Dinner Diva: Menu Makeover – Making Side Dishes Respectable

Some of the tastiest sides to load onto your plate at a summer barbecue or any other buffet table are French fries, mashed potatoes, rice, and coleslaw. Now, sadly, none of those sides are really great for you if you’re eating the classic version of the list above. However, there is a way to make these usually unhealthy sides more healthy!

French fries: I know, we all love them. My healthy solution: sweet potato fries! Sweet potatoes offer more antioxidants and vitamins than your standard spud, not to mention they’re full of fiber. How to make them: peel and cut them into your preferred thickness, brush them lightly with olive oil, sprinkle just a bit of salt, pepper, and rosemary on top, and bake (400 degrees) them until crispy. So delicious! And if you want to try a sweeter version, you could brush them lightly with unsalted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon – a spice teeming with antioxidants.

Mashed potatoes and rice: Don’t we all love love love our carbs? Your healthy challenge is going to be to start finding the carb alternatives that are just as yummy. In exchange for mashed potatoes and rice, try mashed cauliflower with a little bit of butter and cream cheese, seasoned however you season your mashed potatoes. Trust me, you may shift your alliance to that of the alternative, it’s so good. You can also refer to my own recipe of Faux-Tay-toes and Cauli-rice. For Faux-Tay-toes, steam cauliflower till tender; drain, then mash with butter, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to taste till you get a mashed potatoes texture For Cauli-rice, process cauliflower in a food processor or blender till it resembles grains of rice; steam “rice” till tender; drain; salt and pepper to taste and fluff with a fork.

Coleslaw: my summer solution to this side is very simple. Examine your coleslaw recipe, you may notice that it calls for a creamy dressing or a good chunk of mayonnaise. Some recipes even call for sugar. Instead of using those dressings and mayonnaise that are full of way too much fat and calories, make up your own dressing. I would recommend mixing together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, a touch of local honey, and salt and pepper to taste. The honey will replace the sugar, and while mixing just keep in mind you need enough to cover the shredded cabbage, not drown it. You can add a touch of Greek yogurt if you’re missing the creaminess!

So try out these healthier alternative solutions and watch your family enjoy them just as much!

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