Tag Archives: healthy side dish

Italian Cucumbers & Tomatoes

 

In the summer heat, with the garden beginning to produce bumper crops, there is nothing better than a refreshing side dish you can pick from your own yard (or farmers market or grocery store) and have ready in under ten minutes. This can be served room temperature or refrigerated, and is easy to make ahead for a party later or the next day, but fast enough to be ready like, now.

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Cucumber has cooling properties, and tomatoes have tons of trace minerals and compounds. Put the two together, and you’ll always get something delicious with a side of healthy. Feel free to mix it up with whatever herbs you have handy. I had chives, but dill, parsley, mint, or basil would also go nicely here. You could also add in feta or goat cheese if the spirit moved you.

Oh, and if you don’t have or don’t like bottled Italian dressing, feel free to quickly whip up your own vinaigrette. Combine one from each of the following: 1/4 cup (white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, lemon juice) + 2-3 tbsp (olive oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, palm oil). Optional additions: mashed or diced garlic cloves, fresh/dried herbs, salt and/or pepper, and infused oils or vinegars.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (or 2 large, diced)
  • 1/2 large cucumber, diced
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped herbs
  • 1/2 cup Italian dressing (affiliate link)

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Step 1: If using cherry tomatoes, cut in half. If using large round tomatoes, dice into quarters or eighths. Rinse the cucumber well, and cut half into small cubes.

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Step 2: Dice your herbs, feel free to combine more than one kind too. Mix it all together in a bowl and drizzle on the dressing. Toss to coat.

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This awesome side dish has graced many a backyard barbecue over the years, and will continue to do so for a very long time. It can be left in the refrigerator overnight, and up to 3 days. The longer you leave it, the more water will come out of the veggies though, so by the third day it gets a little soggy. I bet you’ll finish it all in one sitting anyhow. ūüėČ

Below is the total nutrition information for this dish. It makes about 4 servings at 1/2 cup each.

Nutrition Facts

 

User Entered Recipe
¬†¬†1¬†Serving 
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 281.4
  Total Fat 18.2 g
  Saturated Fat 1.6 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 903.2 mg
  Potassium 261.5 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 25.4 g
  Dietary Fiber 1.4 g
  Sugars 12.1 g
  Protein 1.2 g
  Vitamin A 27.7 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 3.6 %
  Vitamin C 99.1 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 0.7 %
  Calcium 2.7 %
  Copper 3.0 %
  Folate 6.5 %
  Iron 6.7 %
  Magnesium 4.8 %
  Manganese 6.8 %
  Niacin 1.9 %
  Pantothenic Acid     2.9 %
  Phosphorus     4.6 %
  Riboflavin 2.4 %
  Selenium 0.1 %
  Thiamin 2.7 %
  Zinc 2.2 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Cinnamon Ginger Candied Carrots

 

Carrots are a fantastic powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, including the one for which it is most famous, beta-carotene. This precursor to Vitamin A is what gives carrots their characteristic orange color. Along with other yellow, red, and green vegetables, carrots are a great dietary source of this vitamin which is critical for growth and development, a healthy immune system, and of course good vision.

The problem is that many people, including children and picky partners, do not enjoy carrots. Whether sliced, shaved, or cooked, some cannot handle carrots crunch or soft delicate flavor. One easy way to hide more in your usual cuisine is to puree into soups, chili, and sauces. But another way to ease loved ones into loving this healthy, humble root veg is to season and sweeten them into a soft, delightful side dish all will enjoy.

Candied carrots have always been a dish I am fond of, since childhood where three main veg sides reigned supreme: green beans, canned corn, and candied carrots.

This updated version has much less fat than the typical butter-smothered version, as well as less sugar. However, we amp up the overall flavor with the subtle spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, combined with just a touch of brown sugar and honey, to create the perfect accompaniment to whatever you put on the table tonight.

I guarantee kids and grown-ups alike will gobble them up, and maybe even ask for seconds!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 tbsp grated fresh)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey

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Step 1: Slice the carrots into thin rings. I simply wash my carrots, I do not peel them. However, you can peel them if you want.

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Step 2: Put the carrots in a pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until carrots are soft when poked with a fork.

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Step 3: If any water remains, drain all but a few tbsp. Add the spices, brown sugar, and honey. Continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes, until reduced to a thick, caramel-y sauce and carrots are tender.

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Serve your candied carrots alongside a lean meat like this spice-rubbed pork roast with other veggie sides, or with your favorite vegetarian or vegan salads or mains. See if they don’t disappear.

Brown Sugar and Maple-Apple Glazed Salmon

 

Salmon is one of my favorite kinds of fish. As I’ve said before, white fish are awesome because they are so versatile, but salmon can hold many bolder flavors while also bringing its own flavor profile to the table. With the mainstream becoming more aware of its amazing protein punch and heart-healthy omega-3s, salmon is increasingly becoming a popular protein option for any meal.

Salmon has a stronger fishy taste than some, but that definitely depends upon how you cook it and what you serve it with. There are so many good options for salmon; including grilling, broiling, sauteing, and baking.

Salmon can easily be paired with something savory or sweet. One of my favorite things to incorporate is brown sugar. The sweet, caramely notes work wonders to bring out the fish’s unique layers of taste. And to go with brown sugar, butter and apples are natural accompaniments.

Ingredients:

  • 2 3-oz salmon fillets (or one big 6 oz-er)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium firm apple (such as Gala or Fuji)
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or cider
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Veggie Rice

  • 3/4 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • Garlic salt to taste

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Step 1: Dice the apple into small bite-sized pieces. In a frying pan over medium heat, add the butter, apple juice, apples, and maple syrup. Bring to a boil, and simmer 3-5 minutes.

Step 2: Add the salmon fillets and cook 5 minutes. Flip, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Cover and simmer 5-10 more minutes, until sugar is slightly caramelized and the fish is cooked through. It should be light pink in color and flake easily with a fork.

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If you’d like to make this rice as a side, dice up the zucchini. Either in a rice cooker or a sauce pot, add the rice, zucchini, spinach, and 1 1/2 cups of water or stock. In a rice cooker, mix and turn on. Fluff before serving.

If using a pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer on low with the cover on for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve alongside salmon with garlic salt to taste.

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The salmon is flaky and sweet, with a sugar glaze and apple flavor. The apples become soft and sweet, almost like having dessert with your dinner!

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