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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

30 Healthy Side Dishes to Amp Up Mealtime

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These 30 healthy side dishes are SO good, you don’t even need a main course! A selection of unique salads, spiced vegetables, a variety of potato dishes, light soups, and even Thanksgiving classics! You’re sure to find all your favorites and more!

30 healthy side dishes collage - soups salads and more

I have a confession…I’m crazy about side dishes! I love them so much, I could easily make a meal out of them. Give me a few healthy side dishes and I’m good to go.

No main course necessary!

If you do it right, you can heave a well balanced meal made up of side dishes only!

While I know most people prefer their side dishes to come alongside a main course, these side dishes could truly stand alone.

But they also make an excellent accompaniment to any main dish you have planned.

They are full of flavor, spices, and big on vitamins, and nutrients. But they are also low in calories and fat, while using all natural whole food ingredients.

You can feel good about preparing these side dishes for your family, and I promise they will take your dinner to a whole new level!

steamed asparagus with pecorino, served on a white plate

What Are Healthy Side Dishes To Eat?

When it comes to creating healthy side dishes, vegetables are the way to go! It’s a great way to get more veggies into your daily diet, and they are light enough that they won’t fill you up, leaving you with enough room for the main course.

Roasted Vegetables

A classic side dish, roasted vegetables are easy and delicious! The key to making roasted vegetables healthy is not to add too much oil. You can also dry roast your vegetables if you are oil free. Add your favorite spices, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at high heat. I recommend 400-425 F.

healthy mashed potatoes in a blue bowl against a blue and green cloth


Potatoes often get a bad rep, but they are actually a very healthy starch! The problem with potatoes comes from eating too much, and loading them up with high calorie and high fat extras! Making healthy potato side dishes is easy.

The key is to make some healthy swaps for those extras. Instead of sour cream, use plain yogurt. Instead of butter, add a small amount of olive oil. Load up on fresh herbs to add extra flavor!

feta salad with lentils, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn in a bowl - healthy side dishes

Light Salads

A light salad that is loaded with veggies is an excellent side dish to pair with your main dishes.

Depending on what you are serving as your entree, you can customize your salad to compliment it.

For example, if you are having mediterranean flavors, opt for a Greek salad. Or if you’re preparing an Italian dish, try a simple arugula salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.

The way to make your salads healthier is to use a light amount of dressing. Use vinaigrettes, or creamy dressings that use yogurt instead of high fat cream.

Keep the cheese light. Most of the calories and fat from salads come from the dressing and added cheese.

Instead, add more fresh vegetables, capers, or olives to add flavor without adding the extra calories.

For a bit of added crunch, add a few tablespoons of raw chopped nuts!

moroccan chickpea soup served in a white bowl with cilantro garnish - healthy side dishes

Light Soups

Soups can be a meal in and of themselves, but if you’re looking for a healthy side dish, a light soup is just the thing!

When making soup for the purpose of serving alongside a main dish, I opt for bisques, or vegetable soups.

Bisques are smooth and creamy, but when done right, very healthy too! You don’t need to add a lot of extra cream. Instead, swap in light coconut milk for a nutrient rich option.

Be sure to add a lot of spices, and naturally smooth vegetables like sweet potatoes or squash.

Use your immersion blender to blend all the vegetables together to create a smooth and creamy soup without the extras!

cheese, yogurt and dairy

How Do You Reduce The Fat And Calories In Side Dishes?

Use Less Fat: Fat can come in the form of butter, oil, or heavy creams or milks. To reduce the fat use less oil, reduce the amount of butter, or choose lightened up versions of ingredients as a substitute for high fat cream based condiments. Using plain yogurt, or light coconut milk is a good way to reduce calories and fat, while still enjoying the creaminess of a dish.

Reduce the Extras: Adding high calorie and high fat extras can take a healthy dish and suddenly make it a high caloric wasteland. Reduce the amount of cheese added to your side dishes, and opt for lower calorie lower fat cheeses that are still big on flavor. Feta cheese adds tons of flavor, and is one of the lower fat cheeses available.

Don’t Add Sugar: Some side dishes add extra sugar in the form of brown sugar, maple syrup, or even white sugar. For example, sweet potato casserole, or salad dressings. These added sugars are high in calories, and have no nutritional benefit. Skip the added sugar to maximize the health benefits of your side dishes.

collage of healthy side dishes

What Are The Most Popular Side Dishes?

Mashed or Baked Potatoes: It is no surprise that potatoes are one of the most popular favorite side dishes! Potatoes can take on so many different forms, whether it’s mashed, baked, or fried. Use my tips to make healthy potato recipes, and scroll down to the recipe section for my top 6 favorite healthy potato recipes!

Green Bean Casserole: You either love it or hate it, but there’s no doubt that green bean casserole is a classic side dish. It can be rather unhealthy with processed mushroom soup, and fried onions, but it’s possible to make a healthy version using whole food ingredients!

Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables have taken over as one of the most ubiquitous side dishes. This versatile side dish is so simple, quick and flavorful, it’s no surprise that this side dish is loved by all! Choose your favorite vegetable, add a touch of oil, salt, and pepper, and you have a side dish in minutes!

arugula and tomato salad

What Type Of Side Dish Is Good To Bring To A Dinner Party?

The best type of side dish to bring to a dinner party is one that travels well. Depending on whether you have the ability to heat your side dish at the dinner party, you may want to opt for something that can be enjoyed at room temperature.

Green salads, pasta salads, potato salads, and dips are all excellent choices.

If you have the option to warm your side dish, or bring it in a crockpot, then flavorful veggies are always appreciated. I suggest sabji! These are Indian spiced mixed vegetables that can easily be transferred to a crockpot to keep warm.

What Are The Best Make Ahead Healthy Side Dishes?

Soups are my go-to make ahead side dish, because they actually taste even better the next day once all of the flavors have a chance to blend together! They are also really easy to store (in an airtight container in the fridge), and easy to reheat (stovetop or microwave!)

Salads can also be a great option for a make ahead side dish, but the key here is to keep the ingredients separate before serving. For example, you can chop all your veggies and toss them together ahead of time but I would recommend keeping your salad dressing separate, and any extras (cheese, nuts, etc.) separately as well to keep your salad from getting soggy. Right before serving, toss everything together.

Healthy Side Dishes: Salads

These healthy salad recipes aren’t your boring garden salad! With healthy plant protein, light and flavorful dressings, and original toppings, these salads are hearty enough to make a meal, but excellent to share as a side dish alongside your main course.

feta salad with lentils, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn in a bowl
Simple and Fast Lentil and Feta Salad
This simple and quick Lentil and Feta Salad is made with cucumbers, juicy grape tomatoes, red onion, corn, and bell pepper for a high protein, nutrient-packed salad hearty enough to make a meal!
View this recipe
recipe for grape salad with avocado and cojita cheese in a white bowl
Easy Recipe for Grape Salad
This refreshing recipe for grape salad brings sweet and savory together to create the perfect side dish! With a bit of added kick from the addition of jalapeño peppers and creaminess from the avocado and cojita cheese, the sweetness of the grapes are nicely balanced.
View this recipe
superfood salad served in a white bowl with broccoli, blueberries, sweet Fuji apples, cabbage, spinach, dried cherries, pine nuts, and a healthy ranch dressing
Superfood Salad with Healthy Ranch Dressing
This Superfood Salad is going to be your new favorite dish! It’s filled with broccoli, blueberries, sweet Fuji apples, cabbage, spinach, dried cherries, pine nuts, and a healthy, homemade ranch dressing. Ready in just 15 minutes, it's the perfect healthy lunch or light dinner!
View this recipe
Spinach and Arugula Salad with Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
This salad is bright, light, and peppery – the perfect summer salad! Pair it with any entree for an easy and healthy dinner.
View this recipe
tomato avocado cucumber salad in a white bowl
Tomato Avocado Cucumber Salad
This tomato avocado cucumber salad recipe is super simple. It’s full of fresh veggies, summer tomatoes, chickpeas, feta and spices. No cooking required: just chop your veggies, toss and serve.
View this recipe
Apple Walnut Salad with Dates and Brie
If you love fall flavors, then you will absolutely adore this apple walnut salad with dates and brie. Crispy mixed greens are tossed with tart Granny Smith Apples, creamy brie, crunchy walnuts and a tangy apple cider vinaigrette for the perfect side dish or light lunch! Ready in just 15 minutes, delicious and healthy too!
View this recipe
healthy greek salad
Keto Greek Salad with Feta
This refreshing Keto Greek Salad is the perfect side dish for a potluck or picnic, but it can also be eaten as an entree for a light lunch or dinner!
View this recipe

