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Quick and easy side dishes.

Posted by: valeriefender on Oct. 26, 2011

Coming up with the main dish for dinner is often the easy part of meal planning. For me, I often find myself at a loss when it comes to the dishes that round out the meal. The side dishes you choose can bring balance to the meal, fill in the holes in the nutritional balance to your food choices.

Often, I see dinner as the last chance to balance the fruit and veggie tally for the day. Yes, I know we should be eating a balance of them over the whole day, but let's face it none of us eat enough fruits and veggies every day. This is a good time to even out your eating for the day.

So, what are your favorite sides? On busy days I tend to keep it simple. I'll make a veggie loaded salad or heat up several different vegetables to cover a green veggie and perhaps a yellow. Thankfully my family enjoys most vegetables, but there are those times when what is served is not the favorite.

Dressing up a simple side dish is very easy and requires little time. That can of green beans can be dressed up easily with the addition of some chopped sweet onion and a leftover piece or two of bacon. Even if all you do is add a dash of onion powder, it will give that plain can of green beans new life.

Is broccoli one of those dreaded dishes? Thankfully my family loves it. If it's not a favorite with your household, try adding a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese or a light cheese sauce. They will love it. Maybe your family just hasn't found a recipe or preparation that they enjoy. One way to cook broccoli that is often overlooked is roasting. There is an amazing recipe on Gling for roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

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Unfortunately, my family does not like brussel sprouts, I absolutely love them. Can you guess how often I get to enjoy them? Next to never, but when I saw this recipe hit the recipe section of Gling this week I knew it was one my family will just have to try. What could be better than brussel sprouts with bacon, after all bacon makes everything better right? Thank you Tanya G for sharing this amazing looking recipe, I can't wait to try it.

Are peas a dreaded vegetable in your house? It's a mixed bag at my house. When I was a kid I loved it when my mom would make peas and boiled potatoes with a cream sauce over them. So tasty! Simply boil up a couple of potatoes that have been chopped into bite size pieces. If you chop them up before you boil or steam them, it will significantly cut down on the cooking time, even better is to use steamed new potatoes. While they are cooking, make a white sauce. Once the potatoes and white sauce are done, simply stir the peas (I prefer fresh or frozen peas) and potatoes together. Simmer together until the peas are heated through. Tasty!

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Now, how many raw vegetables does your family eat? Is this a struggling point for you in your menu planning? Raw vegetables are so incredibly good for you, knowing that I try to incorporate them into my menu plans as often as I can. Adding a dip to the plate of raw veggies often does the trick. This tactic also works well with fruit, if you have members of your family that aren't really good about eating fruit.

Another vegetable that is extremely good for you and often a bit boring as a side dish are carrots. What do you do with them? Make carrot sticks? Sure, steamed carrots are also very good, but still rather boring. Try adding a glaze to them, just a bit of butter and honey tossed over them with a bit of sea salt is an amazing way to enjoy them, you could even add a bit of mustard for a bit of a kick. My favorite way to enjoy them is with a cranberry glaze, it's so easy to transform the every day side of steamed carrots into a tasty dish everyone will enjoy.

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One of my favorite vegetables to enjoy this time of year is squash, all kinds! Spaghetti squash is a favorite in my house. Even a simple acorn squash can be made into a tasty side dish, add a bit of butter or olive oil and a spoon full of brown sugar and roast in the oven. So tasty, and so simple. Squash is also a very inexpensive side dish that is loaded with all kinds of good for you extras. Obviously, the more you doctor it up with butter, sugar or whatever you desire you are going to pack on the calories and fats too. I've found that using minimal olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a touch of sea salt will create a tasty side to go along with just about any meal.

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Let's not forget the potatoes. This has got to be one of the easiest and most inexpensive side dishes around. Roast them, mash them, fry them, boil them and so much more. It never hurts to have a few extra ideas in your arsenal of recipes though, give you more options for those days when the plain old potato dish just won't do.

Finding the perfect side dish is so easy when you have a good list of recipes to choose from. Thankfully Gling has many to choose from. Does your family have a favorite that you don't see in our recipe section? We'd love to have you add it, we are always looking for tasty new dishes to try here. It's what we do, we love to try new and tasty dishes and tell everyone about them!

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