Thanksgiving side dishes are just as important, if not more so to some of us, than the turkey we work so hard to prepare. This is the “sides” week and there are so many choices for healthier options — but here are just a couple I have chosen for you.

Instead of mashed potatoes and gravy this year, try mashed cauliflower with peas, with a little of the broth from the turkey. It’s an easy dish and highly nutritious. Make it easy on yourself and buy frozen peas and frozen riced cauliflower, thaw and cook — and then mash the cauliflower before adding the peas.

Season with salt, pepper, and onion powder and drizzle a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil, depending on how much you are preparing. You can get more creative with other spices if you like because this dish is very forgiving — but delicious.

Why not try something different instead of the traditional green bean casserole or sweet potato dish this year? Here is a simple recipe that will not only add color to your table but it will boost your vitamin and mineral intake for the day as well. Enjoy!

Roasted Vegetables (Serves 6)

2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick on the bias

1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick on the bias

1 pound of broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium fennel bulb, if available, cut in slices

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

2 teaspoons of ginger

1/8 cup maple syrup

3/4 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

In a large bowl, toss all of the vegetables with the olive oil and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables on a large baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes until they begin to brown. Scatter the ginger and pecans if you are using them, over the vegetables, and drizzle with the syrup. Toss well.

Now continue to roast the vegetables for another 20–25 minutes until they are tender and golden. Spoon the vegetables into a serving dish and serve hot or room temperature. If you like, you can sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top at this point.

(Candy Work is certified physician assistant and a registered dietician. She has been practicing at Olean Medical Group since 2016.)

Jim Eckstrom is executive editor of the Olean Times Herald and Bradford Publishing Co. His email is