Thanksgiving Side Dishes (Paleo, Gluten-Free)

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

We already talked “making the perfect turkey” last week. But what good is a turkey without some awesome sides to go alongside it?



Growing up, my mom was ALL ABOUT casseroles. We had casserole EVERYTHING at our holiday meals.


It’s funny to me how we never really eat Thanksgiving-style casseroles but once or twice per year.


Why is it that Jell-O Casserole, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Stuffing, Cornbread Dressing, Corn Casserole, Fruit Casserole…you name a ‘role’, it was on our table.



I never so much as cared for all the hype of ‘special’ (odd) Thanksgiving concoctions. I always more so preferred just the real food–the turkey, some sweet potatoes and greens of some sort.


Come my adult years, and I’ve learned how to add a little ‘punch’ and ‘spice’ to otherwise everyday meals that offer an interesting Thanksgiving flair, without being too far out in left field!


The simplicity about eating REAL FOOD, is that it needs very little ‘garnish’, or spice to make it taste delicious. A little butter or coconut oil, cinnamon, sea salt, pepper, fresh herbs, garlic and/or onion goes a LONG way. Not to mention, I am all about EASY recipes (laundry list long recipes stress me out!). Here are some of my favorite go-tos to throw together for a Thanksgiving-inspired meal (without spending hours in the kitchen).


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Cauliflower Mash with Gravy

Roasted Rosemary Beets

Green Bean Casserole

Broccoli & Apple Salad with Walnuts

Crispy Greens (Collards, Chard & Kale)

Cornbread Stuffing

Whipped Sweet Potatoes

“Marshmallow” Sweet Potato Casserole


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

  • 4 pieces bacon
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the bacon in a cast iron skillet and cook until crisp. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate and crumble into pieces. Leave one tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan and dispose of the rest. Place the Brussels sprouts and shallot into the skillet and toss to coat. Sprinkle with pepper and a generous helping of salt. Transfer to the oven to roast for 10 minutes and then stir. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the sprouts are golden brown. Stir the crumbled bacon into the pan and serve immediately.


Cauliflower Mash with Gravy


For the Mashed Cauliflower:

5 c. cauliflower florets

½ c. vegetable broth

2 tsp. dried rosemary

1 tsp. nutritional yeast (optional)

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. garlic powder

sea salt, ground pepper

1 Tbsp. butter (ghee or grassfed butter)


For the Gravy:

1 shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder

1 c. vegetable broth

½ c. unsweetened nondairy milk

¼ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. onion powder

sea salt and ground pepper to taste



In a saucepan, place the cauliflower florets and water halfway. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes until tender. Drain.

Add to bowl or food processor, and pour in vegetable broth; blend with an immersion blender or place everything in a food processor and mix. Mix in the spices and herbs. Season with sea salt and ground pepper.


For Gravy

In a small skillet, saute the garlic and shallot with the oil over medium heat until lightly brown. Add the arrowroot and mix in for 30 seconds. Add the nondairy milk and vegetable broth, whisking it in until evenly combined. Add the seasonings and bring to a boil. Simmer until the gravy thickens. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Pour over mashed cauliflower.



Roasted Rosemary Beets


2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

3 beets, chopped

1 tsp sea salt & pepper



Preheat the oven to roast at 400°F.

In a baking dish, toss beets in olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.

Roast beets for 35 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and tender in the center.


Green Bean Casserole


 Cream of Mushroom Soup

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • ¼lb of crimini mushrooms, rough chopped
  • ½ tsp of dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp of black pepper
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 5 cups of chicken broth
  • 4 tbsp of coconut flour
  • ½ cup of coconut milk

Fried onions

  • 1 larger onion, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 2 tbsp of coconut flour
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of coconut oil

Green Beans

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1¼lb of green beans, trim and clean
  • 4 strips of crispy bacon, diced


  • For the mushroom soup, heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat and then add the diced mushrooms, thyme, salt, black pepper and chicken broth. Cook for 30 minutes and remove from stove.
  • Pour soup in a blender and then add the coconut flour and coconut milk and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • To make crispy onions, place the coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. In a bowl combine the diced onions, salt and coconut flour and toss until well coated.
  • Drop the onions in small batched in the hot oil and book until golden brown, roughly 3 -4 minutes per batch.
  • Set the onions on a paper towel to drain.
  • For the green beans, place the water in a pan and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Drain and add to a casserole dish.
  • Add 4 cups of the mushroom soup and the diced bacon and stir until coated.
  • Top with the fried onions and set the pan your oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Broccoli & Apple Salad with Walnuts