Healthy Side Dishes: Vegetables

Crispy brussels sprouts, cheesy zucchini chips, steamed asparagus, and roasted cauliflower, these healthy vegetables side dishes come together in no time! They’ll quickly disappear without any leftovers, as your family loads up on their veggies.

air fryer brussel sprouts served on a white plate, top view
Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts in 10 MInutes
Crispy Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts are lightly seasoned and use a minimal amount of oil to create a healthy and delicious side dish, or snack!
View this recipe
baked and crispy courgette chips with parmesan, stacked on an oven rack
Baked Courgette Chips with Parmesan
Crispy and cheesy oven baked courgette chips are a healthy alternative to fries or potato chips.
View this recipe
steamed asparagus with pecorino, served on a white plate
Cheesy Baked Asparagus
Cheesy Baked Asparagus with mozzarella and parmesan is an amazing dish that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or a side dish. Quick, easy and full of freshness and flavor.
View this recipe
roasted cauliflower salad with spinach and chickpeas and kalamata olives, served on a white plate
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Spinach and Chickpeas
This recipe makes cauliflower the star, roasted to perfection and tossed with a warm dressing, along with some chickpeas for protein, spinach for some greens, and kalamata olives for a nice tangy bite.
View this recipe
cauliflower sabji in a stainless steel bowl with rice
Cauliflower Sabji with Peas and Carrots
Cauliflower Sabji is an Indian vegetable side dish spiced with curry flavors. It's simple to make, and full of flavor. An excellent way to get a healthy serving of vegetables into your daily diet!
View this recipe
indian vegetables served in a stainless steel pot with naan and rice on the side
Indian Vegetables: Quick and Healthy Vegetable Sabji
Indian Vegetables or Vegetable Sabji is best described as sautéd veggies with roasted Indian spices to amp up the flavor. It's a delicious side dish, or can be a main meal when served with roti, daal, or spiced yogurt for protein!
View this recipe
Indian Style Asparagus with Lemon and Cumin
Traditionally, vegetables like potatoes, cauliflower, peas, spinach, squashes, cabbage, etc. are used in Indian cooking. Since those spices make the traditional Indian “sabji” vegetables taste amazing, why not asparagus?
View this recipe
roasted cauliflower curry with sweet potatoes topped with cilantro, served on a white plate with a fork
Sweet Potato Cauliflower Curry
This Sweet Potato Cauliflower Curry is perfectly seasoned with Indian spices. It makes for a wonderful main dish served over rice, or as a side dish paired with a hearty stew or salad. It's healthy, vegan and gluten-free too!
View this recipe
gluten free cheesy polenta topped with zucchini, corn and herbs, served on a white plate
Gluten Free Cheesy Polenta with Squash and Herbs
This gluten free polenta recipe allows you to enjoy creamy and cheesy polenta without any of the guilt! Served with squash, corn and fresh herbs, this dish is easy, fresh, tasty and full of flavor.
View this recipe

Healthy Side Dishes: Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a potato side dish? With so many different ways you can cook them, potatoes are healthy and nutritious too, that is if they’re not loaded with oil, cream, and butter! These healthy potato side dishes have everything you love about potatoes with fewer calories, but all the flavor!

