One of the great joys of the holidays is sitting down to a wonderful home cooked meal with friends and family. This often entails a hearty serving of roast beef, ham, or turkey, served with all the tasty side dishes and a slathering of gravy. And of course, there are the desserts.

While generous portions of meat and carbs are a staple during the holidays, the general consensus amongst health care experts is that we all benefit from having vegetables in our diet, and the more the better. That is not to say that we can't enjoy a delicious serving of meat. It's just not a bad idea to balance it out with some vegetables while we're at it. Vegetarian side dishes are a great way to get this done.

1. Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kale

Ingredients

  • 3 large sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and diced into ½ cubes
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 2 medium onions, sliced

Method

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes and onions and generously drizzle with olive oil. Spread mixture onto a broiling pan, salt to taste, and set in shelf closest to heating element. Broil for 5 min, take out and mix with spatula and place back in oven. Repeat 2-3 times or until vegetables are tender and charred, but not overly burned. Place in a large bowl.

In a separate pan, saute kale in 2 t of olive oil until wilted and tender, about 5 min. Combine with potatoes mixture and serve.

2. Olive and Feta Cheese Wheatberry Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked wheatberries
  • ½ red onion, minced
  • ½ red pepper, chopped finely
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ chopped olives, Kalamata or Greek (can use canned if need be)
  • ½ lemon or lime - juice only, remove seeds
  • 2 T olive oil
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t oregano

Method

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and chill in fridge for one hour. Mix again before serving.

3. Broiled Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, about 1 lb
  • salt and olive oil

Method

Bend one stalk of asparagus until it snaps and use as a reference on where to chop the rest. Place cut asparagus on a broiling rack and generously drizzle with olive oil. Salt to taste. Place on rack closest to heating element and cook until vegetables are tender and charred but not burned, about 10 minutes (5 minutes, turn tray, 5 more minutes).

4. Warm Green Bean Salad With Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb washed green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 T high heat oil, canola or safflower
  • 1 t mustard seed
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ t turmeric
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
  • ¼ cup water
  • salt and fresh ground pepper

Method

Heat mustard seeds in oil until they begin to pop, making sure to cover the pan with lid. When popping stops, add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add turmeric and saute 30 seconds. Add potatoes and stir to coat, then cook 1 minute. Add beans and stir, then add ¼ cup water to prevent sticking. Lower heat to medium and cook until vegetables are tender, then increase heat until the water has evaporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Charred Brussels Sprouts With Caramelized Onions

Ingredients

  • 1½ to 2 lbs of Brussels sprouts (smaller the better)
  • 1 large onion, cut into thin slices
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Method

Rinse off sprouts and let drain. Slice sprouts in half lengthwise and place in large bowl with onions. Drizzle with olive oil and toss. Spread the vegetables in a broiling pan and distribute evenly so that there is a single layer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fire up the broiler and place shelf as high as possible. Broil vegetables for 3 minutes (or when they begin to char), then take out and mix with a spatula. Add salt again and broil 3 more minutes. Take out mix, then drizzle a bit more olive oil. Add salt and pepper and broil 3 more minutes. Repeat until sprouts are fork tender.

These recipes feed a family of four. For more information about the health benefits of vegetables, visit the website for Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

From all of us at Parenting Squad, we wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday.