Transitioning to a plant-centric diet can help decrease your environmental impact while improving the quality of your diet. These six vegetarian meal delivery services make it easy to enjoy the benefits of a vegetarian diet at home.
Our picks for the best vegetarian meal plan services
Each product featured here has been independently selected. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Vegan Option - Purple Carrot
- Best Eco-Friendly Option - Splendid Spoon
- Best Organic Option - Sunbasket
- Best Pre-Made Meals - Sprinly
- Best for Healthy Eating - Daily Harvest
- Best for Giving Back - Mosaic
Following a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian dietary pattern is an excellent way to increase your intake of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, lentils, nuts, seeds, and beans. However, preparing nutritious plant-based meals can be time consuming and some people don't have the desire to cook meals every day.
Fortunately, there are a number of meal delivery services that are either entirely plant-based or offer vegetarian-friendly meal and snack options approved by nutritionists in addition to omnivorous choices. Some send you high-quality prepared meals while others make meal prep simple with recipe cards and quality ingredients like black beans, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, zucchini, quinoa, and more included in every box. You can also read our review of the best eco-conscious meal kit services for 2021.
How we chose these vegetarian options
To create our list of the best vegetarian meal kits, we compared each brand on a number of factors. These included:
- Organic ingredients - Are the meal options made with non-GMO organic ingredients and are they free from artificial preservatives and sweeteners? We looked for important eco-friendly labels from authorities like the USDA, Non-GMO Project and the Marine Stewardship Council for any pescatarian plans.
- Dietary restrictions - Do they offer entrees and meals that are gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, paleo, keto, low-calorie, and low-carb?
- Pricing - How much does the service cost in total and how does that break down per meal? Can customers add a la carte items to their plan?
- Packaging - How are the meals packaged? Do they generate a lot of waste or do they use recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable materials?
Based on these categories, here are the 6 best vegetarian meal delivery services.
Purple Carrot is a completely vegan meal kit subscription service that offers options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus snacks. Follow simple instructions to prepare flavorful, plant-based meals from scratch and Purple Carrot labels meals that are Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, <600 Calories, Nut-Free, High-Protein, or Quick and Easy meals that take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
Why buy: The Purple Carrot menu changes weekly, and is packed with delicious meals. You can enjoy vegetarian tacos, Thai, or Mediterranean, just to name a few options. Meals generally take between 25 to 40 minutes to prepare and start at $9.99 per serving. Read our full review here.
Splendid Spoon creates ready-to-eat, vegetarian options including smoothies, noodle bowls, soups, grain bowls, and wellness shots. Splendid Spoon offers five plans, including Breakfast + Lunch and Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, + Reset. The "Reset" is a one day plan that includes 5 plant-based soups.
Why buy: Customers can choose from more than 50 menu items that are gluten-free and vegan. Splendid Spoon offers a nice mix of comfort foods and healthy meals great for weight loss. Plus, their packaging is almost entirely recyclable. The Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, + Reset plan starts at $185.
Sunbasket is a certified organic meal kit delivery service that offers a variety of plant-based menu options, including vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian. Since it's a meal kit service, it's a perfect choice for people who like to cook. In addition to their tasty dinner recipes, Sunbasket offers breakfast, lunch, and snack options.
Why buy: These dietitian-approved vegetarian meals contain no meat and provide between 400 and 800 calories, at least 5 grams of fiber, and at least 10 grams of protein per meal. Sunbasket also makes a good choice for eco-conscious pescatarians because they only use wild-caught or sustainably sourced seafood. Meals start at $8.99. Read our full Sunbasket review here.
Sprinly is a plant-based meal delivery company that offers vegan-friendly, fully prepared, gluten-free meals that are ready to eat in three minutes or less. Most of the ingredients Sprinly uses are organic and nutrient-dense. Meals provide between 300–650 calories per dish.
