Side Dishes

How to Make Greens 3 Easy Ways

Greens are one of the easiest side dishes you can make for dinner or even easily thrown in with another meal, like with eggs at breakfast.

Today, I’m sharing with you How to Make Greens 3 Easy Ways…

First, let’s clarify what I mean in this post by greens, because obviously there are unlimited varieties of edible greens available! (Lettuce, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, arugula, dandelion greens, and much, much more!)

Here though, I’m focusing in on 3 of the more common greens so that you can be sure to find them locally and affordably:

Mustard Greens
Collard Greens
Kale Greens

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How to Make Mustard Greens

Ingredients

1 bag of pre-chopped greens from store OR 1-2 fresh heads of mustard greens, washed and chopped
Sprinkle Salt
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
Small amount real bacon bits in bag from store (or cook 3 slices of bacon well, then crumble into bits)
Drizzle olive oil

Instructions

In a medium-sized pot, boil the greens and a sprinkle of salt over high heat for 3 minutes, then drain thoroughly. Put the greens in a strainer, and press them into the strainer with a wooden spoon, to squeeze out any remaining water from the cooked greens.

Meanwhile, saute the sweet onion and garlic in olive oil for 3-5 minutes or so in a pan over medium heat.

Add in the greens and saute for 2 mins on high heat. Once they are finished, drizzle 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar over the greens and add the bacon bits. Serve immediately.

This is a 10 minute dish, top to bottom - easy to make, affordable to buy the ingredients. And family-friendly - it’s one of my daughters’ favorite side dish!

Here’s the next one:

How to Make Collard Greens

Ingredients

1-2 head of Collard Greens, washed and chopped in thin ribbons (or a full bag of pre-chopped collards from the store)
Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
half fresh lemon, squeezed over the greens
Salt & Pepper

Instructions

Heat a large pan on the stove over medium heat and drizzle the olive oil into it once it’s hot. Add the onions and saute them for about 5 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and saute another 2 minutes.

Add in the ribbon-sliced greens (or bag of store-bought) and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until the greens look jewel-toned.

Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the greens and stir. Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Under 10 minutes, easy to prepare, and SO delicious, you will want them again and again!

For the 3rd idea and the recipe on how to make easy-peasy Kale Chips, go HERE!

Tell me, do you think these recipes will help you get more green veggies into your eating plan? Try one or all 3 of ‘em, and then comment below with your results! I’m telling you, you’ll be hooked once you try them!

How to Cook a Spaghetti Squash in the Oven

Naturally sweet and crunchy, spaghetti squash makes a great substitute for the pasta in spaghetti, served with chicken Parmesan or just by itself with a pat of butter melting over it.  It is light, pleasant and nutritious, with many health benefits.  

High in vitamin C, potassium, calcium and magnesium, squash has only 40 calories and 4 grams of sugar in a FULL one cup serving. Packing a punch in the omega-3’s and omega 6’s as well, this underrated natural beauty is a must-eat for health!

Here are the simple steps to cooking a spaghetti squash in your own oven:

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Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash (carefully – the outer shell is hard!) in two pieces, lengthwise.

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Step 2:  Using a spoon, scrape out all the seeds and pulp in the soft interior of the squash.

Step 3:  Place the two sides face up (or down, it doesn’t really matter) in 1 inch of water in a large baking pan.  Cover the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until squash is tender and soft.

 
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Step 4:  Once slightly cooled, take a fork, and peel the squash strands, just like spaghetti, off the rinds and into a bowl.  Serve and enjoy!

At our house, we love our spaghetti squash with this healthy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. The two put together pack a nutritional punch that offers a filling and comforting meal everyone enjoys!

Here’s a how-to video on how to do it:

Was this how-to helpful? Would you like to see more?

Our FRESH Start Club members get helpful how-tos just like this every single month, sometimes even before they're posted here on the blog. Plus new recipes, videos, printables and a warm & friendly support group. If you're ready to find support in your own quest for a healthy lifestyle, GO HERE to learn how you can join us! {Oh and it's FREE!}

Here are some other delicious recipes we think you might enjoy:

How to Make Healthy Turkey Mini-Meatloaves

How to Bake Acorn Squash Rings

Grilling Chicken & Salmon

Baked Maple Acorn Squash Rings

This is an easy-to-make side dish for any time of year, but right now, during the holidays…it’s especially filling and comforting!

