When you find a recipe your family likes, it’s easy to make it your go-to — even if it’s not the healthiest. In Tennessee, dishes like fried okra and creamy potato salad are common, but it’s good to have a few healthier vegetable dishes in your rotation, too.
Here are 5 fresh veggie ideas for your family:
Sautéed okra and tomatoes
Many of us deep fry okra to counteract its slimy texture, but there are other ways to prepare it to balance that out. Try sautéing it with butter, garlic and tomatoes for a fresh side dish that’s great alone or served gumbo-style over whole grain rice. You can also grill okra on skewers and serve them with fun dipping sauces to get kids involved. Both are easy ways to add extra iron to your diet. (Sauteeing is a great technique to prepare many vegetables, including asparagus, broccoli, squash and zucchini.)
If you’re a tomato lover, all you need is salt and pepper to enjoy them at their peak. But for people — and especially kids — who haven’t come around on fresh tomatoes yet, try a caprese salad. Mozzarella is a good source of calcium and healthy fats, and the Italian flavors of the salad are reminiscent of pizza, which always helps. You can also use fresh tomatoes to make a simple pasta sauce that has less sodium than the jarred kind like St. Jude’s Chef Michael Vetro does.
Baked mashed cauliflower
Mashed potatoes and french fries are always crowd-pleasers, but they’re not the healthiest dish. Instead, try smashing and baking cauliflower. The simple preparation yields a crispy, creamy potato substitute that everyone can enjoy.
Zoodles — curly strips of zucchini made to look like noodles — are a great way to get your family to eat more veggies, but there’s an easier way if you don’t want to buy specialty kitchen equipment: Use your vegetable peeler. Shave zucchini and squash into ribbons, toss them with your favorite vinaigrette and add toppings like shaved cheese, nuts and fresh herbs. The result is a crunchy, tangy salad that’s full of vitamins A, C and B6. If you want to get the kids involved, take them to the farmers market and let them pick out different colors of squash when it’s at it peak in summer.
Peas and beans can be a hard sell for picky palates, but you’ll be amazed how that changes when you turn them into succotash. The word succotash comes from the Native American “sohquttahhash,” which means “broken corn kernels,” and the colorful dish commonly consists of fresh corn, onions, peppers and beans or peas. In Tennessee, lima beans and lady peas are great options, but feel free to get creative — succotash works with any small bean. Bonus: Because the dish contains both grains and legumes, it’s high in amino acids, and it’s typically better cold, so you can make a big batch and eat it all week.