As we get older, we become more responsible. And with these responsibilities comes eating right. There are a few reason why this becomes a priority for us. Whether it is weight-gain, encroaching high cholesterol, blood pressure, or for just general well-being. It is sad to say we will not always be spring chickens.
When I reached my mid-twenties, I was not that concerned with it. However, by my late twenties, I realized I cannot keep eating potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta with every dish I ate. By just changing my side dishes for dinner I was able to cut some serious pounds and felt great afterwards.
Once I discovered how to eat dinner healthily, I then had to endlessly search for side items that didn’t contain starch. It was harder than it seems to find good sides, that also filled me up. Once I found them. I forgot the starch and have been mixing and matching here and there, using these 8 easy side items.
- Mashed Cauliflower
- 1 head of fresh cauliflower
- 2-3 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup chopped green onion
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper for taste
Cut head of cauliflower into 8 chunks. In a large pot, add 1 inch of water. Steam cauliflower for 15 to 25 minutes (15 for rice consistency, and 25 for mashed potato consistency), adding water when necessary. Once cooked, drain the excess water and begin to mash. As you mash, you will see excess water coming out of the cauliflower, absorb this water as much as possible with paper towels. Once fully mashed and water is removed then add the remaining ingredients over medium-low heat until cheese is melted.
Note: You can also modify toppings or mix-ins with sour cream, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, or whatever you desire. Many other recipes online say to add milk to make mashed cauliflower, but I have just found this to make the recipe too runny and not the right texture. When I am trying to make a faux rice, I only add some butter, just to keep it simple.
- Baked Butternut Squash
This is seriously slap-yo-mamma good! I will not lie I have eaten this as a main dish before and taken it to holiday parties. It is amazing. It also goes great with chicken or beef. If Mashed Cauliflower isn’t your thing, once you have baked this recipe you can also mash it, creating a nice and flavorful mash.
- 2 1/2 pounds of butternut squash, peeled, and cut into 1″ pieces
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 6-7 sage leaves, chopped
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 1-2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius. Toss squash with cream, sage, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in baking dish. Bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in 1/2 of the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle the rest on top. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes. Let set for 5 minutes before serving.
- Roasted veggies
- 1 large head of Broccoli, cut into medium sized spears
- 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
- Garlic powder
- Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Preheat the oven to roughly 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 215 degrees Celsius. On a baking sheet spread the broccoli evenly and coat well using some olive oil in addition to the seasonings. Bake 10 minutes, flip or stir the veggies, and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Note: You can substitute the broccoli for cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, or any other veggie mixture. The baking time may be a bit shorter or longer depending on the vegetable, but always has great results.
- Zucchini Noodles
Light and flavorful, I always prepare these when I want to substitute pasta. The tenderness of the zucchini when lightly pan fried matches that of noodles. The zucchini isn’t a strong flavor and compliments tomato sauces, Alfredo sauce, and pesto sauces.
- 1 pound of zucchini
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Spiralize or slice lengthwise strips of zucchini with a potato peeler or mandolin on the thinnest setting. In a large frying pan add olive oil and zucchini. Saute with seasonings for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Blanched Beans
A simple way to get fresh, yet crispy green beans. Once blanched, they are easy to dress up, by adding soy sauce, lemon juice or roasted almonds for a green bean almondine.
- 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and halved
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 gallon of water
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp sliced almonds, roasted
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
Bring a gallon of water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add green beans and blanch for 5-8 minutes or till bright green. Drain with colander and set aside. Heat pan with some olive oil and garlic. Toss in green beans and cook until desired doneness. Top with roasted almonds.
Note: There are endless add-ins to this recipe including soy sauce, lemon juice, or caramelized onions to name a few.
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash Noodles
- 1 spaghetti squash, split in half and de-seeded
- Salt and Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Dried Basil
- Olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an oven tray with foil. Coat each half of the spaghetti squash with some olive oil, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and dried basil. Place on the oven tray with facing down, with the rind on the outside. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Using an oven mitt and a a fork, hold the squash and scrape the squash from the inside, creating a spaghetti. Place in a serving dish.
- Sauteed Mushrooms
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1-2 medium piece of garlic
- 1 pound of mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 1-2 sprigs of thyme
- 1/4 cup of red wine
- Salt and pepper
In a frying pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and let the garlic flavor the butter. Mix in the red wine and cook until wine has decreased by at least half, to cook off some of the alcohol. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook until the mushrooms are tender and release some of their liquid.
- Brussel Sprouts
- 1 batch of fresh Brussels sprouts, halved
- 2 slices of bacon
- 1 1/2 cup of chicken stock
- olive oil, if needed
In a sauce pan, fry bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts to the sauce pan and brown them in the bacon grease, add olive oil if necessary. Stir in the chicken stock and simmer until tender for about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and top with crispy bacon.