Why buy: Sprinly's packaging includes 100% recycled cardboard boxes, insulation that is compostable, recyclable, and biodegradable, and recyclable plastic containers and ice packs. Meals start at $16.05 per serving, depending on the plan you choose.
If you're a smoothie lover, you've probably heard about Daily Harvest. This plant-based meal delivery service is known for their delish smoothies that come in mouth-watering flavors like Chocolate + Hazelnut and Acai + Cherry, but they offer many other tasty dishes as well. Keep in mind that some of these meals are low calorie and may need to add extra ingredients to make them filling enough.
Why Buy: Choose from over 80 chef-created, gluten-free, plant-based frozen options. Choose a plan and then customize a box with nutritional options like oat bowls, chia bowls, harvest bowls with quinoa, flatbreads, soups, and plant-based lattes. Prices range from $5.99 to $8.99 per item.
Mosaic is a smart choice for people leading busy lives. This plant-based meal delivery service provides customers with healthy veggie options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals are fully prepared and ready to enjoy in five minutes or less. Each meal contains between 5 to 20+ grams of plant-based protein and is made with nutritious ingredients.
Why buy: You can feel good about purchasing Mosaic meals. For every Mosaic box sold, the company works with a non-profit called City Harvest to rescue two pounds of healthy food and distribute it to people in need. The company also uses organic and local ingredients whenever possible. Mosaic has a $70 order minimum. Meals start at $5.
Why should you eat vegan and vegetarian?
Eating a vegetarian and plant-based diet is both better for your health and the environment. Studies show that vegetarian diets can lead to a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and can increase longevity, according to the Harvard Health Blog.
In terms of the benefits for the planet, a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition finds that vegan diets produce 50% less greenhouse gas emissions and vegetarian diets produce about 35% less greenhouse gas emissions than diets that include meat. They also significantly reduce the use of natural resources like water and help protect against deforestation associated with pastures.
If you want to introduce more vegetarian or vegan meals into your weekly routine, try one of these six meal delivery services. They are a great place to start making a positive change for your health and the environment.
Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, holds a master's degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. She is certified in plant-based nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University.
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- 10 Best Healthy Vegetarian Snack Ideas Plus The Best Brands ›
The holiday season is packed with parties, work events, and family dinners where delicious foods and beverages are enjoyed. Most of these tasty treats include some aromatic spices like cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg.
Aside from the joy that savoring a sip of eggnog or a bite of gingerbread may bring, consuming spices used to make these recipes may do wonders for your overall health thanks to the powerful plant compounds they contain.
This article covers six of the healthiest holiday spices that can be easily incorporated into a variety of festive dishes.
Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices to use, especially during the holiday season. It's used to flavor favorites like pumpkin pie, sweet potato casseroles, and spiced apple cider.
Cinnamon brings a warm, spicy taste to recipes, making it a perfect addition to both sweet and savory dishes served during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years. It's also popularly used in seasonal beverages like eggnog.
Aside from its versatility, cinnamon offers a wealth of health-promoting benefits.
For example, studies demonstrate that cinnamon has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and may help lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels when taken in high doses as a supplement. Cinnamon may offer anticancer, neuroprotective, and metabolic benefits as well.
Cinnamon contains compounds including cinnamaldehyde and proanthocyanidins, which have potent antioxidant properties and may help protect cells against oxidative damage, which is critical for disease prevention.
When shopping for cinnamon, choose Ceylon cinnamon or "true cinnamon" whenever possible for the most benefits.
Ginger is a popular ingredient in health products, and for good reason.
This pungent holiday spice is packed with health-promoting compounds including gingerols, shogaols, and paradols. Dried ginger, which is most commonly used in holiday recipes, is most concentrated in shogaols while fresh ginger is packed with gingerols.
Consuming ginger can positively impact overall health in many ways as ginger has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer effects.
Ginger supplements are commonly used as effective, natural treatments for nausea, infections, heartburn, bloating, and gas.
Plus, many research studies in animals and test tubes have shown that ginger has powerful anticancer properties, and that ginger may help inhibit cell growth and induce cellular death in certain types of cancer including gastrointestinal cancer and ovarian cancer.
