For chicken or seafood: Try Spinach in Brown Butter. The mild flavor of this side dish makes it a good match for a gently flavored main dish like chicken, scallops, sole, or halibut. Plus, spinach is packed with vitamins, including A, C, K, and folate; minerals, including calcium and magnesium; fiber; and the antioxidant carotenoid beta-carotene. It helps protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and osteoporosis. Other accompaniments that won’t overwhelm a mild seafood entrée include sautéed bok choy or napa cabbage.
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Another option for chicken or seafood: Herbed Rice Pilaf. A simple pilaf will complete such a meal without competing against the main dish's gentle flavor. This recipe uses nutritious and convenient instant brown rice, which is higher in fiber than white rice and contains more rice oil, which is thought to have cholesterol-lowering effects.
For roasted meat: Try Maria’s Scalloped Potatoes. The stronger flavor of simple roasted meats like turkey, pork, or beef calls out for rich potato dishes like this scalloped potatoes recipe from Maria Rodale. Or consider creamy mashed potatoes as an alternate. Potatoes are no slouch when it comes to nutrition. They contain flavonoids, which may improve heart health and protect against lung and prostate cancers. They also provide potassium, which helps lower blood pressure.
Another classic side for roasted meat: Fast and Fancy Green Beans. You can round out the meal by quickly sautéing or stir-frying any green veggie of your choice. High-fiber, low-carb green beans are a familiar choice that almost anyone will enjoy. For something a little different, try an Asian-style alternative.
For casseroles or creamy dishes: Watercress and Radicchio Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette. A crisp salad is all you’ll need when a casserole, lasagna, or dish with a creamy sauce is the main event. Try this one featuring watercress. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that eating three ounces of watercress daily increases levels of the cancer-fighting antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene by 100 and 33 percent, respectively. This salad’s honey-mustard vinaigarette can be whisked up right in the bottom of the salad serving bowl.