Does anybody have a favorite side dish? I'm doing Medifast, but I get one 'lean and green' meal every day. I seem to eat the same thing day after day - chicken and broccoli, or chicken on a salad, or chicken and green beans. I'm just at a loss! I used to cook with a lot of cheese and olive oil. I just go blank when I'm on a diet. I'd love something Mediterranean style. So many of the recipes I find on the net also have pasta and grains, which I can't have. I can handle the meat part if I could come up with more creative veggie ideas. Oh - I need low starch vegetables. I am not allowed potatoes, and am supposed to take it easy with higher carb veggies in general.
Thank you so much!
07-15-2007, 01:14 PM
Roasted or grilled vegetables to the rescue!
I love to take a big metal pan and roast vegetables - 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees (check/stir a few times). I like: garlic, onions, carrots, green beans (or chickpeas), beets, tomatoes, red pepper, small sweet potato (very small cubes so they cook fast enough - sweet potatoes are crazy nutritious, I don't understand any diet that limits them!!!).
I usually spray the pan with pan and add a small drizzle of olive oil on top (then shake the pan vigorously). I don't usually add a lot of spices becuase I tend to use the vegetables for all sorts of things (side dishes, omelet fillings, quesadillas, stir fries, over couscous as a main dish, etc) so I like the vegetables neutral until I prepare my specific dish!
07-15-2007, 02:24 PM
Glory - do you put canned chickpeas? I'm still trying to get this veggie roasting thing down.
07-15-2007, 04:08 PM
Yep, I just drain them!
07-15-2007, 06:42 PM
You can roast just about anything, though the timing sometimes varies, so if I'm roasting a new veggie, I roast it alone to see how long it takes to get to the perfect doneness for me. And start testing the doneness every 5 - 10 minutes begining at 15 minutes. Then the next time I'll add it to other veggies that take about the same time. To me, there seems to be at least three levels of doneness in roasting. "Crisp tender with little or no carmelization," "tender to the center with nice carmelized edges," and "really soft with a mostly carmelized outside (sometimes this ends up with a few of the smallest bits a little burned, but gives some veggies a wonderful, almost barbecued taste). I like different vegetables at different stages.
To me, onions are good at all stages, but potatoes I like carrots and potatoes at stage II or III, and zucchini and eggplant (thin oriental eggplants only, not the big italian kind) I like best at stage III. Green beans and other small, thin veggies are great at stage II, but are difficult to get to stage III without burning (though if you can manage it, they're really yummy).
If the veggie is real sturdy (like potatoes), I will roast it at 450, but if it's a tender veggie or one I haven't roasted before, I generally roast it at 425.
My procedure is the same for everything. Shake veggies in a ziploc bag with a very small amount of oil, and any seasonings I like (ranch dressing powder is my old standby, but sometimes I use seasoning salt, garlic salt and pepper, or a package of taco or other seasoning mix). If I don't use a prepackaged seasoning packet or premixed seasoning blend, I blend the seasonings in a separate container, because if I just add the seasonings to the bag on top of the oil moistened veggies, they sometimes don't distribute evenly.
Then I pour out the veggies into a baking pan (I use glass lined in aluminum foil, for even cooking and easy cleanup), and into the preheated oven, anywhere between 400 - 450 degrees.
07-15-2007, 06:44 PM
oops, I meant I roast very small, or very tender veggies (or veggies I haven't roasted before) at 400 not 425. The next time I might try roasting then at 425.
07-15-2007, 10:32 PM
Glory and Colleen -- Thanks for the great info and ideas!
07-18-2007, 12:21 AM
I grill a lot of veggies outside or with a cast iron grill pan on the stove. Onions, peppers, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, eggplant, are all really good that way. I also "sort of" stir fry things. Instead of heating oil in a pan, I heat some water until it's really hot, add onions and garlic and cook until they're getting soft, then add the other veggies and flavoring (like soy sauce or lemon juice), and cook until they're tender crisp.
I also like gazpacho during the summer (I just don't add the oil) or a clear veggie soup for side dishes or first courses.
07-18-2007, 08:13 PM
Thanks for all of the ideas! Roasted veggies would definitely be a nice change. I didn't know I could roast them on foil. :dizzy: I guess I thought they'd stick and make a mess. That would be much easier. Thanks!
07-18-2007, 08:45 PM
I don't use foil and they don't make any mess at all!
07-18-2007, 11:50 PM
I always use foil for Stage III roasting (as described above). Stage I and II are much easier to clean up, but I nearly ruined a pan with Stage III potato roasting. The potatoes tasted great, they weren't burnt at all, but there were little rings burnt into the bottom of the pan, that took days of soaking and scrubbing to get out.
07-19-2007, 10:56 AM
You could try making some non-lettuce salads. I once had a "succotash" at a restaurant that was made of green beans, corn, and kind of a salsa. Green beans, thinly sliced tomatoes, and white wine vinegar and pepper make a nice mix, too. I also do sliced cucumbers and onions marinated in vinegar and seasoning, kind of like a refrigerator pickle. I also dice pickles, cucumbers, red onions and tomatoes to use as either a simple salad alone, or topping for a burger or sandwich. Or grill some thickly sliced veggies on a george foreman grill.
07-19-2007, 03:01 PM
Oh, and I've got a killer recipe for a Mexican bean salad. I don't remember the proportions (I'm at work) but basically it's several kinds of beans (kidney, pinto, garbonzo), a can of whole kernal corn, chopped onion and a small can of chopped chile peppers (how hot is up to you). The dressing is a vinegarette with some chili powder added. This goes over really well at a BBQ. The cookbook I got it from - Great American Diet, I think - suggests using it as a filling in a pita, but I've always just served it as a side dish. :)