If prepared in the right way, a vegetable side dish can be as delicious and filling as the main dish. Preparing a vegetable with a different cooking method, adding different flavors and colors can make the difference for your child if they try it and like it or not. The philosophy we have in our household which patterns the MyPlate guidelines, is to make half of your meals fruit and veggies. When you make your side a veggie that is full of flavor, it is much easier to fill half your plate with it! We have 10 Healthy Veggie Sides Recipes to serve with dinner to make your meal complete!
Honey Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes
These sweet potatoes from Buns in My Oven are a deliciously sweet side dish with a great texture – a perfect way to serve sweet potatoes to your kids for the first time!
Super Simple Spaghetti Squash
This is a great side dish to replace potatoes or pasta with a meal. Your kids will love watching the ‘spaghetti’ form – let them get involved by giving them 2 forks and scraping away the squash!
Crunchy Homemade Onion Rings
Even kids who may be hesitant about trying onions, may go for some baked onion rings! Skip the deep fryer and bake these for a healthy version that the entire family will love.
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large onions
2 eggs, beaten
Combine bread crumbs, seasoned salt, and garlic powder, and set aside. Combine eggs, and beat till frothy. Slice onions into rings. Dip onion rings into egg mixture, and then into bread crumbs. Arrange in single layer on a baking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray). Bake in oven at 375 for 20 minutes.
5 Delicious Ways to Cook Carrots
Sometimes it takes a different cooking method for kids to like a vegetable. If your kids don’t like raw carrots, try one of these ways to cook them! They are all different but delicious and produce a different flavor.
Simmer in chicken broth. When cooked to desired texture, add a touch of butter and salt.
On baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and parmesan cheese. Cook at 400 for about 20 minutes.
I do this super quick and cooked to perfection in my Rice cooker/ steamer.
Delicious in stir-fry’s and a great compliment to other vegetables. Pour 1 TBL oil in a pan. Add chopped vegetables. Stir every minute or so until vegetables are cooked.
5) Flavor cooked carrots
Try a new and different flavor, like Ginger-Orange Carrots. This recipe came from my running partner, Eliece.
Ginger – Orange – Carrot – Recipe
5 medium carrots or 1lb. bag of baby carrots
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ginger
2 Tablespoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup orange juice
Slice carrots as desired (baby carrots do not need to be cut) Cook until just tender (about 20 minutes) & drain. Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and ginger in a small saucepan. Add orange juice; cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. boil one minute. Stir in butter. Pour over hot carrots, tossing to coat evenly.
Citrus Grilled Asparagus
This dish adds a lightness and also a sweetness to asparagus which can have a slightly bitter flavor. Kids are more familiar with the orange flavor and will enjoy the yummy flavor it adds to the asparagus.
1 lb asparagus
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse asparagus well and snap the ends off. Place on tin foil or a grilling pan. Brush coconut oil onto the asparagus. Squeeze the juice of the lemon and orange onto the asparagus. Zest the lemon and orange and sprinkle on top. Grill on medium-high heat. For thick asparagus, grill for 10-12 minutes. For thin asparagus, grill for 5-8 minutes.
Ultimate Roasted Broccoli
Roasted broccoli is the cooking method that has helped my kids fall in love with broccoli. If they are struggling eating veggies, I know I can fall back on roasted broccoli! This recipe from JoCooks adds some yummy ingredients making it even more delicious!
2 big heads of broccoli or 3 smaller ones
5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup roasted pecans, chopped
⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks and cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. I cut mine in really small florets because I wanted bite size florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with lemon juice, pecans and Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.
Cheesy Baked Zucchini Rounds
This simple 2 ingredient zucchini dish from Five Heart Home will become a regular on your menu. These bake at a relatively high temperature, making the zucchini get nice and soft, with an almost creamy texture, while the Parmesan turns crispy and golden brown.
2 medium-sized zucchini
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic salt & freshly ground black pepper, optional
Place oven rack in center position of oven. Preheat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil (lightly misted with cooking spray) OR parchment paper.
Wash and dry zucchini, and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange zucchini rounds on prepared pan, with little to no space between them. If desired, lightly sprinkle zucchini with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of zucchini. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until Parmesan turns a light golden brown. (Watch these closely the first time you make them and pull them out of the oven early if the Parmesan is golden before 15 minutes!) Serve immediately.
Creamy Cauliflower Rice
Rice is a staple side dish for many meals, and this boosts the nutrition by using mostly cauliflower with a small amount of rice. This makes it a delicious familiar dish, but a powerhouse in the nutrition department.
6-8 cups chopped cauliflower
4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water
½ cup milk
1½ cups brown rice (I used a brown rice blend)
1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste!)
2 tablespoons butter
6-8 cloves minced garlic
½ cup Mozzarella cheese for topping (more to taste)
Cook the rice according to package directions. Set aside.
Bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and boil for about 10 minutes, until tender. Transfer cauliflower pieces to a blender or food processor.
Puree the cauliflower, adding milk or extra vegetable broth to get a smooth, creamy consistency. Season with salt. Pour over the cooked rice and stir to combine.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter and add the garlic, sauteing over low heat until the garlic is very fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add the creamy rice mixture and stir until butter and garlic is incorporated. Add cheese on top or stir it throughout the rice to get it melted. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Roasted Veggies with Savory Cheese Sauce
We have found that kids love dips and sauces and are much more likely to try things when they can dunk, or smother their veggies. This savory sauce is a pleaser for both kids and adults!
2 Tbsp Butter
2 Tbsp Flour
1 1/4 cups milk
1 tsp chicken bouillon paste (or 1 cube, crushed)
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 – 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux. Slowly pour in the milk while whisking constantly, make sure there are no lumps. Stir in the bouillon. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted. Keep the sauce warm.
Quick and Easy Homemade Fries
A side of homemade fries goes well with many meals, but sometimes there just isn’t time when you are rushing to make dinner. This is one of our favorite shortcuts so that you can have these as a side anytime even if you are short on time!
Step 1: Peel, rinse, and cut
This is a great place to get the kids involved. They’ve been peeling potatoes for as long as I can remember. The cutting part will take some time. My kids started with a crinkle cutter, because it’s pretty easy to use and less likely to cut them. We sort into bowls with two potatoes worth of fries in each bowl. That’s the perfect amount for fitting into quart size freezer bags.
Step 2: Blanch
After the potatoes are rinsed and cut, we drop them by the bowlful into boiling water. We wait 2 minute, and then drop into ice water. Leave in the ice water for several minutes- the longer the better, up to 20 for the crispiest fries! Blanching is an important step. It makes the difference between “Crisp Tender” veggies and mushy veggies. It also slows down the enzyme reactions that cause foods to lose their flavor and color.
Step 3: Blot dry and arrange on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper
Step 4: Optional: Pre-season the french fries
This is totally optional, but sometimes we’ll add garlic salt, seasoned salt, or nothing at all on this step.
Step 5: Freeze for 12-24 hours
Step 6: Once frozen, arrange into freezer bags. We use 2 potatoes per quart size bags.
Return to the freezer and store up to 6 months!
When it’s time to eat, simply take one bag out of the freezer, and arrange on a parchment lined cookie sheet. We drizzle with olive oil (although this is optional as well), and bake at 425 for about 40-45 minutes. Watch carefully. You don’t want to burn them, but you want them to brown up and be crispy.