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Side Dish Recipes With Top Antioxidant Foods

Last Updated on: November 16, 2021

plates on a table filled with food for thanksgiving dinner

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be bland. If you want to give your body the health boost it needs without sacrificing taste, try making some antioxidant-rich recipes. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

A great way to help your body stay healthy is to make your own meals. But sometimes it can be difficult to find healthy recipes that still taste good. What if you can give your meals a health boost without sacrificing flavor? By incorporating the top antioxidant foods into your daily meals, you can enjoy food that not only tastes great but is great for your health!

What Are Antioxidants?

Every day, your body is exposed to an army of free radicals, which are very unstable molecules. Your body naturally produces free radicals when converting food into energy or when exercising, and normally, your body would be able to eliminate excess free radicals that could cause damage. However, life today exposes everyone to more free radicals through the environment. Things like air pollution, cigarette smoke, and even sunlight expose your body to more free radicals every day. (1)

While free radicals are important for some cellular functions, overexposure to them can be harmful. When you are exposed to an abundance of free radicals, specifically those called reactive oxygen species (ROS), you can experience oxidative stress and a variety of health conditions. (2)

Antioxidants are both natural and man-made substances that neutralize free radicals by giving them an electron. As a result, antioxidants help reduce the amount of oxidative stress your body experiences, as well as the side effects associated with it. (2) While your body produces its own antioxidants, you still need to give your body more through your diet.

Foods High in Antioxidants

Not all foods are created equal. Some are naturally higher in antioxidants than others, which means adding them to your diet can help give your body the extra help it needs to fight off free radicals and oxidative stress.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture tested over 100 foods from different categories to determine which ones contained the most antioxidants. Included in their list of the top 20 are (3):

  • Small red beans
  • Wild or cultivated blueberries
  • Red kidney beans
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Prunes
  • Sweet cherries
  • Black beans
  • Plums
  • Gala, red delicious, or granny smith apples
  • Dark leafy greens

Some other top antioxidant foods include pears, mangoes, pomegranates, dried fruit (with no added sugar), broccoli, carrots, potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, pepper, paprika, garlic, oatmeal, and nuts. (3, 4)

Side Dish Recipes With Top Antioxidant Foods

Step up your cooking game to include recipes that use some of the top antioxidant foods! These are just a few of our favorite antioxidant-rich side dishes that you can enjoy at home.

spinach and berry salad in a bowl

Spinach and Berry Salad

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • Strawberries, sliced
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Crumbled feta cheese

Instructions:

  • Mix the spinach and berries together in a salad bowl. Use however much of each ingredient you would like.
  • Sprinkle the crumbled feta on top of the salad.
  • Serve with a vinaigrette or poppyseed dressing.
  • Optional: add sliced avocados, diced red onion, diced mango, or chopped almonds or walnuts to your salad.

homemade steamed vegetables

Steamed Vegetables

This recipe is great for a variety of vegetables, including broccoli, carrots, spinach, artichoke, and asparagus.

Instructions:

  1. Chop your vegetables so that they are relatively the same size.
  2. Place your vegetables in a steamer basket, and place the basket in a saucepan that has over 1 inch of water in it.
  3. Cover the steamer basket with a lid, and bring the water to a boil.
  4. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a low boil.
  5. Cook the vegetables until they are vibrant in color and you can easily pierce the thickest part with a fork or paring knife.

salad with apples and nuts in a wooden bowl

Kale and Spinach Salad With Apples and Cranberries

Ingredients:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Apple, chopped (choose Gala, Red Delicious, or Granny Smith for the most antioxidants)
  • Dried cranberries
  • Carrots, shredded

Instructions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Use however much of each ingredient you want.
  2. Serve with a vinaigrette dressing.

sweet potates in a white baking tray

Sheet Pan Fried Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or sweet paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
  • Cut the sweet potato into fairly thin slices, and add the slices to a bowl.
  • Drizzle the sweet potato slices with olive oil, and add the cinnamon or paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix everything together in the bowl so that the potato slices are evenly coated with the spices and oil.
  • Pour the sweet potato slices onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Spread the slices out across the pan.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating the slices halfway through.

Chef’s note: This recipe is great for other vegetables, too. Try it with broccoli, asparagus, or russet potatoes, and try using different spices for variety.

fresh asparagus and tomatoes

Asparagus and Tomatoes (5)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
  • ⅔ cup water
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved

Instructions:

  1. Add the asparagus and water to a skillet over medium heat. Cover and cook until the asparagus is tender.
  2. Drain the water from the skillet and reduce heat to low.
  3. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  4. Add the grape tomatoes to the skillet and cover. Let it sit for about two minutes, until the cheese melts and the tomatoes are lightly steamed.
  5. Serve warm.

black bean dip in a decorative bowl

Mild Sweet Potato, Corn, and Black Bean Dip

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon + ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup black beans
  • ¼ cup green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the sweet potato and 1 Tbsp coconut oil.
  3. Sprinkle in the coriander, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Mix to combine.
  4. Pour the sweet potato mixture onto a baking sheet and spread out evenly.
  5. Roast the sweet potatoes for 17-20 minutes, until tender when poked with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  6. Add the sweet potato, corn, black beans, green onion, and cilantro to a bowl.
  7. In a small jar or dressing mixer, add the garlic, Sriracha sauce, lime juice, and ¼ cup coconut oil. Shake well to combine.
  8. Pour half of the Sriracha mixture onto the vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Toss gently to mix together.
  9. Garnish with extra cilantro and green onions before serving.
  10. Serve with tortilla chips or on its own.

Eating Healthy Made Easy

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or tasteless. With these simple side dish recipes, you can incorporate some of the top antioxidant foods into your diet to give your body the extra boost it needs.

Did you try a different antioxidant-rich recipe? Share it with us in the comments!

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