Woman preparing kimchi in clear jars

10 Side Dishes That Are Amazing for Your Health

Most people plan their meals around a main dish, not giving too much thought to the side dishes they add in.

But what if your side dishes could provide your body with an even bigger nutritional boost than your main dish?

Here are 10 side dishes to cook up that are amazing for your health, and are also a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of main dishes.

Kimchi

To put it simply, kimchi is basically the Korean version of sauerkraut.

What’s the difference between the two?

When it comes to making them, a few different things, ranging from the time that they take to ferment to the amount of salt used.

In terms of taste, kimchi is much punchier, but that’s usually because it contains a number of other ingredients in addition to the cabbage. Kimchi often boasts several different seasonings to give it more flavor, including garlic, ginger, fish sauce and spring onions.

Try mixing some kimchi through some rice – it will truly transform the rice into such an exciting side dish!

Sauerkraut

Two fresh jars of fermented vegetables

Often referred to as a superfood, sauerkraut is made from sliced cabbage, making it similar in a way to coleslaw.

However, the two are actually quite different…

While coleslaw is full of mayonnaise, sauerkraut is fermented, making it so much better for you.

Here are just a few of the benefits you will experience from eating more sauerkraut:

  • Better antioxidant protection thanks to the vitamins and minerals in sauerkraut. The fact that these are fermented means that your body is able to absorb them much more easily
  • Sauerkraut is full of probiotics, which improves the health of your gut, your brain and your immune system
  • Full of fiber but low in calories, sauerkraut will keep you feeling fuller for longer

Before you run out and buy yourself a jar of sauerkraut, there’s something you should know…

Store-bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized, meaning that it has been treated with heat. This destroys the beneficial probiotics in the sauerkraut, while also reducing the potency of its vitamins. Store-bought sauerkraut also usually contains preservatives and sugar, neither of which are good for you.

On the other hand, homemade versions are packed with probiotics and other potent nutrients. The homemade version also usually tastes better too.

Finely chopped vegetables

Wondering if it’s easy to make sauerkraut at home?

Yes, all you need is some cabbage and salt. There are various recipes online, some with the addition of other ingredients, so take a look at what’s out there to see what appeals to you the most.

Teff Bread

Never heard of teff bread before?

You’re probably also wondering how a bread made it onto this list of healthy side dishes…

Finely milled teff grain

Well, teff bread is pretty different from standard bread.

Teff is a gluten-free grain that is packed with nutrition. It is native to Ethiopia, although it is now being grown in countries around the world, including a couple of states in the USA. 

When it comes to nutrition, teff contains high amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • B Vitamins

All of these nutritional components mean that teff is able to help with everything from circulation to digestion to immune function. It even helps to re-balance hormonal levels, making it useful for treating the symptoms of PMS.

In order to make teff bread, the grain needs to first be fermented, which then gives it probiotic benefits too.

Not keen on bread making?

Teff can be used in other ways too. You can use it as a side dish in the same way that you would quinoa, although teff requires slightly more water when cooking.

Although teff grains are smaller than quinoa, they fluff up beautifully, making for a tasty and filling side dish.

Fresh or Fermented Salsa

A bowl of fresh salsa

Looking for something healthy to eat with the teff bread mentioned above?

Salsa will do the job perfectly.

Salsa is usually served raw, meaning that your body is able to obtain maximum nutrition from each of the ingredients.

It is also such an easy side dish to make, and can store in the refrigerator for a few days, during which time the flavors will only intensify even further.

If you want to make your salsa even healthier…

Try fermenting it!

This will provide the salsa with probiotics and live enzymes, making it even better for your body.

Salad with an Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

Putting oil on salad

Apple cider vinegar is another fermented food, which is why it is known for having so many health benefits.

How exactly is apple cider vinegar good for you?

In a number of ways, including:

  • It keeps the body’s pH level balanced, enabling the body to function in the best way possible
  • It lowers blood sugar levels
  • It increases good cholesterol in the body
  • It detoxifies the liver
  • It keeps the appetite under control, reducing cravings
  • It protects the bones by improving calcium absorption
  • It contains antioxidants that help to slow down the aging process
  • It contains anti-cancer properties, and can even shrink tumors 

After reading all of that, why wouldn’t you want to be eating more apple cider vinegar?!

The one thing that people struggle with is knowing how to actually make use of this star ingredient…

The easiest way is by turning the apple cider vinegar into a salad dressing. There are several recipes for this out there, each one containing various other healthy ingredients, from garlic to mustard to olive oil. No matter which you choose, the apple cider vinegar will add a beautiful tanginess and brightness to your salad, turning it into an incredible side dish.

