakes or crushed wheat cereal flakes

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 2-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In a very large bowl, combine soup, cheese, milk, sour cream, onion, and pepper. Stir in potatoes. Spread mixture evenly in prepared baking dish. Cover and bake for 45 minutes; stir potatoes. Sprinkle with cornflakes. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes more or until heated through and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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4. Savory Broccoli-Cauliflower Roast

Broccoli and cauliflower star in Good Housekeeping’s nutritious dish, which yields 12 servings. Garnished with green olives and parsley leaves, your Christmas dinner guests will devour this elegant side. Each serving contains 115 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 215 milligrams of sodium.


  • 4 heads (1½ pounds each) broccoli, cut into medium florets
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 heads (1¼ pounds each) cauliflower, cut into medium florets
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup green olives, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions: Arrange 2 oven racks in bottom half of oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. On 18-by-12-inch jelly-roll pan, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. On another 18-by-12-inch jelly-roll pan, toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Roast 30 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are browned and just tender, rotating pans between racks halfway through roasting.

Meanwhile, from orange, grate ½ teaspoon peel and squeeze ¼ cup juice into medium bowl. Into same bowl, from lemon, grate ¼ teaspoon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. Whisk in 2 tablespoons oil, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and pinch freshly ground black pepper. Arrange broccoli and cauliflower on serving platter. Scatter olives over vegetables. Whisk dressing again and drizzle all over dish. Garnish with parsley.

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5. Sweet Potato-Cauliflower Gratin with Crispy Sage Leaves

Filled with fresh flavors, antioxidants, and a lightened-up bechamel sauce, Whole Living’s Sweet Potato-Cauliflower Gratin with Crispy Sage Leaves is a Christmas dinner must. The recipe yields 6 to 8 servings.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
  • 20 fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 head cauliflower, quartered and sliced ¼-inch thick
  • Vegetable oil, for crisping sage

Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and 1 cup water. Cook, whisking, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ¼ cup Parmesan and the chopped sage. Season with salt and pepper. Pour a third of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.

Arrange a third of the sweet potato and cauliflower slices along the bottom. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat twice with remaining sauce and vegetables. Cover dish with parchment-lined foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, crisp sage leaves: Heat 1 inch vegetable oil in a small pot over medium-high heat until surface is shimmering slightly. Add a few leaves at a time and cook until crisp, but still bright green, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Season with salt. Top gratin with leaves.

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6. Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Substitute starchy dinner rolls for Taste of Home’s Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls. The recipe yields 48 servings, and each beautifully-baked, golden-brown roll contains 89 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 111 milligrams of sodium.


  • 2 packages (¼ ounce each) active dry yeast
  • 2¼ cups warm water (110 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 3½-4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the sugar, shortening, salt, eggs, and whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough all-purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four pieces. Shape each into 12 balls. Place 1 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees for 11 to 15 minutes or until browned. Remove from pans to wire racks. Brush with melted butter. Serve warm.

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