Spotlight on Savory Side Dishes

Healthnotes Newswire (November 19, 2009)—When you’re hosting your family feasts this fall, let’s not forget the important supporting role of the side dish. Whether you’re the traditionalist who returns to time-tested favorites or a curious gourmet who can’t resist a new recipe, throw in a new twist: nuts. Infuse this year’s side dishes with inspiration from the nutritional powerhouse, and in return you’ll get texture, crunch, flavor, and color—not to mention generous amounts of protein, unsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and other nutrients.

Brussels sprouts with pistachios

Surprise Brussels sprouts skeptics with this simple yet surprisingly tasty dish:

• Trim bottoms of sprouts and peel off outer layers and slice into quarters.

• Add sprouts to a pot of boiling, lightly salted water; cook for 3 to 5 minutes.

• Drain, and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, pepper, and a generous handful of salted pistachio nuts.

Green beans and slivered almonds

Simple steamed beans or the classic green bean casserole will stand out with a delicate dappling of slivered almonds:

• Steam green beans (ends chopped off) until tender but not mushy.

• Drain and toss with olive oil and minced fresh tarragon. Sprinkle toasted almond slivers atop.

• If a creamy green bean casserole is more your family’s style, simply scatter almonds over the top before popping casserole in the oven.

Sautéed chard with raisins and pine nuts

Bitter chard, pungent garlic, sweet raisins, and smooth pine nuts serve as a counterpoint to the more mellow flavors of turkey and potatoes:

• Heat olive oil and chopped garlic in a frying pan over medium heat. Add chard and sauté until tender (about 5 minutes).

• Add raisins and pine nuts, and this dish is ready to join the others at your burgeoning table.

Sweet potatoes and cranberry relish with walnuts

These two traditional favorites call out for the delightful crunch of the hearty walnut:

• Whether you’re roasting or boiling your sweet potatoes, mashing or whipping them, and regardless of whether or not you’re a marshmallow fan, all manifestations of the beloved sweet potato beautifully complement the walnut. Layer toasted walnuts on top of any sweet potato creation.

• Cranberry sauce or relish, chutney, and jam also serve as an ideal vehicle for the sturdy walnut. Chop toasted nuts finely and sprinkle liberally over tops of tangy condiments.

Kathleen Finn is a writer and marketing consultant for The Natural Word. She specializes in natural health, food, and fitness material, and has worked on staff at Delicious! Magazine and written for Yoga Journal, Spa Magazine, Natural Foods Merchandiser, and Nutrition Science News. She holds a master's degree in Journalism from University of Colorado in Boulder.

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