Herring Platter

Small sliced herring and pink pickle on bread

This is a popular dish in Sweden, which also happens to be one of the healthiest countries in the world.

What does a herring platter actually consist of?

Well, as you can tell from its name, herring is the star of the dish. Being an oily fish, herring is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with both of these being essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

A herring platter usually consists of herring in a few different forms, such as raw, pickled and smoked. This already gives you a variety in terms of flavor and texture.

What else should the platter include?

Here are a few other foods to add in:

  • Wholegrain crackers – a healthy source of fiber
  • Raw vegetables – full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Pickled vegetables – these need to be fermented pickles in order to contain probiotic benefits
  • A sauce – the sauce is often made from mayonnaise and fresh herbs. For added benefits, swap the mayonnaise for a creamy sauce made from kefir or yogurt instead. Don’t hold back on the herbs, as these are a fantastic source of antioxidants

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Large stuffed poblano pepper

Have you ever tried poblano peppers before?

They are basically the green version of red Ancho peppers. While some of them can be quite hot and spicy, they are generally quite mild. In fact, a jalapeno is said to be about five times hotter than a poblano.

The fact that they aren’t too spicy means that you can eat more of them when compared to other types of hot peppers, which is something that would be hugely beneficial to your health.

Wondering how poblano peppers are good for you?

They have a number of different health benefits, such as:

  • They contain powerful anti-cancer properties, largely due to their capsaicin and riboflavin content
  • They are packed with antioxidants, with just a single poblano pepper containing almost 100% of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin A
  • They improve the strength and function of the immune system
  • They provide a natural form of pain relief, thanks to their quercetin and capsaicin content
  • They are a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient 

That’s probably enough to convince you to give them a try, but what do you actually stuff them with?

Well, since you’re trying to be healthy, stay away from fillings with bad fats, such as cream cheese and chorizo.

Instead, give barley a try.

Although barley is a grain, it contains over 80 different nutrients, as well as plenty of fiber.

You could also try stuffing poblano peppers with:

  • Brown rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Quinoa
  • Salsa
  • Cooked vegetables

Try combining a few of those filling ideas for a delicious flavor explosion!

Miso Soup

Wooden bowl of miso soup, with wooden spoon

Looking for a healthy soup to serve alongside a meal?

It doesn’t get much healthier than miso soup!

Miso is a fermented food, and is a traditional ingredient in Japan.

What’s it actually made from?

It basically consists of fermented soybeans, along with fermented grains. As you can imagine, there are so many different types and varieties of miso out there, each one varying depending on region, culture and more.

Here are a few of the more common varieties:

  • White Miso – quite a mild-flavored miso since it is only fermented for less than two months
  • Red Miso – fermented for up to three years, red miso has a deeper flavor and should be used in heartier dishes
  • Barley Miso – this is also quite mild and sweet, although it is fermented for longer than white miso 

Foodies would say that miso provides an exquisite umami flavor to food, and can be added to everything from soups to salads to vegetables to marinades.

In terms of health benefits, miso is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with gut-friendly probiotics.

When making miso soup…

You can add in so many other healthy ingredients too. From chilli, garlic and ginger to onions, chard and tofu, miso soup is an easy dish to personalize and make your own.

Black Beans

Bowl of black beans

You probably already know that beans are good for you. The fact that they contain high amounts of protein and fiber is no secret.

However, black beans, which are also known as turtle beans, have a few other nutritional components that make them even better than the rest…

The minerals within black beans, particularly calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, play an important role in maintaining the health of your bones and joints.

Black beans are also able to decrease blood pressure, help manage diabetes, protect against cancer and heart disease, and aid with digestion

If all of that wasn’t enough…

Black beans are packed with a wide range of phytonutrients, all of which provide antioxidant properties.

How do you actually cook black beans?

It takes a while to cook dried black beans – you need to begin soaking them the day before.

However, the canned versions are much quicker and easier to cook up.

Try cooking them Mexican-style with onions, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Alternatively, turn them into a chilli or a curry for a heartier side dish.

Roasted Beets

Roasted beetroot and shallots

Roasted beets are simply exquisite. Roasting brings out such a sweet and intense flavor that even those who don’t usually like beets cannot say no to them.

If you have never tried roasted beets, now is the time to do so.

All you need to do is place some whole beets into a baking tray with some olive oil and seasonings. Garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper work especially well.

Then, roast them for an hour or so, until they are tender. Their skin will pretty much fall off at this point, making them easy to peel.

Then, either slice them or mash them, and then serve them up!

What makes beets so healthy?

They are full of nutrients but low in calories. They help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Detoxification
  • Blood pressure
  • Immune function
  • Brain and bone health

Plus so much more!

It is always fun to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen, especially when you know that they are good for you. Whether you opt for a spoonful of sauerkraut, a bowl of miso soup or a beautiful herring platter, these side dishes will really help to give your health a huge boost.

Father and daughter dancing on bed

Fun Family Exercise Routines

Obesity rates are a growing problem, especially among the new generations of children who prefer spending their days indoors behind a screen, rather than being active outside.

This is why exercising as a family is so important. It not only teaches your children the importance of staying physically fit, setting a good example for them, but it can also be such a fantastic bonding experience for the whole family.

Not sure where to start?

Here are some fun ways to exercise with your family that everyone will enjoy…

Get Dancing

Dancing is such a fantastic workout, and this is an easy one for getting the whole family involved.

All you need to do is put together a playlist of songs that your family love, turn up the volume and get moving! If you do this in the evening, adding in flashlights in lieu of strobe lights can make the activity even more special for young children.

You will likely find that this is an activity that your family could do for hours, enabling all of you to reap the many benefits of dancing, such as:

Walk the Dog

This may seem simple, but children tend to have such a fascination with animals.

An activity as basic as walking the dog will likely seem so much more exciting to kids than to you, making this a great way to get the whole family (as well as the dog) moving.

Family running with the dog

To keep things interesting, try to pick new routes and locations each day. Areas where your dog can run free and properly play and interact with the entire family would be a bonus.

Don’t have a dog?

Borrow a friend or neighbor’s dog instead. Even if you do have a dog, adding in an extra one can really change the dynamics of your walk.

There are also many apps out there that connect dog owners with people who enjoy walking them. This will give your family the chance to interact with many different pooches, although you would need to ensure that they are each child-friendly.

Commercial Break Workouts

Are there any television shows that the entire family watch together?

Well, since you already have everyone in the same room, this is a great opportunity to sneak some exercise in too.

How?

You will need to wait for the commercials to come on, but, as soon as they do, get everyone doing a certain exercise. From high jumps to planking to push-ups, this is a great way of ensuring that your children don’t end up too sedentary when watching TV.

You could also arrange for each family member to take turns being the “leader” of the workout for each commercial break. This will make things more interesting, as everyone will be able to have their say when it comes to exercises that they enjoy.

Jump Roping

Is jump roping something that your children do?

This simple activity actually brings with it a number of benefits, such as:

  • Improved motor coordination
  • Improved agility, speed, reflexes and balance
  • Provides cardio benefits
  • Helps with brain development and boosts creativity

Plus, the fact that jump roping is a low-impact activity means that it will not put any unnecessary pressure on the joints.

Family jumping rope in the park

There are plenty of jump roping games and rhymes to be found online, so equip yourself with some of these before introducing the activity to your family.

Grow Some Food

No matter what age you are, being able to grow something and then eat it gives you a huge thrill of satisfaction. The fact that you can also enjoy organic produce at a fraction of what you would have paid for it is an added bonus. 

This is something that your whole family can take part in, with each family member choosing a few of their favorite foods to grow.

Wondering where the exercise part comes in?

Gardening itself is actually a fantastic workout!

Did you know that gardening for an hour can burn as many calories as if you had jogged for four miles? 

Gardening requires your body to perform such a wide range of motions, from squatting and bending to lifting and digging, giving you the ultimate workout. It also triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins, while teaching your children a sense of responsibility.

Wondering how to get started?

Have a family meeting to discuss the foods you want to grow. Then, go out and get some seeds or plants, and get growing!

Some easy foods to start off with include:

  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Different types of lettuces
  • Herbs

Don’t forget to teach your family how to properly warm up before gardening, especially if you have a few strenuous tasks ahead of you that day. Due to all of the muscles that are used when gardening, gardening-related injuries are actually more common than you would think!

Go for a Swim

Swimming is often referred to as the perfect exercise.

Why?

Because it provides you with all of the benefits of a full aerobic workout, but without putting any pressure on the joints. Swimming is an exercise that can be done by just about every member of the family, no matter their age. 

When it comes to deciding where to go for a family swim…

You can either opt for a local swimming pool or the sea, although this does depend on where you live. While the sea usually tends to be more fun, this can often be impractical in the colder months, so make sure that you have a few back-up options too. 

