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19 Healthy Sides for Different Occasions + 5 Tips

The main course might be the star of your dinner table, but it won’t stand out without the right side next to it. These healthy sides should never be overlooked when considering the menu. Here you’ll find the most tasty side dishes that are healthy.

Forget about resorting to packaged meals, whether it’s a feast or a regular weeknight dinner. You can prepare amazing side dishes using the ingredients in your kitchen and fridge and impress everyone with loads of flavor.

The best thing about the sides we suggest in this article is that they’re easy to make, tasty, and versatile, so they can elevate the taste of any main course.

Healthy Sides for Thanksgiving

Healthy Sides for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather and show gratitude for the love and good times we all share. It’s also a time to show off your culinary skills with these mouthwatering side dishes.

Throw in one or two of these two sides next to your turkey, and watch their eyes sparkle.

Here you’ll find more thanksgiving side dishes.

Quinoa and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

Quinoa and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash

Instead of the traditional meat-stuffed acorn squash, the quinoa and cranberry filling will be a healthy vegetarian alternative. Roast the squash in the oven with the flesh side down after drizzling them with olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

While they’re getting roasted, cook chopped onion until golden, and add the quinoa, salt, pepper, curry powder, and cinnamon.

Once ready, mix in some dried cranberries, more of the maple syrup mixture, chopped parsley, and chopped pistachios. Stuff the squash with the quinoa, and then garnish with some dried cranberries and pistachios. You can use butternut squash instead.

For a different flavor, you can use blood orange juice to cook the quinoa and mix in some dried apricots with the stuffing. Using a rice cooker to prepare your quinoa will save time and effort.

Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

There are many ways to enjoy this fresh yet tasty salad, but this creamy honey mustard sauce version will be a healthy and mouthwatering addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table.

Combine sweet potatoes with chickpeas, olive oil, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet. You can also add some sesame seeds for a little crunch, and let this bake for 40 minutes while tossing once.

Combine your chopped kale with your favorite greens, fresh herbs, and some carrots or cucumbers in a salad bowl. Then, whisk your olive oil with dijon mustard, honey, tahini or mayonnaise, stone ground mustard, lemon juice, and some apple cider vinegar until smooth.

Mix half of the dressing with the greens, then add the roasted chickpeas and sweet potatoes. Add the rest of the dressing and top with some feta cheese. The tahini is a healthier option than the mayo, and you can skip feta for a vegetarian version of this side.

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad

Brussels sprouts are always a staple in winter dishes, and this side dish combines other healthy and tasty ingredients in a warm salad that everyone will love.

Start by pickling the red onions by mixing sugar, salt, and vinegar in a jar with a lid. Keep the onions in a drain, pour boiling water on top, then transfer them to the jar and let them sit.

In a pan, cook bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels, but keep the fat. Cut the Brussels sprouts into small pieces or shred them in the food processor. Mix with some bacon fat, salt, and pepper and bake in the oven while stirring once.

Serve the baked Brussels sprouts with grated boiled eggs and the pickled red onions. You can prepare a vegetarian version of this dish by skipping the bacon and the eggs and using olive oil instead.

Healthy Sides for Dinner

Healthy Sides for Dinner

The perfect side dish can elevate leftover dinner. Use your sides to incorporate tasty flavors and textures to make your dinners more enjoyable.

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan

Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan

This healthy side dish takes a few minutes to prepare. Preheat the oven or the outdoor grill for this summer vegetable side dish. You can also prepare it in the air fryer to save time.

Drizzle the asparagus stalks with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese for an extra crunch. Make sure to remove the bottom of the stalks to allow the seasoning to penetrate.

Use your tongs to grill the asparagus while turning them until they’re tender. Do the same if you use the air fryer or oven. This vegetable side dish can be served with all types of meat and chicken dishes. And the crunch is unbelievable.

Cauliflower Mash – A Creamy Guilt-Free Side Dish

Cauliflower Mash

If your family isn’t a big fan of veggies, you can try this mashed cauliflower recipe and serve it next to your pot roast or roasted chicken. It also works for you if you’re on a diet.

For this recipe, you need a steamer insert to steam the cauliflower until tender. While cooking, prepare a garlic-infused olive oil by roasting garlic cloves into olive oil until soft and golden.