I’ve made Acorn Squash as a side dish for my hubby in the past, but just by simply halving the squash and digging out the seeds. Then adding (too much) butter and brown sugar before baking for an hour…so I wanted to find a recipe that is healthier and frankly, easier! This is it!

After reading that boiling or steaming squash actually lessens the vitamin and mineral load, I determined to make it only by baking or broiling in the oven to preserve the wonderful amount of Vitamin A, C & B-6 as well as folate, niacin, potassium, magnesium found in it!

Oh and did ya know that just a 1/2 cup serving (that’s only about 1-2 rings!) is almost 20% of your daily fiber needs? This is such a tasty way to knock out your fiber quota!

Another cool fact - when we combine fibrous vegetables like squash, potatoes (especially sweet!) and a healthy fat like olive oil and then cook them together, it’s actually proven to help the body break down and digest the nutrients more effectively! Super cool, right? Cuz of course it tastes better this way, too!

Here’s How to Make Baked Maple Acorn Squash Rings

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Ingredients

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  • One medium Acorn Squash (here’s a pic of the whole squash so you can see which one it is!)

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup

  • Grind or two of Cracked Black Pepper

  • Grind or two of Himalayan Salt


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over a cookie pan.

  2. Slice the Acorn Squash in 1/2 inch or so thickness, then using a paring knife (or just your fingers) clean off the strings and seeds from the middle. (You can also use a round cookie cutter if that’s easier!)

  3. You should get about 6 slices from a small, 8 from a medium or even up to 10 from a large squash!

  4. Lay the slices on the cookie sheet, then drizzle the oil and maple syrup over each slice. Lightly crack the pepper and grind the salt over each slice.

  5. Pop in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until nicely done to taste (they should caramelize and brown a bit!)

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OK now it’s your turn to try it and tell us what you think!

Can’t wait for you to bake a batch of these for your loves, then come back and tell us how they turned out! Comment below with your experience!

Easy Oven Kale Chips

Kale has returned to the scene as a popular green that is not only full of delicious flavor, but also as an extraordinary source of vitamins A, C and K. These three vitamins are at the top of the list of immune-boosting benefits to our bodies, so this easy-to-prepare green leafy vegetable is a great option for your family's table. 

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Aside from its rich nutrient value, Kale is great at boosting your immunity, and health! Eating kale is proven to help cancer prevention, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, promoting compounds for eye health, and more. ALL good reasons to eat more kale!

There's only one disadvantage with eating Kale (besides that it disappears from the plate too quickly!) and that is it can interfere with your body's absorption of calcium. To help prevent this problem, avoid eating calcium-rich foods at the same time. 

Besides eating kale fresh in salads or smoothies or wilted on pasta dishes, these kale chips are a popular way to get enough greens into your family and your own body!

Our friend & healthy lifestyle leader Lolita McNeal shared this easy recipe with our FRESH Start Online Community as a wonderful way to get the satisfaction of a salty crunch into our diet when we are craving chips or other salty no-no's!

LOLITA’S EASY OVEN KALE CHIPS

Here's How To Make Them:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 heads fresh kale (you can find it in the produce section of your grocery store)

  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375-400 degrees. Cut the greens into 2-inch sized pieces. Rub the kale with extra virgin olive oil, evenly coating both sides.

  2. Spread out the pieces evenly on 2 parchment lined baking sheets; season with salt and pepper.

  3. Bake, rotating and switching pans halfway through cooking, until crisp, about 8 minutes.

  4. Optional: Zest lemon over the hot chips.

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Lolita shares:

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"From my experience, you need very little extra virgin olive oil, the cooking time was closer to 6 minutes than 8, and it's okay if you leave out the lemon zest.  Some other flavor suggestions included with the original recipe were:  bbq rub, sriacha [a type of hot sauce], ranch dip mix, and sesame seeds. 

My family's favorite were the ones I rubbed with a little bbq sauce. If you decide to try the bbq kale chips look for low sugar bbq sauce."

 

 

If this recipe was a hit with your family, let us know in the comments below!

Here at FRESH Start, our mission is to share simple steps to better health that the whole family can get on board with - and we want to know how we're doing! Drop a note below and let us know.

Homemade Mac n Cheese

Kids and picky eaters can be tricky to please from our home kitchens, and they don’t always get as excited about nutritious dinners as we moms do! This super-easy homemade mac n cheese side dish will please both mom and picky eaters, and you'll do it in only 15 minutes!

