Zucchini and Turnip Fritters

I love finding easy side dishes to replace the starch of potatoes, rice, or pasta. Here’s one that’s healthy as well as delicious that your family will love because it’s fried! The golden brown goodness of these fritters will get even your children to eat them. Feel free to change up the vegetables – I used zucchini, purple top turnip and carrots but one made with yellow squash, kohlrabi, and butternut squash would also work, or maybe you’d prefer zucchini, celery root, and parsnips. The seasonings can also be switched up – instead of garlic powder and coriander, how about dill, marjoram, basil, thyme, cumin or even some curry. Have fun with this one.

In the bowl of a food processor, place:

1 medium zucchini, cut into sections lengthwise and then quartered

1 medium purple top turnip, ends removed, peeled, and quartered*

8-10 baby carrots, rainbows make a pretty patty

Pulse until well grated. While the vegetables are grating heat over medium heat in a 12″ high-sided skillet:

about 1/4 inch of oil (I used a mixture of olive and avocado oil)

Pour the grated vegetables into a medium-sized bowl and add:

1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)

1/4 teaspoon coriander

2-4 green onions, chopped, both green and white sections

Stir to combine thoroughly. Scoop out portions using a 1/4 cup measure. Form into patties. Place in the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, flip and do the same on the other side. Remove and drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil, season with a little more salt. Serve immediately. Makes 2-4 servings depending on what else you’re serving with them and your family’s appetites!

*The purple top turnip has a very mild flavor while the yellow turnip (or rutabaga) is much stronger.

String Beans with Garlic Sauce

I used to love vegetables with garlic sauce. I’d order them, especially eggplant or green beans, whenever I went to an Asian restaurant. A friend recently saw a TikTok video showing how to make them and forwarded it to me. Of course, I had to change a few things to make it suitable to those of us with allergies but it’s a very simple, easy, quick recipe. Enjoy!

First, wash and cut the ends (both) off:

1 pound string beans, green, yellow, purple, doesn’t matter

Next, cut them in half and set aside. In a 12″ high sided skillet, heat over medium high heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When the oil is shimmering, add:

1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced garlic OR 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Reduce heat to medium and saute until just starting to brown. Add the string beans along with:

1/4 cup soy sauce substitute (see recipe under Sauces)

1/4 cup stock (vegetable, chicken, doesn’t matter unless you want to keep it vegan)

1 teaspoon sriracha (optional)

1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about 5 minutes until the string beans begin to get tender. If you like your string beans a little crunchy, cook them a little less and if you like them soft, cook them a little more. Remove the cover and put the heat back up to medium high, stirring the beans constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed and reduced by at least half. It will thicken considerable as it reduces. Serves 4.

Italian Millet

Millet is my newest favorite grain. It’s so simple to cook and it takes on other flavors so easily just as rice does. But unlike most rice dishes, millet is lower in simple carbs and higher in complex carbs so a great alternative to those watching their blood sugar levels. Here’s a really easy recipe that incorporates some of the great Italian flavors we all enjoy – sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, onion and garlic. This is definitely NOT a low-fat side dish! I used vegetable stock rather than a meat stock because most vegetable stocks have a nice mushroom flavor which adds umami to the dish. Be sure to use sun-dried tomatoes in oil because some of that oil will be used in cooking the dish.

First, cook per package directions (except using stock instead of water):

1/2 cup millet

in 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Generally, this means toasting the whole millet in a little oil and then adding it to the boiling stock, covering and cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the millet is soft. I like to take it off the heat at this point, leave the cover for a few minutes and then fluff the millet with a fork.

In the same skillet, heat until shimmering:

2 tablespoon olive oil (from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes)

Add and cook until tender, over medium heat:

1 medium onion, diced

1 cup shredded carrots* (optional)

When the onion is translucent, add:

1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1 teaspoon cumin (or turmeric)

2 teaspoons Italian herb mix (or dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, and basil)

Mix thoroughly so that the onion mixture is covered with the herbs. Continue cooking until the tomatoes and garlic are heated through, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the cooked millet. If the millet is cold, continue to cook over medium low heat for 3-4 minutes to reheat the millet. Serves 4.

*I like a lot of vegetables in my grains so I added a cup of shredded carrots with the onions.