Can’t imagine your children getting on board with the idea of swimming laps?

Don’t worry, they don’t need to!

You can either just leave them to splash and play about in the water, which will bring them pretty similar health benefits, or you can get everyone involved in a family pool game.

Jumping or diving competitions are always fun, as is Starfish Tag. Younger children tend to love underwater mirror games, while balancing competitions on a floating mattress will get everybody’s muscles working.

Cycling Adventures

While it may be easy enough to cycle with your kids to school instead of driving them, or cycling to the shops on the weekends, this list is all about ways to make exercise fun.

The best way to do that when it comes to cycling is by turning the journey into a little adventure.

Family cycling outdoors

This means planning new routes and cycling through new areas, so that the views and scenery are different each time. Try to alternate between urban and rural areas, as this contrast will keep things interesting.

Planning your route so that there is something special and rewarding at the end of it will help to give your kids some extra motivation. Treating them to a hot chocolate at a cafe, or visiting a pond to feed some ducks, will help to make the activity even more special.

Turn Household Chores into a Workout

Ok, so the idea of turning household chores into a workout may not seem like much fun at first, but hear this out…

Just like with gardening, household chores require the body to perform such a wide range of motions, giving you a great workout.

The trick to getting the whole family involved is to make it fun, by adding in some music and a competitive edge.

The music needs to be energetic and fast-paced, and you should try to get each family member to contribute to the playlist, as everyone will have certain tunes that motivate them.

You need to make sure that you also time this chore workout well…

You don’t want to do it before a mealtime, when everyone is hungry and cranky. You also don’t want to do it after a meal, when everyone is full.

Wondering how to actually turn those boring chores into a competitive workout?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Wash the car within a certain length of time, competing to see whose side is the cleanest
  • See who can tidy away the most items in a certain amount of time, but make sure that everyone squats instead of bending down normally
  • Everyone takes a window or a wall to clean, competing to see who can do the best job the fastest
  • Play a guessing game with laundry items, before giving each family member their own items to fold
  • Get everyone making some bread, as the kneading process gives the arms a great workout
  • Use step trackers to see who takes the most steps when doing chores for 20 minutes. Many smartphones already have a step tracker in them, saving you from having to purchase dedicated trackers for each family member

Try Different Sports

Sports games can be so much fun, to the point where you often forget how long you have actually been exercising for.

Learning a new sport can be even more exciting, and there are so many different sports out there that you and your family could try.

In addition to providing some good ol’ fashioned fun, regularly playing family sports games will result in the following:

  • Better learning skills, and therefore better academic results
  • Improved problem-solving and teamwork skills
  • Gives the body a workout, keeping it healthy
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence
  • Reduced stress

So, which sports should you try playing with your family?

Well, that depends…

If there is already a sport that every member of your family enjoys playing, you could try to improve your skills in this. Sign your family up for a class, or enter yourselves into a local tournament.

On the other hand, if your family isn’t naturally inclined to sports…

Keeping things varied will help to make the activities more fun.

Try having each family member pick a sport that they would want to try, and then you could alternate which one you do each week.

A few ideas would be:

  • Cricket
  • Boxing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Frisbee
  • Table tennis

Father and child playing basketball

Even something like bowling would still ensure that your family are on their feet for a few hours.

You could make things more interesting by having rewards for the winning team or “punishments” for the losing team. For example, the losing team would need to cook the family meal that night, or the winning team would be able to decide what to watch on TV for that week. This will give everyone the motivation to put their all into the activity.

Make Some Exercise Cards

Have you heard of exercise cards before?

They’re an increasingly popular way to plan a workout.

Each card in the deck would feature a specific workout, whether this may be a bodyweight exercise, a stretch, or anything else.

Exercise cards are available pre-printed, but since this is an activity that you are basing around your family, you may find it more useful to create your own deck of cards.

Why?

Because this way you can incorporate exercise that fit your family’s specific skills and requirements. You can add in plenty of fun games, such as the jump roping mentioned above, to keep your kids interested.

Once you have your deck of exercise cards together, set aside some time for your family workout. Then, get everyone in the family to pick one or two cards from the deck, before combining these all together to create your unique routine.

You can keep things interesting by alternating the location of your workouts. While there is nothing wrong with doing these at home or in your backyard, taking your deck to a local park or hiking trail will instantly make the workout seem so much more exciting.

Exercising is something that every family should be doing together, but it can definitely be tricky to find activities that the whole family can enjoy. Each of these activities will provide your family with a fantastic workout, while keeping them motivated and engaged at the same time.