Try incorporating fresh ginger into teas, dressings, marinades, and fresh juices, or using dried ginger in baked goods and dry rubs to reap the many impressive health benefits this spice has to offer.
Nutmeg has a distinctive, slightly nutty flavor that gives a powerful kick to holiday recipes like custards, ciders, and roasts.
In addition to its delicious taste, nutmeg contains a plethora of antioxidants that can benefit health in a number of ways. Terpenes, cyanidins, and phenolic compounds are just some of the powerful antioxidants found in this tasty spice.
Due to its high concentration of health-promoting plant compounds, nutmeg delivers a variety of health benefits.
Some research in animals has even demonstrated that nutmeg may be an effective natural treatment method for boosting libido.
Nutmeg is delicious when used in savory recipes such as curries and meat dishes, and it gives desserts like crisps, pies, and puddings a pleasant punch of flavor.
Allspice is the dried unripe berries of Pimenta dioica, which is native to the West Indies, Central America, and Mexico. It's used in traditional Carribean recipes like jerk chicken and mole sauces, and it's a staple in holiday dishes such as spiced apple cider, soups, and gingerbread.
Additionally, allspice has been used for hundreds of years as a folk remedy to treat ailments including indigestion, pain, headaches, and more.
Allspice has a spicy taste and pungent aroma and is rich in medicinal compounds including polyphenols, terpenoids, and lignans that offer antioxidant, antihypertensive, antiviral, and anticancer effects.
In particular, the bioactive compounds eugenol, ericifolin, and gallic acid, which are concentrated in nutmeg, have been studied for their potent anti-tumor properties.
For example, one test tube study found that eugenol was effective in fighting an aggressive type of breast cancer while another study found that allspice extract stopped the spread of, and induced cell death in prostate cancer cells. Although these findings are promising, human studies are needed to confirm these potential benefits.
Clove is another popular holiday spice that has a rich history. Clove has been used since ancient times in traditional medicine practices to treat pain and fight infections.
Like allspice, clove is rich in eugenol and gallic acid, as well as a number of other phenolic acids and flavonoid compounds, all of which offer impressive health benefits.
Clove has powerful antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
What's more, some research suggests that clove may offer anticancer effects due to its high concentration of eugenol. In fact, eugenol makes up around 89% of clove essential oil.
Additionally, clove oil has been shown to have powerful antifungal effects against Candida yeast and Aspergillus fungus, which commonly cause infections in humans.
Clove has a strong, slightly bitter flavor, so you only need to add a small amount of this spice to your favorite holiday recipes. Try adding clove to meat dishes, veggies, and baked goods.
You can even add a dash of this healthy spice to your coffee or hot chocolate for a seasonal taste during the holiday season.
Cardamom is a spice commonly used around the holidays to add a kick of flavor to baked goods and stews.
It is a staple ingredient in Indian cuisine and has been used in traditional medicine practices throughout history to treat medical conditions such as heart disease, constipation, colic, and fungal infections.
Recent research has demonstrated that cardamon may offer a variety of health benefits due to the abundance of phytochemicals — including myrcene, limonene, subinene, cineol, α-pinene, β-sitostenone, and γ-sitosterol — concentrated in this pungent spice.
A rodent study found that treatment with cardamom powder improved blood sugar, prevented increases in blood lipids, and reduced liver inflammation in rats fed a high fat diet over an 8-week period.
Other studies in test tubes and animals have demonstrated that cardamom may offer antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory effects.
Plus, one human study showed that supplementation with 3 grams of cardamom powder for 12 weeks significantly decreased blood pressure and significantly increased antioxidant levels in 20 adults with hypertension.
Interestingly, human studies are currently being conducted to assess the potential impact of cardamom supplementation on blood sugar, cholesterol, and inflammatory markers in people with diabetes and obesity, yet the results are not yet available.
Although the small amounts of cardamom used in cooking are unlikely to have the same benefits as high-dose supplements, adding cardamom to holiday recipes may benefit overall health by providing a wealth of protective plant compounds.
The Bottom Line
The holiday spices listed above are not only delicious, but they offer an abundance of powerful phytochemicals that may protect overall health.
Try adding these flavorful spices to your favorite seasonal recipes to kick up the flavor and nutritional benefits of your meal.
Registered dietitian Jillian Kubala holds a master's degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. She is certified in plant-based nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University.
- 10 Healthy Holiday Side Dishes - EcoWatch ›
- Surviving the Holiday Season With These 9 Herbs for Stress - EcoWatch ›
When it comes to daily hygiene products, it's important to be comfortable with each ingredient in the bottle. Whether you have sensitive skin or if you're just tired of reading chemicals you can't pronounce, natural face washes can leave you with a clean and soft feel without the worries of unnecessary additives and irritants in the formula.
We've sorted through the best natural face cleansers on the market so you don't have to. In this article, we'll be discussing the benefits that organic face washes can give your skin as well as reviewing the top products in different categories.
Our Picks for the Top Natural Face Cleansers
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
- Best Overall: Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash
- Best for Sensitive Skin: True Botanicals Renew Nourishing Cleanser
- Best Cleansing Oil: One Love Beauty Vitamin B Cleansing Oil
- Best for Acne-Prone Skin: OSEA Ocean Cleanser
- Best Plastic-Free Face Wash: Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Vegan Bar Soap
- Best Makeup Remover: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
- Best Budget Cleanser: Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser
Why Switch to Natural Face Wash?
Natural face wash isn't just beneficial to those with sensitive skin. Anyone can benefit from the fact that they don't contain toxic ingredients like sulfates and parabens that have been found in traditional skincare products. These synthetic materials are harsher on the skin and have been linked to triggering breakouts and irritations.
Even though additives such as artificial fragrances and color dyes make traditional face washes more palatable, they can create the possibility of worsening your skin over time and aren't necessary for a successful product. While some may think simple and natural skin care products don't work as well compared to harsher ones, natural face cleansers cut out possibly harmful ingredients and still maintain an effective formula that will keep your skin glowing and healthy.
7 Best Natural Face Washes
When choosing our top recommended natural face cleansers, we looked at factors including:
- Ingredients: Harsh sulfates, parabens and unnecessary fragrances aren't needed in your cleansing routine. Natural ingredients such as lemon and jasmine oil are just as effective without the possible irritation.
- Certifications: We've made sure the products listed below are honest in their missions and credible in their formulas, looking for certifications from the Environmental Working Group, MADE SAFE®, Credo and other certifying bodies.
- Sustainability: The skincare companies listed below use recyclable packaging, non-toxic ingredients and continue to explore eco-friendly options in order to better their products and customers.
- Customer reviews: We consider what verified customers have to say about the effectiveness of the skincare products and how they can help benefit you.
Best Overall: Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash
We named Ursa Major's Fantastic Face Wash as our best overall product because of its simple yet effective ingredients, great smell and sustainability. This natural face wash is perfect for cleansing normal, oily and combination skin types. Verified customers have even mentioned how well it works on their sensitive and acne-prone skin.
This cleanser's ingredients include lemon for exfoliation, aloe vera for hydration, sugar maple for brightening your skin and white tea for natural antioxidation. The gel foaming cleanser is also infused with cedar, spearmint and other essential oils to create a rustic aroma. And its AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) exfoliating factor allows for a non-drying yet clean and healthy look every time you wash your face.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 1,000 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Ursa Major is a B Corporation that's Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free and plastic-negative, which means it offsets more plastic than the company produces. The Fantastic Face Wash is vegan and made in the U.S.
Best for Sensitive Skin: True Botanicals Renew Nourishing Cleanser
This gentle cleanser is perfect for normal to dry sensitive skin. True Botanicals' cleanser formula includes white and green tea to wash away dirt and grime without stripping away protective outer layers of the skin, as well as organic ingredients such as soothing aloe vera and glycerin for everyday skin hydration.