Spiced Carrot Millet

If you’re looking for something different as a side dish, here’s a tasty way to go. If you haven’t tried millet, or just used it for breakfast, this gives you a great introduction to using it as a savory side dish. Per usual, the recipe is very adjustable – carrot is one way to go but parsnips, butternut squash, or even pea puree would work just as well depending on your family’s tastes. It’s fairly quick, about 30 minutes to prepare, and quite an easy, straightforward recipe. Enjoy something different!

First, in a 12″ skillet over medium heat dry toast:

1 cup whole millet

While the millet is toasting, in a 4-quart saucepan, over medium high heat, bring to a boil:

2 cups stock (I used vegetable stock but use any type you like, or even water, works)

Once millet is toasted (about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally), add it to the boiling stock. Stir to combine, cover and reduce heat to medium low or low, and cook through, about 20 minutes, until water is evaporated and the millet is softened.

While the millet cooks, in a double boiler, steam:

3/4 cup carrots (I used the pre-sliced but any kind will work)

Steam until soft and then blend, using a hand-held immersion blender with:

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon cumin (or 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric)

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black ground pepper)

In the bowl of a food processor, or using a hand grater, grate:

6-8 baby carrots

You should have about 1/3 to 1/2 cup. Once the millet is cooked, stir in these grated carrots and cover again. Let sit for 2-3 minutes. Once the cooked carrots are pureed (you could also use a food processor or stand blender), add to the millet mixture, stirring to combine.

Finish with some avocado oil, vegan butter or margarine; or a squeeze of lemon and/or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Garnish with some cilantro, green onions or chopped carrot top if desired. Serves 8.

Quick and Easy Air-Fried Zucchini Strips

I do love zucchini, it’s one of my go to vegetables. It’s delicious and versatile. This recipe is so easy to make (if you have a mandoline) but not difficult if you don’t, just slice the zucchini as thin as possible with a knife. Makes 2 servings.

Wash and trim off the stem from:

10-12 baby zucchini*

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice lengthwise into strips, discarding the skin slices (unless you manage to find organic baby zucchini!). Place strips into a medium bowl and toss them with:

1 tablespoon vinegar (whatever your family likes)

Spray the air fryer tray with non-stick spray and place the strips in one layer into the tray (took me 2 batches to cook them all). Place in the air fryer at 375 degrees. If you don’t have an air fryer oven, cook in your regular oven at 375 degrees for approximately 10 minutes, turning once. Cook for 5-6 minutes before turning them over and cooking until they begin to get crisp, another 2-3 minutes. If they start to get too brown, remove them or they will taste bitter. Salt and season however you like – i.e., garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, coriander, etc.

*If you have a Trader Joes near you, they sell packages of baby zucchini. I used one package.

Squash Parmesan, Lasagna Style

This dish is a lot like lasagna but with parmesan cheese between the layers instead of ricotta. I know it’s a little early for summer squashes but they are so tasty and now available year-round so I wanted to make something different, something fairly quick and easy which this dish definitely turned out to be. And so delicious with my favorite pasta sauce and parmesan. The only hard part of the dish is slicing the squash!

First, preheat oven to 450 degrees and line two LARGE baking sheets with parchment paper. Next, trim and slice lengthwise in about 1/4″ slices:

4-5 medium zucchini

4-5 medium yellow squash

About 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of squash. Place in a 9×12-13″ baking pan, and sprinkle with:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Using your hands or tongs, mix to coat the squash slices with the oil. Lay the slices of squash out on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the slices with:

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until they are tender. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. In the 9×12″ baking pan (the same one you already used, it’s okay if there’s olive oil in the bottom), spread:

1/2 cup of your favorite pasta sauce

Line the pan with squash slices. Top with more pasta sauce and:

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Repeat once or twice depending on how many squash slices are left. I only had a few so filled some gaps and only had two layers. If possible, end with sauce and cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cheese in browning and the casserole is bubbling. Let sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before serving so it sets. Serves 6.

TIP: Want a main dish instead of a side? Add 1-pound cooked ground meat, Italian sausage, or vegan protein to the pasta sauce.

As you can see, I ran out of sauce so ended with cheese only on top of the layer of squash.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Want a quick and easy side dish? Here’s one that even those who don’t care much for cabbage may enjoy. Use either red or green cabbage, or be lazy and buy a bag of cole slaw mix, doesn’t matter if there’s a few shredded carrots in there as well. Goes very well with any meat but for some reason cabbage especially likes pork or beef – steaks, chops, or roasts doesn’t matter. And feel free to change out the ground cloves for whatever spice your family prefers – cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, coriander, etc.