vegan mashed potatoes in a blue bowl against a blue and green cloth
Healthy Mashed Potatoes (Vegan Friendly)
This Healthy Mashed Potatoes Recipe is the ULTIMATE comfort food! Russet potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, and fresh herbs come together for a creamy, rich, dairy-free, vegan mashed potatoes that is the perfect side dish any time of the year!
View this recipe
air fried sweet potato fries in a yellow basket
Air Fried Sweet Potato Fries
These Air Fried Sweet Potato Fries are spicy, crispy, and bake up to a perfect golden brown. Easy and quick they're a healthy alternative to traditional fries!
View this recipe
The Perfect Healthy Potato Salad in a white bowl topped with sliced green onions
The Perfect Healthy Potato Salad
This healthy potato salad is a classic side dish for for a summer party or barbecue. Check out how to make this traditional, creamy potato dish a little healthier with a few tricks. You won't know the difference!
View this recipe
Vegan Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary
Crispy-on-the-outside and creamy-on-the-inside, this is the perfect side dish for breakfast or dinner!
View this recipe
mashed potato fritters with onions and kale, served on a white plate, top view
Mashed Potato Fritters with Kale and Onions
These mashed potato fritters are perfect to use up things in the fridge. I also love that they fit as a snack, appetizer, or meal.
View this recipe
healthy easy vegan sweet potato casserole recipe in a white baking dish
Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
Enjoy this Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole any time of year! It is sweet, filled with plump golden raisins, maple syrup, crunchy pecans, and fall spices. Complete your holiday dinner or add it as a side to your supper. 
View this recipe

Healthy Side Dishes: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time to enjoy these traditional side dishes! You don’t have to wait a whole year to dig into this easy stuffing, low-sugar cranberry sauce, or fluffy sweet potato biscuits!

gluten free stuffing in a baking dish
Gluten Free Stuffing
This healthy and vegan friendly gluten-free stuffing can be enjoyed by all! With celery, mushrooms, and onions in a savory broth overtop a gluten-free bread, this stuffing bakes up light, and fluffy!
View this recipe
healthy cranberry sauce topped with orange zest served in a glass bowl
Healthy Cranberry Sauce
Sweet and tangy healthy cranberry sauce made with no refined sugar, fresh cranberries, and a hint of orange will be the star of your holiday meal!
View this recipe
low calorie healthy biscuits made with sweet potato, stacked against a yellow and white background
Low Calorie, Healthy Biscuits
These biscuits use secret ingredients to keep them light and layered with the traditional flavor, but not all the fat.
View this recipe

Healthy Side Dishes: Light Soups

A light soup is an excellent addition to your main course. These soup recipes aren’t too heavy, leaving plenty of room for your main course. From creamy bisques to cool gazpacho, you’re going to want to make your way through this list one by one!

spicy sweet potato soup served in a white bowl, topped with crushed nuts and cilantro top view
Spicy Sweet Potato Soup
While this sweet potato soup is definitely decadent and filling, you will find no cream, fat or butter in this recipe.
View this recipe
Italian Chickpea Soup with Tomatoes and Rosemary
This easy Italian Chickpea Soup is healthy, nutritious, comforting and easy to make. It can be made on the stove top or in your Instant Pot (or slow cooker).
View this recipe
acorn squash bisque served in a white bowl with fresh herbs on top, top view
Acorn Squash Bisque
Creamy Acorn Squash Bisque gets a healthy makeover with nonfat Greek yogurt. Paired with pomegranate and cranberries this soup is full of fall flavors.
View this recipe
asparagus and leek soup with herbed goat cheese served in a white bowl
Leek Asparagus Soup with Goat Cheese
This asparagus and leek soup is made from scratch without cream or milk for a lightened up and healthy meal. It takes just 30 minutes to make and is perfect for the whole family to enjoy!
View this recipe
cucumber gazpacho served in a white bowl, garnished with cucumber slices
Cucumber Gazpacho
This cucumber gazpacho is light, refreshing, and so easy to make! With a combination of cucumber, honeydew, and fresh mint it’s cool, slightly sweet, gluten-free, vegan, and makes for the perfect appetizer or simple side!
View this recipe

I hope you were able to find some healthy side dishes for your next meal. These family friendly, picky eater approved recipes, are simple, easy, and big on flavor!

Check Out These Other Healthy Recipe Round-Ups!

If you have tried these healthy side dish recipes or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM, and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

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Side Dishes ·

These side dishes are tasty enough to be the star of the show!

Try my asparagus crostinis for the perfect accompaniment to your main entree, or double the recipe to turn them into an entire meal.

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