No matter what eating style you follow, making room for veggies is key! Only 10 percent of Americans hit veggie targets, and this is a big miss! Veggies provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and bioactive substances that lower inflammation, promote a healthier gut, and reduce the risk of memory decline and health problems. Plus, a higher veggie intake is tied with higher happiness levels. So if you’re struggling to get those veggies down, these easy vegetable side dishes will help!
How to roast veggies
Roasting veggies is so simple! Just use about one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil for every two pounds of veggies. You can use more oil if you like, but don’t use less! Spread out your veggies in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure there’s room on the pan, or the veggies will steam instead of roast. Season with some salt and pepper. Roast veggies at 450 degrees, stirring them once mid-way through. Roasting time will vary, depending on the veggie, but if you’re roasting veggies with similar cooking times (like broccoli and cauliflower), you can put them all on the same sheet pan.
Two-Ingredient Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes
When you roast veggies, you bring out their natural sweetness, so they taste great on their own, but adding a shake or sprinkle of something can take them to the next level. I’m also a fan of sauteeing veggies in extra virgin olive oil and then applying the same strategy. Here are some of my favorite combos that create easy and healthy vegetable side dishes. (Here are healthy dinner ideas for nights you don't feel like cooking.)
Roasted Brussels sprouts + coconut aminos (use about ½ tablespoon per pound of Brussels sprouts, adding it when they’re nearly done)
Roasted broccoli + cashews
Roasted broccoli + parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast
Roasted carrots + sumac seasoning
Roasted carrots + maple syrup (use a drizzle before you roast)
Roasted zucchini + pesto (add the pesto to the cooked zucchini)
Roasted asparagus + chopped boiled egg
Roasted asparagus + parmesan cheese
Roasted green beans + almonds
Roasted cauliflower + tahini
Sauteed coleslaw mix + coconut animos (Use about ½ tablespoon per bag, adding it when the veggies have finished cooking)
Sauteed green beans + nutritional yeast
Sauteed mushrooms + coconut aminos
Sauteed kale + nutritional yeast
How to Enjoy Easy Vegetable Side Dishes
To keep up with the easy theme, you can create a healthy meal by combining one of the easy vegetable side dishes with protein and a wholesome carb. Here are some ideas for you:
Roasted salmon + roasted broccoli-cashew side dish + brown rice
Sauteed shrimp + roasted zucchini-pesto side dish + whole grain pasta
Grass-fed and finished flank steak + sauteed green beans-nutritional yeast side dish + roasted potatoes
Rotisserie chicken + sauteed kale-nutritional yeast side dish + roasted butternut squash
Sauteed shrimp + sauteed spinach-parmesan side dish + quinoa
Air-fryer tofu + roasted Brussels sprouts-coconut aminos side dish + brown rice
Roasted chickpeas + roasted carrots-sumac side dish + quinoa
How to shop for vegetables
First off, eating veggies so crucial to overall health that you should feel good about choosing them, whether you’re eating regular produce or organic produce. Study after study tells us that eating veggies is the way to go! However, if you have the budget for organic produce, the farming practices are more sustainable and beneficial for our environment. If pesticides are a concern, choosing organic produce is a way to lower your intake. If you’re pregnant (or planning to be), or if you have young kids at home, it may be more important to choose organic produce since these are periods where we may be more vulnerable to those chemicals. However, again, don’t worry if that’s not in your budget! (Here are 5 small lifestyle changes that improve your health.)
If you’re somewhere in between choosing all organic and not having the budget for it, here are some ways to prioritize organic vegetables:
Choose organic vegetables for those veggies you eat most often.
Look at the EWG’s dirty dozen list to determine the fruits and veggies their testing found to have the highest levels of pesticide residue. They also have a clean 15 list, which shows you where you can save money by buying regular produce since they found these foods have the lowest pesticide residue levels.
Consider buying frozen organic produce, which is only marginally more expensive than frozen conventional produce. It’s less costly than fresh organic produce and may even be cheaper than fresh regular produce. You can roast, saute, or steam frozen veggies, just like you can fresh ones.
Buy in bulk, but only as much as you’ll use. Stores, like Costco, have great deals on organic vegetables, but if your family won’t eat them, it’s not a good strategy.
Buy in-season vegetables for the best deals.
Speaking of easy vegetable side dishes, if you're looking for more simple, balanced meal ideas, be sure to download my free recipe booklet!