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  • Writer's pictureDr. Amy

My newest favorite holiday side dish!

Yesterday I asked our middle son if he preferred to visit family out of town or stay home for Thanksgiving. He said he wants to be wherever the food is! Hopefully there's a little more to holidays than that! But I can identify with him, can't you?

Making a quick list of the most popular holiday side dishes, there's something that always stands out to me. So. Many. Carbs.

Stuffing (or dressing, depending on your area of the country or whether or not you're a food snob :D )







Don't be confused. I'm not anti-carb; carbohydrates are our main source of energy, and virtually the only energy source for our brains (through carbs stored in our bodies as glucose). But boy, have you noticed? We Americans have a love affair with sugar. If it isn't sweet on its own, we'll top it, mix into it, or coat it with carbs!

So I wanted to share a recipe that I started making a couple of years ago. No, it's not low carb, but these carbohydrates are mostly from whole food, nutrient-rich sources, and it is seriously DELICIOUS.

Generally, you're eating whole foods if they look pretty much the same as when they grew; the fresher, the better. These foods contain vitamins, minerals, or other substances that help your body digest, absorb, and use their nutrients. So a piece of fruit that's high in fruit sugar also has vitamins your body needs AND components to help your body use them; that's a healthier choice than a cookie with the same amount of sugar, but whose ingredients have all been refined until there's no nutrition left. All carbs are not created equal.

So give this recipe a try at your holiday table, and let me know what your family has to say about it!


INGREDIENTS (for 6 servings)

3 cups brussels sprouts - trim the ends & remove any yellow leaves, then cut in half

3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1½ lb butternut squash - remove peel & seeds, then cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

3 tablespoons real maple syrup

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups pecan halves

2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

1 cup dried cranberries

½ lb nitrate & nitrite free bacon - fried, drained, and crumbled

2-4 tablespoons real maple syrup (optional)


  1. Bring a large skillet to medium heat.

  2. Toss pecans with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a dash of salt. Toast in the pan for 2-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they just begin to brown and become fragrant. Don't over-toast! Set aside.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Toss brussels sprouts in coconut oil and salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

  3. Toss prepared butternut squash in coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.

  4. In a large bowl, combine roasted veggies with cranberries, bacon, and toasted pecans.

Tips & Tricks

To save time, the brussels and squash can be roasted on separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven.

If you add the optional maple syrup when combining everything, do it 1 tablespoon at a time, checking for taste.

Nutrition Highlights

Brussels sprouts - vitamins K and C

Butternut squash - vitamins A and C

Pecans - fiber, magnesium, healthy fats

Coconut oil - contributes to increased HDL's, decreased appetite, and healthy hair & skin

Cranberries - contain compounds that aid urinary tract, dental, and heart health

Maple syrup - high in calories, yes, but it's also high in zinc and contains your recommended daily intake of manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar. See that? Cooperative nutrients!

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