It happens to be a lot of grownup’s favorite side dish too. In our house, we enjoy this side with fish entrees, chicken fingers and meatloaf.  

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How to make it:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 box whole wheat elbow or gluten-free elbow noodles

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 4-6 oz shredded cheese

Instructions

1. Saute the uncooked noodles in a drizzle of oil for about 2-3 minutes, stirring to avoid burning them. (This step is optional, and gives the noodles more of a "crispy" texture once cooked, rather than mushy.)

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2. Boil the noodles in several cups of water in medium saucepan over medium heat until just done (takes about 8 minutes.)

3. Drain noodles in strainer, add them back into the saucepan.

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4. Over low heat, stir in shredded cheese, almond milk, butter and olive oil.

5. Continue stirring until just melted, then remove from heat and serve immediately.

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For those of you curious about the other dish pictured here with our Homemade Mac n Cheese recipe...it's Coach Bess's Salmon and Quinoa Patties. Just click here for that recipe!

NOTE: I use this brand of gluten-free noodles for our homemade mac n cheese - in case you were wondering and wanted to try them. They are NOT just "filler food" like so many other pasta options. They are full of nutrition, as you can see on the label! (The protein amount on the label is due to the quinoa used in this brand!)

Oh and they are affordable and easy to find at your regular grocers! 

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What do you think? Would you try this recipe at home? Let me know in the comments!

Easy, Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes You Can Cook

Do you ever find yourself perusing the fresh foods section of the grocery store, wondering what the heck you’re to do with all those great-looking veggies? 

You know you are supposed to eat more of them, you hear about the benefits to that all the time, but just don’t know how to fix them?

Today, I’m going to give you a few ideas on how to make easy and fast veggie sides for dinner.  No, not the pop-in-the-micro kind!  Those can be a great backup plan, but let’s explore these dishes and let you decide which ones sound truly delicious to you!

Here are a few ideas to try

Greens Made Easy

Cooking greens used to intimidate me, but after a couple practice tries, this dish is now a constant go-to in this house! 

Besides being rich with benefits, like iron, antioxidants, and minerals, collard greens are also very tasty and filling. I even get a couple of the kids to dig into this one!

How to make them:

Ingredients:  

  • 1 head collard greens,

  • half fresh lemon, squeezed over the greens

  • ready-made real bacon bits

  • ¼ sweet onion, diced

  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Slice up the greens in thin ribbons of about ½ inch thick, and 3-4 inches long, set aside.

  2. Place large sauté pan or wok over medium to high heat, add oil to pan.

  3. Add onions, garlic to hot oil, sauté for about a minute.

  4. Add in the greens and bacon bits, allowing the greens to wilt for about 2 minutes.

  5. Squeeze the fresh lemon over the wilted greens, stir one or two more times, remove from heat. Serve!

Sweet Potato “Fries”

A favorite at our place, and we were so glad to discover that sweet potatoes are a super-food, packed with many healthy benefits! 

Carotene (which is Vitamin A and gives the potato it’s orange color), and minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron give this great-tasting treat it’s superpower! 

We love it many ways, but the oven-roasted “fries” are a fave of the pickier eaters around our place!

Ingredients:  

  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, sliced into thin strips (1/4 inch by 2-3 inches)

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil

  • Himalayan pink salt (or ANY salt to your taste)

  • Fresh cracked pepper

Instructions: 

  1. Roll the fries in the olive oil until coated gently

  2. Salt and pepper them, then roast at a high heat (375-425 degrees, depending on your oven) for about 10-15 minutes, or until crispy and done.

    Too easy, too delicious, very healthy as a side dish or snack!

Black Bean & Sweet Corn Salsa

Over time, corn (esp sweet corn!) has gotten a bad rap in the health-eating industry ... but you may be happy to know, it is STILL healthy (as is most every other God-made food!)

Because it is a veggie higher in sugar content, it is better to eat it it in small amounts.  We mainly enjoy corn as one ingredient in a dish instead of the main dish.

Corn contains many health benefits for your body, like lutein (which fights macular degeneration in our eyes!) as well as several vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phospherous.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sweet corn (you can use frozen, just allow it to thaw)

  • 1 can rinsed and drained black beans

  • ¼ sweet onion, diced

  • 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp Italian dressing OR 2 fresh limes, squeezed & stirred into mixture

Instructions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together.

