cooking for one // side dishes

When it comes to cooking, I feel like we fall into a couple categories. Either you love cooking, you hate cooking, or you just don’t know how to cook. I’ve been lucky enough that both my mom and my dad were always cooking while growing up. They also both welcomed me and my sister in the kitchen. I mean after all, who wouldn’t mind an extra pair of hands to help with shredding cheese, cutting up veggies or even just helping to set the table or get the water boiled?

When it comes to side dishes, there is so much you can do! Hopefully this list will inspire you to cook something different than your go to regulars. I always like to try new things but at the same time; I am always hesitant. I don’t want to waste the food or my money if I don’t like it. But the risk is always worth it when you find something new that you really enjoy!

1. Parsnip
Okay, so I recently introduced myself to parsnip because of my love for root veggies. I saw them at the grocery store and they aren’t too expensive. I’ve been trying to limit the amount of potatoes I eat because I loveeeee potatoes no matter how they are prepared. Parsnip is a sweeter vegetable – similar to a carrot. I typically roast them with a bit of oil and play around with different seasonings such as garlic, pepper, cayenne or whatever else I am feeling. Just a bit of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper are great too! I also like to mix both carrot and parsnip together as a side dish.

2. Sweet potato
So I’ve always got a stock of sweet potatoes at home. There is so much you can do with them – just like a regular potato. If I am cooking something in the oven then I will just rinse a sweet potato and pop it in the oven to cook for about 45 minutes. This is like a baked potato. I also love roasting these just like I do with my parsnip. However, I am a sucker for different types of dips. I love jalapeño cheddar, spicy mayo, hot sauce, plum sauce, thai sauce; you name it! But when it comes to sweet potatoes, nothing is better than preparing them like fries in the oven. Coating them in a bit of olive oil and seasoning and then dipping them in chipotle dipping sauce is amazing! I am about to drool just thinking about it..

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3. Garlic mashed red potatoes
I actually made these recently for the first time in a while and damn they were good. Although not the healthiest, they are easy enough to prepare and make for a nice comfort food. I wash them up and then cut off the odd marks or “flaws” on each one. I like to leave a bit of the skin on though. Then I just boil the chunks of red potato in some water for about 10 minutes. Once they are cooked through, I strain them to get rid of the water. Then you add the good stuff – milk, butter, minced garlic and a bit of pepper. Mash them up and serve! Super easy.

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4. Brussels sprouts
If you don’t like brussels sprouts than you’re not preparing them right. I buy baby brussels sprouts – usually the frozen bag from Presidents Choice. If I am using the BBQ to grill my meat then I love to make brussels on the BBQ. If not, I’ll roast them in the oven just like I do with my root veggies. Cooking them on the BBQ is easy, I just boil them for a bit first since they were frozen. Then I wrap them in tin foil after adding some butter, garlic, salt and pepper with them. The BBQ gets them a little crispy on the outside and I love that.

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5. Rosemary potatoes
Yes I know, I already included potatoes but there is just too many things you can do. After all, I really do love potatoes. But these are worth sharing. First I’ll boil the potatoes so they are cooked through. Then I’ll fry them quickly just to get a little bit of crunch to the outside of them. Once they are starting to brown in the oil, I’ll add a bit of rosemary to the pan. The flavour combination is something I really enjoy.

6. Roasted beets
Growing up my mom was always pickling stuff. Making her own dill pickles (which are unreal) or making pickled beets for example. I never got into the pickled beets but recently I tried roasted beets at home. They weren’t bad at all! The worst part is peeling and cutting up the beets – but I find all root vegetables are hard to cut for the most part. Luckily for me, I just got a new knife set. Anyways, I roasted the beets in the oven in a glass dish with a bit of butter and salt and pepper. This was worth making again – but definitely hasn’t replaced my love for parsnip, carrots, or sweet potatoes.

Of course, I also love making rice or quinoa as sides. There is so much you can do with them both. Other staples that I have on hand for quicker and easier side dishes include corn, broccoli, peas, and green beans.

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