Heat a 10-12″ high-sided skillet over medium high heat and add:

2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat until shimmering and add:

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 large onion, sliced

Cook over medium heat until beginning to soften, 2-3 minutes. Add to the skillet:

2 cups shredded cabbage

Salt and ground pepper to taste

2 tablespoons water

Cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until the cabbage is softened, about 5 minutes. While it cooks, in a small bowl combine:

2 tablespoons vinegar (whatever kind your family prefers, I used white)

1 tablespoon date syrup (agave or maple would also work)

1/4 teaspoon celery seed or caraway

Whisk to combine and set aside. When cabbage is ready, pour the vinegar mixture into the skillet, stir to combine and let heat for about 30 seconds. Serve. Makes 2-4 servings.

TIP: Like braised cabbage, adding a diced apple or pear when the cabbage is added to the skillet and topping with some bacon bits would be great in this dish.

Honey Mustard Asparagus

Here’s a very quick and easy side dish if you like mustard and asparagus. Use either green or white, makes no difference. If your asparagus is more than pencil size, peel it to get rid of the tough skin. I used spicy brown mustard which is my favorite but feel free to use any mustard that your family enjoys. The same with the herbs – I used thyme because it’s my favorite but most herbs would work well in this recipe, either fresh or dried.

First, prepare by peeling and/or removing the woody portion at the bottom:

1 pound asparagus

Place in a steamer and cook until fork tender but still a little crunchy, about 4-7 minutes depending on the size of the asparagus spears.

While the asparagus steams, make the sauce in a medium bowl by whisking together:

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon honey (agave nectar or date syrup would also work)

1 tablespoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh herbs or 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs (I used thyme)

Once asparagus is cooked, remove from heat and add to the bowl of sauce, toss to combine. Serve hot or cold. Serves 2.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Onions

My grandson loves Brussel sprouts so for Christmas this year instead of simply steaming them, I decided to try something different. Quite an easy dish to make, these roasted sprouts get quite crunchy which only adds to the delicious combination of sprouts and bacon! I’m sorry I didn’t get a photo before we ate them all.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium size bowl combine:

1-1 1/2 pounds Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 small to medium red onions, peeled and cut into good sized pieces

1 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Toss to coat all the sprouts. TIP: I generally toss the sprouts before adding the olive oil. Spread mixture out onto large baking sheet in a single layer. TIP: I like to make sure all the sprouts are cut side down so they get extra crispy. Cut into thin strips:

1/2 pound bacon

Sprinkle the bacon strips over the Brussel sprouts and bake for 30-35 minutes until bacon is cooked and the sprouts are nicely browned. The onions will also be nicely caramelized. Serves 4-6. Serve warm.

Thai “Peanut” Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

My obsession with eggplant has been demolished and replaced with spaghetti squash. Such a versatile vegetable, low in carbs, and good either as a “spaghetti” type vegetable or as a mashed squash. In this instance, it’s used as a spaghetti. And of course, I’ve left out the peanuts and substituted tahini but really any seed or nut butter will work in this recipe. And feel free to adjust the last four ingredients in the sauce to meet your family’s tastes. I used a lot more of the red curry paste because I just didn’t taste it at the prescribed amount.

First, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half:

1 small to medium spaghetti squash (size depending on how many you want to feed)

Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and place face down on a baking tray. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a knife can be easily inserted into the skin side of the squash. Baking time will depend on the size of the squash. When tender, set aside to cool while you make the sauce.

In a medium size saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (if you can have coconut milk, it would work well here)

2/3 cup tahini, sunflower, pepita, or other seed or nut butter

1/4 cup date sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fish sauce (or soy substitute for vegans)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons red curry paste (I used about 2 tablespoons)

Whisk to combine thoroughly although some heat may be needed to break down the seed or nut butter. Cook over medium high heat until it reaches a boil and then reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a 12″ skillet, heat over medium heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add:

1/2 cup peas

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Cover and cook until the carrots and peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Using a fork, scrap the flesh from the inside of the spaghetti squash from end to end. Add to the skillet with the other vegetables along with 1/2 to 1 cup of the sauce. At this point, add:

1/4 cup chopped parsley (OPTIONAL)

Toss and cook for 2-3 minutes until squash is heated through. Serve with chopped nuts or seeds (I used roasted pumpkin seeds, delicious!). With a small squash as a side dish, serves 4.

This recipe makes about 3 times as much sauce as is needed for the dish. I spooned the remainder into 1 cup canning jars and put them in the freezer.