Healthy Southern Sides!

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Here in Eastern North Carolina it is pig cooking competition season, you can keep it on the healthy list by buying the pork and cleaning up the sides a little! Traditionally our tender pork is served with good ole sweet southern slaw or potato salad. Here are a couple of ways to make a healthier version of your favorites, and some suggestions for a few others!

Healthy Potato Salad


  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 1½ pounds red potatoes
  • ¾ cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 tablespoons capers


  1. Peel and dice the hard boiled eggs.
  2. Place the potatoes in a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch. Salt the water generously. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork, 10 -20 minutes depending upon their size. Do not over cook, or your potato may be mushy.
  3. Prepare the dressing: To a food processor or blender, add the Greek yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, celery salt, and black pepper. Cut 2 of the green onions into 4 pieces each and add them to the food processor as well.
  4. Finely chop the third green onion and set aside. Blend the dressing until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the food processor a few times as needed.
  5. Drain the potatoes. As soon as you can handle them safely, cut potatoes into 1½-inch chunks (depending upon the size of your potatoes, this will be either halves or quarters). Transfer to a large bowl.
  6. While the potatoes are still hot, pour ¾ of the dressing over the top.
  7. Gently stir to combine (it will look like a lot of dressing). Let sit 10 minutes, stirring once or twice as it rests.
  8. Add the celery, capers, and eggs. Reserve a tablespoon or so of the remaining chopped green onion for garnish, then add the rest to the bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and add more salt/pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. Just before serving, add the remaining dressing as desired, taste once more for salt (potatoes drink it up! I usually add a few big pinches), and sprinkle with the reserved green onion. Enjoy!

Serves 6, each serving contains Calories 210, Carbohydrates 22g., Protein 8g., Fat 10g., Fiber 3g.

Homemade Healthy Green Bean Casserole


For the onions:

  • 2 medium to large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or gluten free oat flour)
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the green beans:

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

For the mushrooms:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ⅓ cup all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour or all purpose GF flour)
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetarian broth)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425º F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Place sliced onions in a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil then add in flour, panko bread crumbs, garlic powder and salt. Use your hands to toss to combine, then place onions onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 15-25 minutes, using a tong to toss the onions every 8-10 minutes or so, until nice and crispy.
  3. Once done cooking, set onions aside. Reduce the heat in the oven to 350° F.
  4. While the onions are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans in two batches, cooking for about 2-3 minutes per batch. I like to remove the green beans from the water with metal tongs and transfer to a large bowl, then repeat with additional green beans. Set aside.
  5. Next cook your mushrooms: Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in 2 tablespoons butter. Once butter melts, add in the mushrooms, fresh thyme and salt and pepper. Cook mushrooms, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are nice and golden brown; about 4-6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  6. In the same skillet you cooked the mushrooms, add in 2 tablespoons of butter and place over medium heat. Once butter melts, whisk in flour and cook for 15-30 seconds until a paste forms, then VERY slowly add 2 cups of the broth, while you continue to whisk away any lumps. You’ll need to whisk pretty vigorously.
  7. Once smooth, increase heat, and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes stirring every so often until sauce thickens up a bit, similar to a gravy. If it gets way too thick, add in ¼-½ cup more broth.
  8. Once thick, turn off the heat and stir in minced garlic and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Spray a 2 quart baking dish or 9×13 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, or grease with olive oil or butter. Add in green beans, mushrooms and ¼ of the crispy onions; gently toss together.

Pour the sauce all over, then cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil, add the remaining crispy onions on top and bake for 5-10 more minutes. Serves 8-10.

Serves 10, each serving contains Calories 159, Carbohydrates 18g., Protein 7g., Fat 7g., Fiber 3g.

Almond Rice Pilaf


  • 1½ cups brown rice
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup ground raw almonds
  • dash granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • black pepper to taste

Using a Rice cooker: Place all of the ingredients in a rice cooker and put the switch on cook. Cook until the water evaporates, about 30 minutes.

Using a Microwave: Place all ingredients in a large, covered, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on 80% power for 33 minutes. Fluff cooked rice with a fork. This dish goes very well with fish and chicken. Add a large green salad to complete the meal.

Serves 6. Each serving (¾ cup): 202 calories, 4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 37 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 5 g protein 

Are you Afraid Your Family Will Not Like Brown Rice?

Here is Your Solution: Make sure the ratio of water to rice is at least 2 to 1. For example, if you are cooking 1 cup of brown rice, use 2 cups plus a tablespoon of

water. Keep the cooking container covered very well and cook until the water is evaporated –usually around 30-35 minutes. This will ensure that you have a slightly softer brown rice, which is more like white rice in texture and appearance.

Try the Almond Pilaf using other flavoring agents besides almonds, including:

  • Confetti Rice – Add a variety of diced vegetables.
  • Cuban – Add diced bell peppers and raisins.
  • Chili – Add tomato paste and chili powder.
  • Italian – Add oregano and grated Parmesan cheese.