Healthy Holiday Sides


By Sarah Geha

The holidays are a time of great joy and great food, but cooking up a feast can cause stress for those who need to accommodate special dietary needs. Do you feel intimidated about making gluten-free dishes? Are you worried that you won’t be able to cook anything delicious without using dairy or eggs? Not to worry! Check out this roundup of nutritionist-approved holiday sides and sweets from our partner publications with Edible Communities. Each recipe indicates whether it is gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, soy-free, and/or egg-free.  Happy holidays!

Fried Brussels Sprouts from Edible Michiana

Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free

Nutritionist tip: Try replacing the olive oil with ghee, which is a lactose-free butter fat that has a higher smoke point than olive oil, making it less likely to oxidize at high temperatures.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup, Rutabaga and Spiced Almonds from Edible Michiana

Gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free

Nutritionist tip: Maple syrup can have quite a bit of sugar in it. If you’re trying to cut back on sugar, try this recipe with 1/3 cup maple syrup and 3 teaspoons of sugar.  Similar to the above, you can also replace the olive oil with refined coconut oil, which has a higher smoke point and is less likely to oxidize at high temperatures. Refined coconut oil will have little to no coconut flavor; unrefined or virgin coconut oil will taste strongly like coconut and should not be used in this dish.

Roasted Cranberries, Grapes, and Cherry Tomatoes from Edible San Diego

Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free

Nutritionist tip: If you’re wondering what produce is worth buying in organic varieties, check out the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.  Tomatoes and grapes routinely make this list, so consider purchasing organic versions for this dish.

Smashed Rutabaga from Edible Silicon Valley

Gluten-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free

Nutritionist tip: Rutabagas are a root vegetable that have relatively low concentrations of carbohydrates and are low on the glycemic index. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium, and a good source of fiber as well.  Rutabagas can be a tasty, health-conscious substitute for white potatoes.

Fennel, Apple and Orange Salad from Edible Maine

Gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free

Nutritionist tip: Apples are another fruit that consistently lands on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of pesticides in produce, so consider purchasing organic apples for this dish.  Fennel is an herb that’s known to relieve gas and bloating and assist in overall digestion.  After a large holiday meal, it may be just what the doctor (or nutritionist!) ordered.

Pumpkin “Cheesecake” Brownies from Edible San Diego (pictured above)

Gluten-free*, dairy-free*, nut-free, egg-free, soy-free

Nutritionist tip*: If you want this recipe to be gluten-free, ensure that you purchase gluten-free oats. If you want this to be dairy-free, use vegan cream cheese and dairy-free chocolate chips. Also purchase refined coconut oil, as unrefined or virgin coconut oil will give the brownies a slight coconut flavor.

Sarah Geha is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Licensed Dietician/Nutritionist located in Lake Mary.  When she’s not busy enjoying family time with her husband and two young daughters, she can be found playing with her dog or puttering around her garden.  Visit her at