  2. Refrigerate for two hours or more before serving for flavors to mix and blend.

Hopefully you are encouraged now to try these yummy, easy and yes, healthy dishes in your own kitchen. 

Healthy veggies sides can (and should!) be vibrant, easy and enjoyed by the whole family!  Let me know what you think of these helpful ideas in the comments below.

Jicama Slaw

Looking for a healthy side dish for that next gathering (to replace a maybe-not-so-healthy-choice!) or just to add as a filling and tasty side dish to your grilled chicken or fish? 

This beautiful, super-easy side salad is a perfect pairing to any FRESH entree! Try it and then tell us it's not your new favorite!

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Here's how to make this easy side dish:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Medium Jicama Root, grated with a cheese grater

  • 1/2 finely diced orange, yellow or red bell pepper (or you can use mini-sweet bells, too!)

  • 1/2 de-seeded cucumber, diced finely

  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced (less if it's a strong one! You don't want the flavor to overtake the slaw!)

  • Handful FRESH Cilantro, minced lightly with sharp knife (so as not to bruise it!)

  • 1/2 to 1 large lime, squeezing the juice directly into slaw mixture (to taste)

  • 2/3 of small can of Mandarin Orange Slices, diced (add just 1-2 Tbsp of the juice, but not all of it!)

Instructions:

Stir all the ingredients together, adding or tweaking anything you'd like to your unique taste (such as 1/2 fresh jalapeno, diced, for heat.) 

Refrigerate mixture for about 1-2 hours then stir thoroughly again and serve!

Enjoy as a FRESH and healthy side dish that everyone loves! At potlucks and gatherings around our house, this dish gets wiped clean!

How to Cook Quinoa + Recipes

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS NEWEST POWER-GRAIN ON THE MARKET YET?

I had heard of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAA) in all the "health food" circles, but had never tried it for myself.  Now, though, I've tried it several different ways, and I LOVE the simplicity of this grain, the numerous and incredible benefits all packed into one tiny seed, and the variety I can use in preparing it! 

Turns out, this tasty super food isn't new at all, as it was enjoyed by the Incas in ancient times, and other native South Americans, where they dubbed it the "mother of all grains!"

One of the reasons I held off in trying quinoa was because of all the fuss in the foodie circles about the "high cost" of it compared to rice and other more common household grains.  I've got a solution for that, too!  With some careful planning and watching, I get quinoa at the neighborhood health food markets for as little as $3 a pound.  You just have to watch for it to go on sale and buy more of it then.  It is usually cheaper sold in bulk, instead of prepackaged.

(Update: Costco is a great place to get it at a lower price in bulk as well!)

HERE'S HOW TO MAKE IT:

Prepare quinoa by boiling 1/2 cup of the grains with 3/4 to 1 cup of water or broth (for extra flavor!)  It only takes about 12 minutes, with the pot covered, and at a soft boil, for the grain to be completely cooked. 

It stays a wonderful slightly crunchy-chewy consistency for even up to a few days after cooking!  I try to cook enough for another meal or two after the first one where I serve it fresh.  It is so tasty leftover, added to a fresh salad as a protein-rich topper.  (One of the top benefits of this grain is the high amount of lean protein found in it - 8 grams in a cup of it!)

Here are two ideas for quinoa recipes you can try for your own family:

ORANGE & ALMOND QUINOA RECIPE

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Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 fresh orange (peeled, separated into bite size sections)
handful toasted, sliced almonds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
garnish - sliced green onions

Instructions

Cook quinoa and fluff. Add almonds, orange sections, salt & pepper. Toss together. Squeeze 1/4 cup fresh orange juice over and toss again to coat.

CILANTRO LEMON QUINOA RECIPE

Ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 fresh lemon
handful toasted pine nuts
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions

Cook quinoa and fluff. Squeeze lemon juice over grain, and stir in pine nuts and cilantro. Toss together with sprinkling of salt and pepper to taste.

These dishes make a wonderful side to fish, chicken or as a vegetarian main dish with steamed or sauteed vegetables on the side.

HERE ARE A FEW MORE RECIPES WE THINK YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

One-Pot Summer Salmon Dinner

Asian-Inspired Grilled Chicken Thighs

Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Quinoa makes such a great part of a healthy (and easy!) dinner meal plan for the week, so use this make-ahead recipe often as a great grain for family meals. To help you create the meal plan a little easier, download these totally free printables from us! Let us know what's on your meal plan this week in the comments below.

