How to Naturally Flavor Side Dishes

Stop buying boxed side dishes. Make your own with these easy recipes.

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Why Cooking Rice With Coconut Oil Cuts Half the Calories (3:32)

While boxed side dishes are popular to make because of their convenience and taste, they can be loaded with harmful additives, chemicals, and sodium. Stop buying them and instead make easy, flavorful, healthier alternatives at home. Chef Nikki Dinki has three all-natural tricks to making healthier side dishes that you’ll love.

Add Salsa to Your Rice

Instead of using pre-packaged seasoning to give your rice a kick, try adding salsa into the pot while the rice is boiling. By combing in a mixture of salsa and water, you’ll add a natural spice to your rice. You can use whichever salsa you like best — spicy or mild depending on the dish. Pick a mild salsa to help balance out your plate when your main dish is spicy, or bring extra heat to dinner with spicy salsa.

Flavor to Your Grains with Chicken Cubes

Substitute adding butter or oil to your grains with a schmaltz cube to achieve a delicious savory chicken taste. Schmaltz is a fancier name for chicken fat, and schmaltz cubes can easily be made at home. Next time you’re cooking up chicken that has a little fat in it, like skin-on chicken breast, don’t throw out the fat that’s left in the pan. Let it cool off, pour it into an ice cube tray, and freeze to make the cubes. Once your grain of choice is ready to be served, simply stir the schmaltz into the pot to add instant richness and flavor.

Infuse Your Rice with Orange Juice

Compliment savory dishes with a citrus-flavored side. Try boiling your rice, or another grain of choice, in orange juice instead of water. You can achieve the same great taste as a packaged side dish without any preservatives. This trick creates a unique flavor that pairs well with a lot of dishes like grilled chicken or salmon. 

Related: 

How to Cut the Calories of Rice in Half

The Ingredients to Look for in Boxed Side Dishes

Healthy Carbs to Eat for Weight Loss