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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

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
Easy Grape Salad
This refreshing recipe for grape salad brings sweet and savory together to create the perfect side dish! The sweet red grapes are well-balanced with the addition of jalapeno peppers, creamy avocado, and soft cotija cheese. It's vegetarian, gluten-free, and ready in just 20 minutes!
View this recipe
Copycat Chick-Fil-A kale salad served in a white salad bowl, garnished with almonds, top view.
Chick-Fil-A Kale Salad (Copycat Recipe!)
This copycat Chick-Fil-A kale salad recipe will quickly become one of your new favorite salads! It is made with a blend of kale and cabbage, and tossed in a homemade apple dijon vinaigrette for the perfect combination of tangy and sweet. If you are looking for healthy options for lunch or dinner, give this simple recipe a try! 
View this recipe
Spinach and arugula salad with tomatoes served in a dark grey salad bowl.
Spinach And Arugula Salad
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 quick, easy tomato avocado cucumber salad is a delicious blend of colorful, fresh veggies that will brighten up your dinner table. It’s vegetarian, gluten-free, and the perfect healthy side dish for a picnic, summer gatherings, potlucks with friends, or a quick weeknight dinner any time of the year! Plus, you'll only need 10 minutes of prep time to make it!
View this recipe
Apple walnut salad with cranberries, dates, and feta served on a white serving plate.
Apple Walnut Salad
If you love fall flavors, then you will absolutely adore this delicious apple walnut salad with dates and feta. Crisp mixed greens are tossed with tart Granny Smith apples, creamy feta, sweet cranberries, crunchy walnuts, and a tangy apple cider vinaigrette for the perfect side dish or light lunch! Ready in under 15 minutes!
View this recipe
Keto Greek salad with feta served in a white bowl.
Keto Greek Salad
This refreshing Keto Greek Salad is a healthy, low-carb version of a classic Greek salad, but tastes just as delicious as the traditional recipe! It's packed with fresh vegetables, salty olives, tangy feta cheese, and a zesty dressing that's vibrant and flavorful. This 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
easy cheesy baked asparagus recipe with mozzarella, parmesan and tomatoes in a white baking dish
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 Recipe
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 asparagus stir fry served in a stainless steel bowl on a white countertop.
Indian Asparagus Stir Fry
This Indian asparagus stir fry is a simple, flavorful dish that brings a unique twist to typical asparagus recipes! Fresh asparagus, ginger, and cumin seeds are sautéed to perfection in olive oil and finished with a splash of lemon juice for a tangy kick. This asparagus sabji is gluten-free, vegan, and ready in just 30 minutes.
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
Vegetable polenta with parmesan served in a white bowl garnished with fresh herbs.
Vegetable Polenta With Parmesan
Buttery, creamy vegetable polenta made with parmesan and savory roasted vegetables is a rich and elegant way to enjoy porridge for dinner. This simple healthy recipe is cozy, comforting, and satisfying for the whole family! Naturally gluten free, and easily made vegan too!
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!

Healthy mashed potatoes in a white bowl against a blue and white cloth.
Healthy Mashed Potatoes
This healthy mashed potatoes recipe is the ULTIMATE comfort food! Russet potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, and fresh herbs come together to make creamy, rich, dairy-free, vegan mashed potatoes that are 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
Healthy potato salad without eggs served on a white plate with a wooden spoon.
Healthy Potato Salad (Without Eggs)
This healthy potato salad recipe is creamy, delicious, and so easy to make! It requires minimal effort and simple ingredients, making it the perfect go-to recipe for summer BBQs, birthday parties, picnics, get togethers, and potlucks. It is naturally gluten free and can be easily made vegan too! 
View this recipe
Vegan roasted potatoes with rosemary in a white bowl.
Vegan Roasted Potatoes
These oven-baked, easy vegan roasted potatoes with rosemary are a tasty, delicious side dish. They're crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, packed with flavor and are the perfect accompaniment for any meal!
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 easy vegan sweet potato casserole during the holiday season or any time of year! It is perfectly sweet, filled with plump golden raisins, maple syrup, crunchy pecans, and fall spices. Complete your holiday dinner or add it as a side dish to any meal!
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!

Cornbread gluten free stuffing, served in a white casserole dish, garnished with fresh herbs.
Cornbread Gluten Free Stuffing
This healthy cornbread gluten free stuffing can be enjoyed by all! You’ll take homemade dried cornbread cubes and infuse them with a flavorful stuffing mixture made of dried herbs and sauteed veggies. It's a great recipe for the holiday season or anytime of year. Easily make this vegan, too!
View this recipe
Rich and delicious cranberry sauce made with dried cranberries in a small white dish.
Cranberry Sauce From Dried Cranberries
A simple 20 minute homemade cranberry sauce from dried cranberries with orange and spices for a quick sauce perfect for holiday meals.
View this recipe
Healthy Low Calorie Biscuits
This recipe for low calorie biscuits is super simple to make, packed with wholesome ingredients, and ready in just 20 minutes! Each biscuit has almost zero fat and only about 140 calories, which makes it the perfect addition to a healthy or low fat diet!
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!

Curried sweet potato soup served in a black bowl, topped with coconut cream, crostini, and cilantro.
Curried Sweet Potato Soup
This comforting curried sweet potato soup is rich, creamy, and decadent, featuring a delicious blend of hearty sweet potatoes, aromatic spices, and savory vegetable broth. It’s a warm, inviting dish that's perfect for those chilly evenings when you need a little extra comfort. The best part? This soup is vegan, plant based and healthy – it's a creamy sweet potato soup without any heavy cream, fat, or butter!
View this recipe
Three bowls of Italian Chickpea soup on the counter.
Italian Chickpea Soup
This simple Italian chickpea soup recipe with carrots, onion, spinach, and rosemary is healthy, nutritious, comforting, and easy to make. Low in calories, and can be made vegan, this gluten-free soup will be a hit with the whole family!
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
Healthy asparagus soup without cream served in a white bowl, garnished with asparagus spears and pumpkin seeds on a white background.
Vegan Asparagus Soup
This vegan asparagus soup is easy, healthy, and super rich and creamy – without needing any cream or milk! Enjoy this asparagus soup without cream for a light lunch, dinner, or side dish. It takes just 30 minutes to make this pureed soup and it's perfect for the whole family to enjoy!
View this recipe
Cucumber gazpacho topped with fresh herbs in a white bowl.
Cucumber Gazpacho
This cucumber gazpacho is light, refreshing, and so simple to make! Cooling cucumber, honeydew, tomato, and fresh mint come together to create a healthy soup that’s easy, quick, and both savory and slightly sweet! Serve it as an easy dinner, light lunch, or any time you have extra cucumbers to use up! This recipe is naturally gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free!
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!

10 responses to “30 Healthy Side Dishes to Amp Up Mealtime”

  1. Such a great roundup of recipes! Excited to give these a try with dinner this week; so many that look way to good to pass up!

  2. I love side dishes too. We’ll often have what my son calls buffet. Lots of bits and pieces with salad and hummus. Lots of ideas here.

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