healthy side dishes

Rosemary & Thyme Roasted Carrots

We've always been inclined to bake our veggies, especially around the holidays. For one, baked veggies seem to taste sweeter and more flavorful versus using other cooking methods. Second, baking is much healthier than steaming, as many nutrients get lost in the water used to steam. Last, we love raw veggies, but they don't convey the same effort as a heartfelt baked dish. I mean, imagine hosting a dinner party and serving a plate of raw carrots. #awkward. 

Here is our super simple and yummy recipe for baked carrots, completely approved for your holiday dinner party. 

Ingredients (serves 4): 

  • 2 large bags of organic carrots
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • Rosemary 
  • Thyme 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash carrots with water. Cut in half horizontally. In small bowl, mix carrots, oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Lay carrots on non stick baking sheet or pan, in a single layer. Add rosemary and thyme - don't be afraid to be generous! 
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes, until carrots are tender. 

Crispy Broccoli Rice

While cauliflower rice has taken the spotlight for quite awhile now, it's looking like it might be time to share the stage with it's cousin, Broccoli! That's right, broccoli rice is officially a thing!! 

This recipe for crispy broccoli rice is super simple and requires just 5 ingredients, 4 of which are likely already sitting in your kitchen cabinet. Serve this as a side to almost any dish, or add in your choice of protein to make it an entree. 

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 1 large head of broccoli (or 3/4 bag of broccoli rice) 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded 
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pepper to taste 


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Put broccoli head into food processor to make broccoli "rice" if you do not have the pre-riced broccoli.
  3. In a baking tin, add olive oil and broccoli rice. Sprinkle garlic powder on top and gently mix together in tin. 
  4. Allow contents to bake for about 35 minutes. Then open oven and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. 
  5. Allow to bake for another 5-8 minutes, until Parmesan appears melted but not burned. 
  6. Allow to cool for about 1 minute before serving. 

Watercress and Mushroom Salad

This week we are all about finding ways to add greens to your dinner in new and delicious ways. On Monday we talked brussels sprouts, and today we're giving you watercress. If you're looking for a light and easy salad to start your meal, this is the dish for you. It is quick, easy, and super tasty. Watercress has an abundance of health benefits, including cancer prevention. Watercress has a high level of antioxidants that prevent your DNA from damage. It also contains high levels of vitamins A, C, and K, which is excellent for bone health. Watercress also provides chlorophyll, which helps block carcinogenic amines that are created when grilling meats at high temperature. 

Mushrooms, a member of the fungi family, provide a meaty flavor and consistency to the salad. They help boost the immune system by increasing the killer T cells in the body which go after the bad guys. Mushrooms also contain choline, an important nutrient that aids in sleep regulation, muscle movement, learning and memory. It also helps reduce inflammation in the body. Never thought you could do so much for your body before getting to the main course?!

watercress and mushroom salad

Ingredients: (serves 4 as appetizer or side dish)

  • 3 shallots, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1 pound oyster, crimini, or shiitaki mushrooms, stems removed and cut in half
  • 5 oz watercress, cut and torn 
  • 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
  • 2 ounces shaved parmagiano cheese (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil to sauté shallots and mushrooms


  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons whine wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon leaves
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Combine all of the dressing ingredients besides the olive oil in a food processor and blend until evenly chopped. Transfer to a bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Mix to create dressing consistency
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat and add mushrooms, sliced almonds, and sliced shallots. Cook about 7 minutes until tender and the shallots are browning
  3. In a serving bowl, transfer the mushrooms, shallots, and almonds and add the watercress. Mix together and add a dash of salt and pepper. Option to top with shaved parmigiano cheese. 
  4. Dress lightly, toss, and serve

*You can also dress lightly with simply 2 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper 


Bring on the Brussels

Shaved brussels sprouts, shown here with sliced almonds

Shaved brussels sprouts, shown here with sliced almonds

It's safe to say that Brussels sprouts are a guarantee on any given restaurant menu these days. They're one of those few and far between food trends that simply taste too good to retire. So why not come up with ways to make the classic "crispy Brussels" recipe a bit more interesting? 

Here is one of our favorite ways to spin this dish. The pomegranate seeds add a splash of color along with a boost of antioxidants, while the walnuts provide healthy omega 3's and vitamin E. 

Ingredients: (serves as a side for 6-8)

  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts, cut in half (or shredded)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (can also use sliced almonds)
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons Balsamic reduction
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, coat the brussels sprouts with the olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper
  3. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spread the brussels evenly
  4. Roast for 20-25 minutes until tender and ends start to crisp
  5. While brussels are roasting, toast the walnuts in a sauté pan with 1 tsp of oil 
  6. Pour brussels sprouts, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds in a serving bowl. Drizzle with a sweet balsamic reduction glaze 


Quinoa-Mexicana Salad

We're always in for Mexican food, but between the tacos, tortilla chips, and queso, it's fair to say that Mexican cuisine often comes with a price tag. And we're not talking money. That's why we've added a Mexican flare to your standard quinoa salad. This is a Tovita favorite because it combines a high-protein whole grain with fibrous fruits and veggies. Between the black beans and the quinoa, this dish can stand alone as a meal or make for a delicious side. Make a batch of this versatile recipe to have on hand for the busy week, or get creative and showcase it at your next dinner party stuffed in fresh crispy peppers. Promise, this one's a crowd pleaser.

quinoa salad

Ingredients (serves ~6-8):

  • 1 cup quinoa (any color of preference)
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup corn (optional: use Trader Joe's corn salsa)
  • 1/2 large avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 cup mango, diced 
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 limes, sliced 


  1. Prepare 1 cup dired quinoa over stove (1 cup dried quinoa + 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Once at boil, turn heat down to simmer. Place lid on top of pot and cook until water is evaporated). 
  2. Once cooked, move quinoa into large bowl and set aside to cool. 
  3. Add black beans, corn, avocado, mango, and tomatoes to quinoa. Mix evenly. 
  4. Squeeze limes over salad and stir evenly (may use more or less as desired).
  5. Place in refrigerator and allow salad to cool for at least 4 hours.
stuffed peppers