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Alternatives to unhealthy side dishes
January 19, 2014, 11:25 am

Traditional side dishes such as fries, mashed potatoes and saucy veggies may taste good, but they weigh you down and harm your health. Instead, choose some of the healthy options mentioned below to complement your main dish.

Salad: Healthy eating means exploring a range of greens, including baby kale and spinach, romaine and arugula. These healthy options have more flavor and nutrients than the watery, pale stuff. Top your salad with an array of colorful, healthy options, such as chopped red onion, yellow peppers, white mushrooms and orange carrots. Skip the bottled dressing and go for healthy homemade dressing made with balsamic vinegar and olive oil or greek yogurt, herbs and lemon juice.

Grilled Vegetables:  Grill vegetables for a healthy, hearty alternative by slicing vegetables such as zucchini, eggplant and yellow squash into 1/4-inch strips and brush with olive oil. Lay on the warm section of the grill for 1 to 2 minutes each side to sear in color and grill marks and move to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking for 3 to 10 minutes, depending on the vegetable and its thickness. Top with a sprinkle of salt and pepper or drizzle with a dressing made of lime juice, cumin, garlic, olive oil and honey.

Picnic sides: Make these picnic side dishes with homemade vinaigrette dressing. Whip together red vinegar, fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper for a fantastic potato salad. You could also do Asian-style coleslaw consisting of fine-shredded cabbage, carrot and green onion topped with rice vinegar, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and fresh ginger.

Whole Grains: Steamed brown rice or quinoas are great choices for neutral side dishes to serve along with healthy options such as vegetable chili or thai vegetable curry. Add chopped vegetables such as bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes and top with a dressing made with orange juice, red vinegar, olive oil and seasonings for a whole grain salad that complements main dishes.

Smoothies: A smoothie is a simple and easy way to get lots of nutrition. Super foods such as blueberries, avocado and flax can be mixed to fuel you in an incredibly delicious way. Have this smoothie when you need a simple and easy side dish.

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