Put the cauliflower into a food processor or immersion blender, and add the garlic, oil, parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper and blend until creamy.

This is a tasty and creamy side dish for a low-carb diet, and you can replace the creamy cheese with some Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard. Garnish with some chives and serve while warm.

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto is the first course in a traditional Italian meal, but it can be the best side for summer dinners or a main dish on its own on busy weeknights. This is a highly customizable side dish, and every bite will taste different.

You’ll start by making an Italian dressing using olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic and onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes. Now, it’s time to assemble the salad.

You can use chopped romaine lettuce, salami, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes, drained and quartered artichoke hearts, pitted green and black olives, fresh mozzarella balls, and cubed provolone cheese.

You can add other salad greens, nuts, roasted sweet potatoes or potato cubes, cooked chickpeas, pickled vegetables, or boiled pasta to the salad bowl.

Then sprinkle the dressing on top right before serving. Skip the cured meat and use low-fat cheese for a healthier version.

Healthy Sides for Barbeque

Healthy Sides for Barbeque

Many flavorful side dishes go side by side with your BBQ dishes without stealing their thunder. These choices won’t take time to prepare, so you can focus on barbecuing your meat to perfection.

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Feta

Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Feta

This healthy side is great for summer lunches, dinners, and BBQ gatherings. It’s also a breeze to prepare, so you can assign it to your kids while you’re grilling the meat.

Cut the cucumbers and tomatoes, and chop some parsley and dill, then add all these ingredients into a salad bowl. Top the veggies and herbs with some diced feta, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, minced garlic, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

This salad can be prepared beforehand, and you can keep it in the fridge for a few days. You can add some pickled onions, olives, fresh mint, or sundried tomatoes for an extra kick.

Grilled Corn with Chili-Lime Butter

Grilled Corn with Chili-Lime Butter

Cook this sweet and spicy side on the grill while your meat is getting ready. Mix some butter, chili powder, cayenne pepper, lime zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and brush the corn ears with this mixture.

Wrap each corn ear with aluminum foil and grill for 20 minutes, turning several times. Remove the foil, then brush the corn with the rest of the butter mixture. Serve with lime wedges and roasted veggies as the perfect BBQ side dish.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

Crispy Smashed Potatoes

When you don’t have time to think about special ingredients, potatoes will always save the day. They’re so versatile, and this guaranteed recipe will be a hit.

In a pan filled with salted water, cook small potatoes until they’re fork-tender, then drain and let them cool. Preheat the oven and coat a baking sheet with olive oil, then use a burger smasher or the back of a glass to smash the potatoes until they’re about ¼- inch thick.

Drizzle the smashed potatoes with olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper, and roast until golden. Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt for an extra crunch or Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.

Healthy Sides for Chicken

Healthy Sides for Chicken

You probably serve chicken for dinner way too many times. But every time you use one of these sides, your chicken dinner will be something that your whole family looks forward to.

Roasted Carrots – With a Sprinkle of Egyptian Dukkah Sauce To Elevate the Taste

Roasted Carrots

For this recipe, using colored carrots will be a big plus, although your old regular orange carrots also work.

No chopping is required, as you just have to arrange the carrots on a parchment-lined baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, honey, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper, and roll until they’re fully coated. Roast the carrots in the oven until they’re fork-tender.

Mix some yogurt with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt, and arrange this mixture on a platter. Put the roasted carrots on top, and sprinkle with some fresh herbs.

The secret ingredient in this recipe is the Egyptian dukkah, which you should sprinkle on top of the carrots. This spice blend is made of cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, sesame, crushed hazelnuts, and pistachios. You can buy or prepare it from scratch, and the result will be divine.

Air Fryer Okra

Air Fryer Okra

Your family might not be used to the taste of okra, and some people might even resent it. But this air fryer recipe will get rid of the slime and help you prepare a classic, tasty Southern dish without the extra calories.

For this guilt-free recipe, dry your okra with paper towels, discard the stems and ends, and then slice the okra. Wipe the knife carefully between slices to get rid of the slime.

Prepare a mix of cornmeal, flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and beat an egg with some salt and pepper into a separate bowl. Dip the okra into the egg, then into the flour mixture until fully coated.