  • 2 medium heads of broccoli, chopped;
  • 1 large carrot, grated;
  • 1 apple, cored and finely chopped;
  • ¼ cup onion, finely chopped (Optional);
  • ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped;
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries;


Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (homemade) or Primal Kitchen Mayo
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice;
  • 1 garlic clove, minced;
  • 1 tsp. raw honey; (optional)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper



  • In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing. Mix well and season to taste.
  • In large bowl, combine the broccoli, carrot, apple, onion, cranberries, and walnut.
  • Mix as much dressing as you like in the salad and toss until well combined.


Crispy Greens (Collards, Chard & Kale)


2 TBSP coconut oil or ghee

1 bunch of organic collard greens, roughly chopped or torn into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch of organic kale (any variety will do), roughly chopped or torn into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch of organic rainbow chard

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder



  1. Melt coconut oil over medium heat in a large pan.
  2. Once hot, add the greens.  Cover and cook for approximately 1–12 minutes, stirring frequently.  (the longer you cook=the crispier)
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Adjust seasonings to your taste.


Roasted Asparagus


  • Asparagus
  • Sea salt
  • Garlic powder (optional)
  • Olive oil



  • Preheat oven to 400℉.
  • Trim asparagus so that the tough parts are gone.
  • Line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
  • Place asparagus on the baking pan and drizzle olive oil over it.
  • Season with sea salt and garlic powder
  • Pop in the oven for 15 minutes.


Cornbread Stuffing (inspired by A Girl Worth Saving)




Make this Paleo Cornbread recipe and make the following changes:

Remove the garlic powder and caraway seeds

Add 1 tsp of onion powder.


2 cups diced granny smith apple

1 cup diced onion

1 cup broth

2 stalks of celery, diced

½ tsp cumin

heaping ½ tsp of fresh sage leaves, diced

1 tbsp ghee

¼ tsp sea salt


  • In a small pot over meduim heat add the broth, ghee, cumin, sage and sea salt and whisk together over low heat for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Take the cornbread and crumble it with a fork and mix in the onion, celery and apple.
  • Pour the broth mixture over it and mix well.
  • Bake in the oven at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes.


Whipped Sweet Potatoes



  • 5 sweet potatoes (about 4-5lbs) [I used Japanese for a sweeter flavor; but may use Garnet/Yams as well]
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste



Rinse and peel the skins from the sweet potatoes, and cut into cubes (about 1 inch in diameter.) Place the cubes in a large pot and cover in water so that the water comes just to the top of the cubes. Add a little bit of sea salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil, and let the cubes “cook” in the boiling water for about 15 minutes. The cubes will be ready when you can spike it easily with a fork.


Drain the water and place the cubes in a bowl. Using a mixer or a hand blender, whip the sweet potatoes for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add in 1/4 cup of coconut milk and sea salt and pepper to taste (I use about 2-3 teaspoons of black pepper, and 2 teaspoons of sea salt.) After about 1 minute, add in the coconut oil. After another minute, add the rest of the coconut milk to the mixture and let the potatoes continue to whip.


Traditional “Marshmallow” Sweet Potato Casserole (inspired by the Wellness Mama)



5 egg whites

⅔ cup honey

¼ tsp cinnamon

dash of vanilla



6-8 sweet potatoes, baked until soft

¼ cup butter or coconut oil

dash of salt



Bake the sweet potatoes until soft.

Once slightly cooled, mash the sweet potatoes with butter and salt.

Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter or coconut oil and fill with mashed sweet potatoes.

In a double boiler or small pan with water and a glass bowl on top, whip the egg whites with a hand blender until fluffy.

Add honey and turn on heat.

Use a whisk to whip the egg white and honey mix as it heats. Whisk for about 20 minutes (or less) until it thickens.

It will start to take on the consistency of melted marshmallows… when it is thick enough, spread over the sweet potatoes and put in the oven under broil for a minute or two to brown.

Serve plain or with toasted pecans on top.

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