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Healthy Holiday Sides Recipe #1 from Amanda at Craving Thirty

We are sharing with you a couple of delectable, and good for you, recipes to kick off the holidays. These are healthy, delicious veggie side dishes that are just right for the holidays but also good anytime of the year. Amanda, the owner of Craving Thirty, does fabulous things with in-season fruits and vegetables and plant-based ingredients and was kind enough to create two unique dishes for us to share with you. Here's the first, stay tuned for the second!

Healthy Holiday Sides by CRAVING THIRTY

The holidays are upon us! I love this time of year for a few reasons: family and friends get together; it’s a chance to reflect on my life and the things I’ve accomplished (and yes, things I still have to get done); and of course, there’s the FOOD. 

I love the flavors that fall brings. Pumpkin and winter squash; bright, juicy pomegranates; crisp apples; warm spices; bitter greens; and hearty root vegetables. Over the years I’ve had a chance to play around with some of my favorite dishes. I’ve realized that holiday food doesn’t always have to be unhealthy. In fact, by highlighting seasonal produce and using plant-based ingredients, you can create delicious, decadent dishes without the added calories of of butter, cream and sugar. 

I’m sharing two side dishes that will add color and flavor to your holiday fare. The first recipe I’m sharing is a warm butternut arugula salad that has the added crunch of pomegranate seeds, diced apples, and peppery balsamic candied pecans.

Next post, I am also sharing my take on mashed potatoes and gravy with baked potato croquettes (think: crispy and crusty on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside - these guys take time to make but are SO worth it!) served with an oil-free mushroom gravy.

We hope you enjoy!


Warm Butternut Arugula Salad

with Quinoa, Diced Apples, Pomegranate Seeds + Balsamic Candied Pecans

Yields: 8 - 10 side servings /// Time: 30 minutes

1 small - medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces

1 [3.5oz] packet of baby arugula

1 cup cooked quinoa

warm butternut squash salad bambu recipe from cravingthirty

1 cup pecans

1 pomegranate, seeded

1 apple, diced

2 - 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp olive oil, separated

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/4 tsp sea salt, separated

3/4 tsp tsp ground black pepper, separated

Preheat oven to 425 F. Place cut butternut squash in a baking dish. Top with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Toss until butternut squash is well-coated. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes or until squash is tender and can be speared easily with a fork.

While butternut squash is cooking, cook quinoa according to packet directions. Also prepare balsamic candied pecans. Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar to start. Once mixture is bubbling, add pecans, 1/4 tsp sea salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Mix until pecans are well-coated. Then add brown sugar and continue mixing so that sugar melts evenly. For a saucier, stickier consistency, add 1 more tbsp balsamic vinegar and mix again. Mixture should be bubbling and sticky. Remove from heat and pour onto wax or parchment paper. Spread out to cool.

Just before serving, place arugula in a serving dish. Top with quinoa, butternut squash, diced apples, pomegranate seeds and balsamic candied pecans. I found this salad didn’t need additional dressing because of all the elements together, but if you’d like, you can serve this with a side of balsamic vinegar.

 Craving Thirty

About the Author

Amanda is the founder of CRAVING THIRTY, a resource for healthy and empowered food and lifestyle choices. She focuses on plant-based recipe development and lifestyle transition programs. Amanda is also founder of The Self Love Project

For more plant-based recipes and inspiration, check out her blog and follow her on Instagram: @cravingthirty.