Spray your air fryer with olive oil, arrange your okra into a single layer, and cook for 10 minutes while shaking once in the middle. You can freeze the okra after coating it to serve with your chicken dinner on busy nights.

Healthy Sides for Burgers

Healthy Sides for Burgers

Fries and burgers is a match made in heaven, but it’s not always the healthiest option. These healthy sides will make your burgers shine without the extra calories.

Air Fryer Roasted Tomatoes

Air Fryer Roasted Tomatoes

You don’t have to spend hours preparing a delicious and mouthwatering side dish like this one. These air-fried tomatoes go perfectly with burgers but can also be served with pasta, chicken, and meat dishes.

You just need tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. You can use different types of tomatoes for a blend of flavors.

Depending on size, cut the tomatoes into halves or quarters, and add balsamic vinegar, oil, and Italian seasoning.

You can also use garlic powder, thyme, dried basil, salt, and pepper if you don’t have Italian seasoning. Toss them until they’re fully coated.

Set the air fryer to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and roast the tomatoes for five minutes. You can add Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, broccoli, and asparagus for a higher nutritional value. Skipping the olive oil will also work.

Avocado Fries With Hot Siracha Aioli

Avocado Fries With Hot Siracha Aioli

Enjoy these crunchy avocado fries with a hot aioli when you want to introduce a new vegetable to your lunch menu. Cut the avocados into wedges, then beat an egg with salt and pepper.

Put some panko and flour into two separate plates and dip your avocado into the flour, then into the eggs, followed by the panko. Coat both sides with panko, arrange the wedges on a baking tray or in the air fryer, and cook until golden.

While cooking, mix some sriracha with mayonnaise to prepare the aioli. For a keto alternative, replace the flour with almond flour and the panko with Parmesan cheese. You can add some garlic powder, thyme, and paprika to the panko for an explosion of flavors.

Healthy Sides for Steak

Healthy Sides for Steak

When preparing steak for dinner, you don’t want a side that feels too heavy or overwhelming. These healthy sides will complement your steak dishes and add more vitamins and minerals to your dinner table.

Corn and Zucchini Fritters

Corn and Zucchini Fritters

These tasty fritters take a few minutes to prepare and can be served as a summer brunch or a late-night snack. Grate your zucchinis, place them on a paper towel, and squeeze out all the moisture.

Mix them with some canned corn, whole wheat flour, eggs, grated cheddar cheese, milk, onion powder, garlic powder, baking powder, salt, and pepper.

Heat some avocado oil, put some of the fritter batter into the pan, and your pancakes cook for two minutes or until golden brown, then flip.

You can use Parmesan or mozzarella cheese and replace the zucchini with summer squash for a new taste. If your fritters break, then you didn’t dry your zucchinis enough.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

The sweetness of the sweet potatoes is balanced by the nuts and herbs you add to make this side dish. When you use almond milk, this will be an excellent vegetarian dish for anyone who has decided to skip your delicious steak.

While leaving the sweet potatoes to bake, pulse the pecans and walnuts with olive oil, garlic cloves, rolled oats, maple syrup, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Remove the flesh of the baked sweet potatoes and mix in the food processor with almond or full cream milk, ginger, salt, and pepper until it’s creamy.

Spread this mix in a baking tray, cover with the nutty topping, add more nuts, olive oil, rosemary, and sage leaves, and bake until the top is crispy. Top it with Parmesan cheese, freshly cut parsley, or red chili flakes.

Healthy Sides for Salmon

Healthy Sides for Salmon

Salmon is packed with vitamins and minerals, and you want to complement it with a tasty side dish that adds more nutritional value to your dinner.

These side dishes pair well with the buttery and creamy salmon and won’t take much time to prepare.

Green Beans Almondine

Green Beans Almondine

This healthy side dish is keto-friendly, gluten, and dairy-free, and it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare from beginning to end.

The recipe is pretty simple, as you just have to sauté minced garlic until fragrant, then add the green beans, salt, and pepper.

Sauté for a few minutes, top with a bit of water, and cover for a few minutes. Then add some sliced almonds and sauté until the liquid has evaporated.

