5 Healthy Side Dish Recipes Perfect for Almost Any Meal

The right side dish lets the main dish shine, but also brings something special to the table.

November 3, 2009

Sometimes simple is best for a side dish.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Ever have trouble coming up with easy side dishes for a new entrée recipe you’re trying out? We’ve all get stumped once in a while. But it doesn’t have to happen, especially if you try these easy recipes for healthy side dishes. As rule of thumb, you want a side dish that offers a different flavor and texture than the main dish, but not a taste that's so different it seems to belong to a different meal. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, these healthy side dishes from the Rodale Recipe Finder will help you make a great match.


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.

Check these stories for other easy side dish ideas:
5 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Polenta
5 Healthy Recipes for Walnut Lovers
5 Easy Recipes Rich in Amazing Magnesium

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.

Tags: Rodale News
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