Fresh Bean Relish

This FRESH Bean Relish is easy, Delish, and full of natural fiber! 

Our family enjoys this quick dish often with grilled chicken or as a side to fish. 

Hint: It turns out best with all the ingredients rinsed and completely drained, and then refrigerated overnight.  It’s one of those dishes that just gets better with time!

This recipe has helped our family eat more beans, which are rich in fiber and other nutrients for the body.  I personally have never enjoyed beans, but this dish has a way of hiding the “bean taste” in the goodness of the overall dish, and I have enjoyed it often now.

Here’s the recipe:

Fresh Bean Relish

Ingredients

•    1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas
•    1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
•    1½ cups frozen sweet corn, thawed & drained
•    1/2 cup chopped onion
•    1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
•    1 (4 ounce) can mild green chiles
•    1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
•    1 cup Italian-style salad dressing
•    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

1.    In a medium bowl, combine black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, onion, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers and tomatoes.

2.    Season with Italian-style salad dressing and garlic powder - mix well.

3.    Cover and refrigerate overnight to blend flavors.

If you prefer fresh tomatoes, substitute 1 3/4 cup for the canned diced tomatoes.  For a spicier relish, switch out the mild green chiles for jalapeno peppers, either fresh diced or canned!

Sweet Corn Salsa

This summery salsa is delicious, combining both the sweet bite of the corn and the tangy goodness of the red onion.  It is a simple salsa to serve over fish or alongside a grilled dinner entree.  

Sweet Corn Salsa 

Ingredients

•    1 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
•    1/4 medium red onion
•    1/4 cup chopped cilantro
•    1/2 pint yellow cherry tomatoes (about 3/4 cup)
•    1/2 small jalapeno, finely diced - (Add only if you like heat in your salsa!)
•    1-2 key limes (to taste)

Instructions

1.    Roast sweet corn over medium-high heat in a small fry pan for about 2 minutes, turning often to prevent burning.  (Use teaspoon butter or olive oil to keep from burning.)  Pull corn off the heat and let cool.  
2.    Chop red onion into thin, short slices, adding it to the corn.  Stir in the cilantro, and halve the cherry tomatoes, adding them in to the mix.  Squeeze the lime onto the salsa, then sprinkle sea salt, cracked ground pepper, and a tablespoon olive oil into mix, stir together.  
3.    The natural crunchy sweetness of the corn and tangy addition of the tomatoes and red onion mix beautifully to make a great summer salsa!

Warning:  May be slightly addictive to your family, and you’ll have to make another batch!

Super Simple Tabouleh Recipe

Since sharing this super simple tabouleh, an easy Mediterranean diet staple, with our Fresh Start Coaching Team at our Fall ReFRESHed Conference, there have been tons of requests for this recipe! In fact, several of our coaches were very surprised at how simple this dish is AND how totally delicious it is as a great left-over snack.

Enjoy it with seed crackers or cucumber slices, on sweet potato chips or with warm Naan or Pita bread. It’s a perfect vegan super-fresh protein main dish if you just double the quinoa! This is also a great go-to dish to take to potlucks and get-togethers too. This Tabouleh dish is ALWAYS wiped clean at any gathering!

Super Simple Tabouleh

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch parsley

  • 1/3 Sweet Onion

  • 1-2 Small Tomatoes

  • Olive Oil

  • Onion Powder

  • Garlic Powder

  • 1 FRESH Lemon

  • 1/2 -1 cup Cooked Quinoa (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Chop the parsley fine, dice sweet onions and tomatoes, and stir them all together in medium bowl.

  2. Drizzle olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon) into mix and add a good sprinkle of the seasonings.

  3. Squeeze the lemon juice into the mix, add in the cooked quinoa and stir it all together.

  4. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least a couple hours (even overnight is fine!) to allow the flavorings to blend.

  5. Serve with seed crackers, feta cheese and olives for a Mediterranean FRESH snack!

We would LOVE to hear how you like this healthy snack too, so stop by our Facebook Page and let us know what you think of this Super Simple Tabouleh recipe!

What do you love to serve with your Tabouleh? Our favorites are seed crackers and cucumbers but we are always looking for fresh new ideas!