Some people add some lemon zest or dry herbs for a little kick. Add some bacon bits if you want to serve this dish with pasta. It can also be the perfect side dish if you have some leftover minced meat, as you can add it towards the end before you add your almonds.

Air Fried Kale Chips

Air Fried Kale Chips

These healthy chips will always be the way to go for a blend of exciting flavors and textures. You can turn the fresh kale leaves into these delicious chips in less than 15 minutes, and they’re packed with vitamins and minerals that you would want to offer your family.

Toss the kale leaves with olive or avocado oil, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, and arrange them in the air fryer’s basket. Cook until crispy while shaking them several times to ensure they’re evenly cooked.

After removing them from the basket, sprinkle some thyme, cumin, or sesame seeds. Add some feta cheese on top, or serve with roasted potatoes as the perfect side to your salmon.

Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes

Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes

There are many ways you can incorporate more veggies into your lunches and dinners. And one of them is trying new vegetable side dishes. Some of these sides can be served on their own because they’re actually that good.

Oven-Roasted Radishes

Oven-Roasted Radishes

If you’re a fan of the peppery flavor of radishes but don’t like the bitter aftertaste, this recipe is for you. Drizzle your cut radishes with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and let them roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until tender.

Serve your radishes with fresh basil or parsley, and keep the leftovers for three or four days. Add them to your salad bowl or pasta dish, and they will taste amazing. Don’t forget to sauté the greens with some oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to ensure no waste.

Balsamic Mushrooms

Balsamic Mushrooms

In a few minutes, this side dish will be ready to be served next to your fish, meat, chicken, or other vegetarian dishes. It’s gluten, dairy, and nut-free, so it’s the safest option for your little ones.

To prepare the marinade, whisk some olive oil with balsamic vinegar, minced garlic or garlic powder, dried parsley, dried basil, salt, and pepper. But you can add other spices and herbs according to your preference.

Put the marinade in a zip-lock bag and add the mushrooms. Let them marinade for 20 minutes, then wrap them in foil packets. Grill the mushrooms on medium heat and flip halfway through. You can cook them in a pan, leaving them uncovered, or bake them in the oven.

All types of mushrooms work for this recipe, and if they’re too big, you can slice or cut them. Serve with fresh rosemary and red pepper flakes.

Tips for Serving and Eating Healthy Sides

Tips for Serving and Eating Healthy Sides

The suitable side dishes will put everything together. They act as the binding agent on your dinner table, creating an inviting feast, even if you’ve only spent a little time in the kitchen. Follow these tips to serve healthy sides that the whole family will enjoy.

Portion Control and Mindful Eating

Tips for Serving and Eating Healthy Sides

You still want to practice portion control and mindful eating even when using healthy ingredients. Think of the fats, carbs, fibers, and proteins you’ve used in your main dish, and see how you can build a healthy meal by supplying the missing nutritional elements.

Making Healthy Sides Visually Appealing

Making Healthy Sides Visually Appealing

Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating bland food. Use these recipes for inspiration and switch ingredients to include more tastes and colors. It’s a trial and error process, so keep trying until you find something that suits your taste buds.

Go for More Fibers and Proteins

Go for More Fibers and Proteins

Not all carbs are bad, but if you’ve already included pasta, rice, or flour in your main dish, it’s time to skip them when preparing your side dishes.

Proteins and fibers don’t weigh you down like carbohydrates, even if your main dish is protein-rich. Plant-based proteins found in nuts, chickpeas, potatoes, and quinoa aren’t to be missed.

Add More Flavors With Spices and Herbs

Add More Flavors With Spices and Herbs

Store-bought sauces are tasty, but they are packed with salt and preservatives. For healthier side dishes, infuse your plates with spices and herbs to elevate their taste. Don’t be scared to tweak your recipes by adding new spices and see how they turn out.

Contrast Colors, Flavors, and Textures

Contrast Colors, Flavors, and Textures

Think about the colors and textures of everything you add to your table. You want to add ingredients that pair well with some contrast to make things interesting.

So, if your main dish is on the sweet side, pair it with a tangy side served with some vinaigrette. If you have a creamy dish, don’t hesitate to serve it with semi-raw veggies or a salad for the added crunch.

We also recommend using the colors of your dishes in your favor, so mix and match dinnerware to bring out the brightness of your ingredients.

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