Super Side Dish Recipes

The sides are the stars in these nutrient-rich recipes.

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

At meals, the entree definitely has center stage. We are usually so focused on the entree we are making or eating that we barely notice the side dishes. But most often, it's the side dishes that really boost our important vitamin and phytochemical totals!

With the antioxidants vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E in mind, here are some super side dish recipes. Each recipe is rich in at least two of these antioxidants.

Creamy Fruit Salad

This recipe is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C (plus some calcium from the yogurt and some vitamin E if you use the almonds).

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup diced cantaloupe or mango
1/2 cup (or a 6-ounce container) lemon or vanilla low-fat yogurt
Dash ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons chopped or sliced roasted almonds, or reduced-fat granola (optional)

  • Toss yogurt with fruit in medium-size bowl. Top with cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle with chopped or sliced almonds or reduced-fat granola, if desired.

Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 115 calories, 4 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat, 0.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.2 g polyunsaturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 44 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 9%.

Apple Sweet Potato Bake

Sweet potatoes have all three of these antioxidants: vitamins A, C, and E! And they are the star ingredient in this side dish. You can make this recipe without peeling the sweet potatoes or the apples. Peel or don't peel, it's up to you.

5 cups thinly sliced sweet potatoes (or yams), about 1 1/2 sweet potatoes
2 cups thinly sliced apples, such as Pippin or Granny Smith (about 2 small)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons reduced-calorie pancake syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup apple juice or orange juice
1/4 cup walnut pieces or chopped walnuts

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes, apple slices, and brown sugar together. Spoon into a 9x9-inch or similar-sized baking dish.
  • In a small bowl, blend syrup with cinnamon. Stir in the apple juice. Pour evenly over sweet potato mixture. Sprinkle walnuts over the top.
  • Cover baking dish with lid or foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 15 minutes longer (or until apple and sweet potatoes are cooked throughout).

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 128 calories, 2 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat, 0.7 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 2.2 g fiber, 24 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%

Sunshine Salad

You'll get plenty of vitamins A and C from the spinach, oranges, and strawberries when you have a serving of this salad.

4 cups fresh spinach
1 cup orange segments or sliced nectarines or peaches (peeled)
1 cup fresh sliced or halved strawberries
4 tablespoons light or reduced-calorie Italian dressing or light raspberry vinaigrette
2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

  • Toss first four ingredients together.
  • Sprinkle sunflower seeds on top.
  • Spoon into 4 salad bowls and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 96 calories, 3 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat, 0.4 g monounsaturated fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 135 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 28%.

Veggie Stir Fry

This side dish contains vegetables rich in vitamins A and C.

2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 1/3 cup broccoli florets
1 1/3 cup cauliflower florets
1 1/3 cup carrot slices, cut at the diagonal
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth (more if needed)
1 teaspoon minced or chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or 1/8 teaspoon powdered)
2 teaspoons lite soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

  • Heat large, nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil, turning the pan to coat well. Add the vegetables and saute for a minute.
  • Add in the chicken broth, garlic, and ginger, and toss to blend. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add more chicken broth if more moisture is needed.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, push the vegetables to one side of the frying pan, and stir in the soy sauce and cornstarch mixture. Heat and stir until thickened (about a minute). Stir in the vegetables to coat with the sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 67 calories, 3 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 2.7 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat, 0.9 g monounsaturated fat, 1.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 0.4 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 129 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 33%.

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