18+ Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes
Looking for healthy vegetable side dishes that are super tasty too? From simple roasted vegetables for a weeknight dinner to a fancier holiday side dish or a killer mashed potatoes, the gangs all here so you’re sure to find a new fave. All of these easy vegetable side dish recipes are vegan and gluten free too.
Coming from a euro-centric background, it was always protein-starch-veg on the plate. Usually a simple salad or some peas or something. If this was you too, you can be forgiven for thinking that the vegetables are not the most exciting part of a plate…but you’d be wrong! These healthy vegetable side dishes will show you that veggies pack all the flavour and excitement you can think of – and they just might become your favourite part of your plate!
What does a healthy meal look like?
As a dietitian, a lot of folks ask me what it actually means to eat a healthy meal and it’s one of my favourite questions because it has A) a very simple answer and B) it is the perfect example of just how complicated health actually is.
Let’s start with the first (simple answer) shall we?
A healthy meal follows a simple formula:
- half your plate is covered in fruits and vegetables
- one quarter of your plate has a protein (peep these awesome plant-based proteins)
- one quarter of your plate has a whole grain or starchy vegetable like potatoes with their skin
- plus, add a dash of healthy fat to the cooking or as an add on, like omega 3-rich seeds
I love this guideline because it is endlessly adaptable: making a soup? double the veg in a recipe if it isn’t already veggie-full, and have some sprouted grain toast on the side! Stir-fry? Easy! Want to make a plant-based salad more filling? Don’t forget the roasted chickpeas! If you’re looking to explore more vegetable-forward cooking, be sure to pick up a copy of my bestselling cookbook, Eat More Plants.
Next up, what the heck does healthy diet look like?
The second part of this conversation goes a wee bit deeper. Because, no dietitian would ever expect you to rigidly hold onto some food rule. For example, sometimes, I just want a big ol’ bowl of pasta alfredo and don’t make a salad. And that’s okay…because your overall dietary pattern matters WAY more than what you put on a single plate.
Which means, if most of the time, you follow the plate formula, then if once in a while dinner is popcorn and wine, whatever. Or if you want an ice cream, no problem. Foods that aren’t as nutrient-dense still fit in a healthy diet.
We get sold all sorts of fear mongering nutrition ideas, such as the ludicrous notion that lectins in plant foods cause disease. Or, that a single cookie will cause inflammation because it has sugar. Your body is SO much more resilient than that. Aside from actually allergy or intolerance, in a generally healthy body as long as you provide the nourishment your cells need to thrive, your body can more than handle the occasional dessert, beer or big bowl of ramen.
TLDR: not everything you eat has to be ‘healthy’ for YOU to be healthy. Got it?
All the Healthy Vegetable Sides You Could Ever Need!
Whether its a weeknight, a special family meal or a potluck, I think veggies are always the star of the show!
Stovetop Vegetable Sides
- Creamy Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes No more boring spuds! These mashed potatoes are loaded with garlic, and a secret gut-healthy ingredient that makes them extra creamy, without the cream!
- Corn Palak (Curried Corn and Greens) by Vegan Richa. This richly spiced dish will make a greens lover out of anyone!
- Sautéed Zucchini with Basil by Lindsay Pleskot This Italian-inspired recipe is quick, fresh and flavourful!
- Garlicky Sauteed Kale from A Couple Cooks Greens + garlic are a match made in heaven!
- Easy sautéed asparagus from A Couple Cooks Tender asparagus in just 5 minutes, without turning on the oven!
Baked and Roasted Vegetable Sides
- Gluten Free Vegan Stuffing Recipe for the Holidays Not a fan of bread-based stuffings? I got you! This ‘stuffing’ is actually a ton of stuffing-flavoured roasted veggies that is a big hit with the entire family.
- Cumin Roasted Acorn Squash with Hemp Chile Crumble Add a bit of crunch (and a boost of omega 3s!) to sweet roasted squash with this hemp seed-spiked crumble.
- Togarashi Roasted Broccoli with Miso Cashew Dip Thin out the miso cashew dip with a bit of extra water and drizzle over this addictive roasted broccoli for a flavourful spin on the usual roasted broccoli.
- Roast this: Brussels with Almond Parm Brussels are probably my favourite veggie. I can’t get enough! But, you might want to make extra almond parm because you’ll want to sprinkle it on EVERYTHING.
- Crispy Asparagus Fries so good…you might eat them all! I’ll apologize in advance for this one. It takes a bit of time to make and no time to eat…they are that good!
- Roasted Beet + Fennel with Orange Vinaigrette by Walder Wellness Swap maple for honey and you have a vibrant and flavourful side using one of my fave unsung veggies, fennel.
Salads and Slaws
- Healthy Vegan Broccoli Salad My take on a classic broccoli salad that the whole family will love!
- Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Roasted Buckwheat and Creamy Ginger Cashew Dressing Crunchy, creamy and just a hint of sweetness, this salad is a riot of flavour and texture and it’s really easy to make!
- Harissa Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Spinach Fiery harissa and sweet potatoes make a perfect pairing to liven up a spinach salad.
- Summer Zoodles with Raw Sungold Tomato Sauce this salad makes good use of summer-perfect produce for a light and fresh side.
18+ Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes: Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash
- 1 pound cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1½ pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, skin on
- ½ teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- ¼ cup vegan butter
- ¼ – ⅓ cup unsweetened cashew, oat or almond milk
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 425° F (220° C) and prepare a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment.
- In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, sweet potato and garlic with oil, salt and pepper and pour onto cookie sheet. Tuck garlic between other veggies so it's less likely to burn.
- Roast for 20 minutes, check that garlic isn't burning and roast for 10 minutes more. Garlic should be soft, the cauliflower starting to brown and everything fork tender. Carefully set garlic aside.
- Add roasted vegetables to a food processor, squeeze garlic out of its skin and add to food processor along with butter, sage and maple syrup. Puree until well blended, then, start drizzling in cashew milk to achieve desired consistency. I added just over 1/4 cup (60 mL) to create a smooth texture.
- Taste, and adjust salt or maple syrup if necessary.