Grapefruit and citrus additives provide a mildly acidic factor to thoroughly cleanse your pores without causing inflammation. The nourishing cleanser also contains lavender and jasmine flower oils that tighten and leave a luxurious natural scent on the skin.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 25 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Certified non-toxic by MADE SAFE and cruelty-free to Leaping Bunny standards, this sustainably-made product works best for dry, cracked and sensitive skin. Whether you're looking for an everyday cleanser or an anti-aging product to tighten fine lines and wrinkles, it is a solid choice.
Best Cleansing Oil: One Love Beauty Vitamin B Cleansing Oil
With the One Love Beauty Vitamin B Cleansing Oil, you can remove your makeup and cleanse your face in a single step. Designed with sensitive, dry skin in mind, the cleansing oil is non-stripping and is a perfect alternative to traditional makeup removers that can dry out your skin. The vitamin B effortlessly lifts away impurities and tones while fruit enzymes derived from papaya work to provide a light exfoliation.
The cleansing oil can be used alone or combined with other products in your daily routine. To use, pump the oil one to two times and massage in your hands until it becomes milky, then apply in a circular motion. If you want a deeper cleanse, apply the cleanser and then place a warm washcloth on top of the area for a few seconds. This will open up your pores and let the natural oils seep into your skin for a beautiful glow.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 50 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: This organic face wash is Amazon's Choice for makeup cleansing oils, and it meets the Credo Clean Standard and PETA's Global Beauty Without Bunnies certification. Each ingredient is organically farmed and designed with dehydrated skin in mind but is concentrated enough to be applied to all skin types.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: OSEA Ocean Cleanser
This natural face cleanser creates an oceanic experience with ingredients like algae and seaweed. Seaweed has amazing natural minerals that smooth and soften the skin, while algae is famously known for its hydration and toning properties. Acne is commonly caused by excess oils and dirt build-up in pores. The OSEA Ocean Cleanser's pH-balanced formula is able to target these impurities and gently clarify your skin for a clean and clear complexion.
The gel face wash works best for normal, combination and acne-prone skin, but it also is known to work well as a shaving product, allowing for a close and silky shave without the fuss of razor bumps or irritation. Be sure to wash your face with this cleanser in the morning as well as at night and follow with a moisturizer for the best results.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 35 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: OSEA is Climate Neutral Certified, vegan, Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free and uses recycled glass packaging. The company is devoted to producing clean and efficient products powered by the sea.
Best Plastic-Free Face Wash: Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Vegan Bar Soap
Keep your skin healthy and naturally revitalized with this sustainable and simple product. The Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Vegan Bar Soap is made of just three ingredients: olive oil, sea salt and water. The olive oil soap is blended, crafted and cold-pressed in Greece using traditional methods. The best-selling natural soap bar is composed of 86% olive oil and is loaded with nourishing antioxidants which leave the skin feeling soft, revived and well-hydrated.
You can purchase the fragrance-free face bars individually or in a set of either three, six or 12. This organic soap has been used by customers as a face wash, body wash or even a natural shampoo for the most sensitive skin.
Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars with over 3,300 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Vegan, cruelty-free, Non-GMO Project certified and completely plastic-free, not only does this natural face wash come at a more affordable price and lower environmental footprint, but bar soap also is known to last much longer than liquid soaps.
Best Makeup Remover: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm
This cleansing balm works to remove makeup and keep your complexion glowing without irritating or over-drying your skin. The Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm is formulated with only natural ingredients, like sunflower seed and ginger root oils, to properly remove even the toughest of makeup and leave a silky smooth look.
Apply the balm by taking a small scoop and massaging it in circular motions on the skin. Focus on areas with heavier makeup, such as the eyes, before rinsing with a damp washcloth. Once the makeup is melted away, papaya-derived fruit enzymes naturally exfoliate while moringa extract helps cleanse the skin. The organic facial cleanser will pull away all of the impurities and prepare your complexion for a new day.
Customer Rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars with over 3,500 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Not only are Farmacy products naturally free of sulfates and parabens, but they're also devoted to a sustainable future. The company is Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free, uses recycled materials and soy-based inks, and is committed to being waste-free by 2022.
Best Budget Cleanser: Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser
The Honest Beauty Gentle Gel Cleanser uses a dermatologist-tested, gentle formula that removes makeup and leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed. This gel foaming cleanser works to remove excess oil and sweat in the mornings and makeup impurities during your nightly routine.
Chamomile and calendula extract act as powerful antioxidants, creating a calming effect on the skin when you use this product. Radish root extract cleans clogged pores while yucca root, an ingredient high in vitamin C, brightens your complexion. This cleanser is free of synthetic fragrances and can be used on all skin types, including sensitive skin.
Customer Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars with over 2,700 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Honest Beauty's cleanser is EWG Verified, PETA-certified cruelty-free and uses packaging made from recycled materials as well as tree-free paper.
Frequently Asked Questions: Natural Face Wash
How should I clean my face naturally?
When looking for natural skincare, it's best to avoid ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrances and dyes. If you wear makeup, it's important to include a makeup remover such as Farmacy's Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm as the first step of your routine if your face wash isn't designed to break down cosmetics.
After using a natural face cleanser, make sure to always rinse with warm water and a non-abrasive cloth (we like reusable cotton rounds) unless directed otherwise by a product's label or a dermatologist. Following with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil and a reef-safe sunscreen will complete your routine.
Which is the best natural face wash?
There are many high-quality natural face washes on the market, but we recommend the Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash because of its premium natural ingredients and its effectiveness for all skin types. When it comes to skincare, every person's skin reacts differently, so stick to an ingredient list you can trust and try different natural products until you find whatever works best for you.
Which is the best face wash without chemicals?
Natural skincare can be just as effective as traditional beauty products but without the risk of damaging your skin long-term. Face washes such as Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Vegan Bar Soap contain only plant-based oils and sea salt to clarify your skin without the worry of harsh chemicals.
Many people fear they will pack on pounds during the holiday season because of the abundance of indulgent dishes and tasty treats served at dinners, parties, and work events.
Although enjoying your favorite recipes can be an important part of the holiday tradition, making sure that you balance your diet with nutritious foods can help you stay happy and healthy this holiday season.
Here are 10 healthy side dishes perfect for seasonal celebrations.
1. Brussels Sprout Slaw With Manchego
Brussels sprouts are nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetables that offer an abundance of health benefits. For example, Brussels sprouts are rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants including kaempferol, which has been shown to provide neuroprotective, anticancer, and heart health promoting effects (1).
Even though this vegetable is highly nutritious, many people don't like the taste of Brussels sprouts, especially when they develop a mushy texture after being cooked.
To make a holiday side dish that everyone will love, try out this Brussels sprout slaw recipe that combines crispy, raw Brussels sprouts with other tasty ingredients like almonds and manchego cheese.
2. Paleo Sweet Potato and Cranberry Stuffing
While traditional bread-based stuffing recipes are usually delicious, they can be high in calories and full of ingredients that aren't good for overall health.
For a nutritious spin on traditional stuffing, try out this inventive recipe that uses sweet potatoes instead of bread as a base. Sweet potatoes are loaded with nutrients including vitamin C and provitamin A and provide an excellent source of filling fiber.
Leave out the sausage and add legumes for a punch of plant-based protein for a vegetarian-friendly version.
3. Cauliflower Butternut Squash and Sage Mash
If you're looking for a tasty side dish, try this flavorful mash recipe that uses cauliflower and butternut squash as stand-ins for regular old potatoes.
Both cauliflower and butternut squash offer an abundance of nutrients that can benefit health in many ways. They are both teeming with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber — which can help boost the health of your digestive system (2, 3).
