DIY Healthy Sides for Fried Chicken
Yes, you can go to your local KFC or Popeyes and just order a fried chicken. No one’s forcing you to order anything else. But you’re missing an essential component of a truly great chicken meal. You’re missing the perfect side dish to go with your chicken.
It’s not as if you don’t have a few side dish options to pick from when you enter a fast-food joint. Enter a Zaxby’s, and they sure have plenty of salads (see more here) to go with your chicken. Or you can get a biscuit, some mashed potatoes and gravy, or even a stack of waffles.
These aren’t all that healthy, though, to be honest. Even the salads are suspect, since many of the salads at fast-food joints contain high levels of salt and calories. But you can always just have your chicken delivered, and you can cook your own healthy side dishes as you wait.
Here are some side dishes you can make in your own kitchen. They’re easy enough to cook, as long as you have a microwave oven.
This is easy to make, since you probably have a microwave oven in your kitchen. That makes everything easier.
You start by using fresh broccoli over the frozen ones, so that’s healthier and even tastier too. Cut off the crown from the stem. Peel the stem, and then cut crosswise so you have half-inch slices. Then slice the florets into 2-inch pieces.
Set the florets into a bowl (make sure it’s microwave-safe, and the same goes for its lid). Add about 3 tablespoons of cold water. Cover the bowl loosely with the lid. Set the power to high and cook for 2 minutes.
You can check if it’s done just by using a fork to pierce the stalk. If you’re able to do this easily, it’s done. Test at 30-second intervals you know you’ve got tender broccoli.
The choice of seasoning for the broccoli is up to you. Salt and pepper will always be good, but you can go with mayo, cheese sauce, garlic butter, or soy sauce.
Corn on the Cob
This is easy if you’re just cooking a single ear of corn, to go with your chicken. Start with the corn still in its husk and then microwave using the high setting for 4 minutes. For some microwave ovens, though, this may overcook the corn. In that case, start with just 2 minutes, and add another minute (or 2) of cooking until it’s done.
The corn will be very hot afterwards, so use a kitchen towel to take it out. Cut off the bottom of the corn at the stem end, cutting about 1 row of corn in from the stem.
Remove the husk and silk, and you’re good to go.
Yep, you can use your microwave oven again. Just wash and trim your green beans first, and then place them in the microwave-safe bowl. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the bowl, and that usually means putting in about 2 or 3 tablespoons of water.
Cover the bowl, and then microwave the beans for 4 to 6 minutes. That should leave you with tender green beans.
Remove the cover (careful, the steam will be quite hot) and drain the liquid. Add a tab of butter to the bowl, and toss the green beans around so they all get that buttery coating. Then sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.
You can use your microwave oven for this, though you need to make sure you don’t overcook the brussels sprouts. These should still be somewhat crispy when you’re done. So, when in doubt, undercook. In fact, these brussels sprouts actually continue to cook on their own for a few minutes after you take them out of the microwave oven.
Start by cutting off the brown ends from the brussels sprouts. Place the brussels sprouts in a bowl, and add a few tablespoons of water. Cover the bowl with the lid. Again, the bowl and the lid should be microwave-safe.
Microwave on high for 6 minutes, if you’re cooking whole brussels sprouts. But if you cut them in half beforehand, the cooking time becomes just 4 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the microwave oven and drain. Season the brussels sprouts with your preferred seasonings. Try seasonings that enhance the flavor of the brussels sprouts, instead of overpowering it.
If you want to try something new, then sprinkle them with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and then drizzle with extra-virgin oil. Toss to coat, and you’re done.
See, you can have tasty yet healthy sides for your chicken. You don’t have to go with your usual French fries or mashed potatoes with gravy. Besides, these sides are easy enough to cook on your own, and they’ll cost you a lot less!