Sage not only adds flavor to this mash, but it boosts the health benefits thanks to the abundance of powerful plant compounds contained within its pleasant-tasting leaves including flavonoid antioxidants and essential oils (4).
4. Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn squash are small in size and make a perfect vessel for a nutritious stuffing mixture when cut in half and roasted. Acorn squash are loaded with carotenoid antioxidants like beta-carotene, which may provide immune-boosting effects and enhance the health of the eyes, heart, and brain (5).
Quinoa, on the other hand, is a highly nutritious, gluten-free pseudo-cereal that's packed with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals (6).
Try this recipe for quinoa stuffed acorn squash to impress even the most hard-to-please dinner guests.
5. Harvest Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
This recipe for stuffed sweet potatoes makes an excellent side dish to bring to holiday dinners and can also be used to make a quick, hearty meal for you and your family on cold winter nights.
To make this recipe more filling, add an additional source of protein such as fried eggs, roast chicken, or chickpeas.
The cranberries and Bartlett pears add a subtle hint of sweetness while the walnuts provide a crunchy texture. Leave out the maple syrup to reduce your added sugar intake and create a more savory tasting stuffed sweet potato.
6. Parmesan Crusted Delicata Squash Rings
Unlike most holiday appetizers, this recipe for parmesan crusted delicata squash is both delicious and nutritious.
Delicata squash have a sweet, nutty flavor and are high in many nutrients, including provitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium — a mineral essential for blood pressure regulation, muscle function, and nerve transmission (7, 8).
Sprinkle the finished product with fresh, chopped herbs like basil and oregano and serve with a no-sugar-added marinara dipping sauce for a super healthy holiday side dish.
7. Herb Stuffed Mushrooms
Mushrooms are packed with health-promoting nutrients like B vitamins, copper, and potassium. They are especially high in selenium, a mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body and plays essential roles in DNA synthesis and hormone metabolism (9, 10).
This recipe loads mushroom caps with a mixture of almond flour, sun-dried tomatoes, nutritional yeast, and fresh herbs like parsley and mint, all of which provide a number of benefits.
For example, nutritional yeast adds a boost of B vitamins while the fresh herbs offer a wide array of potent plant compounds that can help boost overall health (11).
8. Kale Salad With Apples and Cheddar
There's no doubt that kale is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat, providing over 100% of the daily value for vitamin K1, provitamin A, and vitamin C in just one cup. It's also a great source of manganese, a mineral that's important for the health of the skeletal and immune systems (12, 13).
Pairing kale with tart apples, chopped almonds, and creamy cheddar cheese creates a flavor combination that is sure to wow your holiday guests.
When following this recipe, be sure to finely chop your kale to make it tender and pleasing to eat.
9. Crockpot Rosemary, Carrot, and Parsnip Mash
Having a crockpot makes creating healthy holiday side dishes a breeze. This super nutritious recipe combines carrots, parsnips, and rosemary to create a delectable mash.
Parsnips make an excellent substitute for potatoes and are chock full of nutrients including vitamin C and folate—a B vitamin that's critical for fetal development and the production of red blood cells and DNA (14).
Carrots are also a nutritious choice, providing a dose of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like beta-carotene and lutein (15).
10. Garlic Roasted Broccoli
This garlic roasted broccoli recipe combines two of the most nutritious foods you can eat into one mouthwatering side dish.
Fresh garlic is a concentrated source of sulfur compounds including allicin and ajoene, which may provide anticancer, antimicrobial, and antidiabetic effects according to scientific research (16).
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that's a hit with adults and children alike. This tasty vegetable is a concentrated source of folate, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, provitamin A, and vitamin K1 (17).
Broccoli also contains a wide array of antioxidants such as kaempferol, quercetin, and sulforaphane, all of which offer an abundance of health-promoting effects (18).
Registered dietitian Jillian Kubala holds a master's degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. She is certified in plant-based nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at Cornell University.