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Vegetable Side Dishes That Will Help You Eat Less Carbs.

Updated on May 26, 2018
Maria Cecilia profile image

Maria Cecilia believes that writing is a pleasure and at the same time a challenge to her flexibility.


This article will only talk about vegetable side dishes that I created and enhanced so it can become a solution to my rice overeating problem. I will no longer discuss another factor like health benefits of each vegetable because I assumed we already know all vegetables have health benefits, especially when consumed properly. My article is more on side dishes suggestion so that people with health issues can enjoy their veggies and live a healthy life happily.

Are You a Humongous Carbs Eater?

I called myself a humongous rice eater because I know I can eat more than 2 cups, especially when I am hungry and my viands were favorites like roasted pork belly, fried chicken, and those served with tomato sauce. Aside from those, I love sweets like cakes and chocolates. With my present age, I am no longer fit to eat unhealthily and I realized it when my blood pressure remains high in spite of maintenance medicine. So I ended up going to my doctor and had a blood test.

The result of my blood works said I passed the diabetic qualification examination that aside from the medicines prescribed to me, I also need to change my lifestyle and diet. Suddenly I cannot eat rice the way I used to. For my own sake, I need to do what the doctor said, but I am more worried about the "still hungry feeling" after every meal because I am so used to eat rice without limit.

If we can't completely get rid of rice, we can shift to colored rice or brown which is considered healthy and has a lower glycemic index. Glycemic index is the impact of the food on the blood sugar, so the lower the GI of the food you eat, the smaller of its impact to your blood sugar.

When I converted to colored rice, I also limit myself to two cups of rice per day or even less. And based on my experience after a month, I lose weight and my blood sugar is already back to normal and became more manageable.

Colored Rice

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Red RiceBrown riceBlack rice
Red Rice
Red Rice | Source
Brown rice
Brown rice | Source
Black rice
Black rice | Source


Chayote boiled and stir fried
Chayote boiled and stir fried | Source

A Change of Lifestyle is Required

I know I need to lessen rice in my diet. To support that I should have a healthy replacement which will make me feel full but will not make me gain pounds or make my blood sugar rise to the highest level. The best alternatives are always vegetables.

And I remember how Korean meals are being served. Aside from the main meal, They also serve four or five side dishes, that compliment the tastes of one another. My Idea of preparing more side dishes was inspired by my fondness for Korean Cuisine, but my flavor and style will be completely different because I will be including not only Asian flavors but European and American flavors as well.

With these side dishes as part of my meal, I will need to convince my self that my huge craving for rice will be minimized. I will need to embrace the reality that I can no longer indulge in rice but I can eat lots of veggies, which are the healthier substitute.

Thinking of what side dishes to cook every day became an enjoyable challenge. It impact overpowers the sadness that I am shifting to a healthy diet so that I can manage my ailment well.

It is an advantage that I love to cook, and going to market every morning is a very refreshing activity. I realized there are too many inexpensive vegetables that can be so delicious and yet very healthy.

Meal with more than one side dish

My Meal with side dishes
My Meal with side dishes | Source

List of the Vegetables That I Frequently Used For My Side Dishes (in any order)

Cooking Procedures
1. Okra
Calamansi Juice/Vinegar Mixture
2. Chayote
Boiled and Stir fried
Olive oil, Herbs and spice, Parmesan cheese
3. Camote Tops
Vinegar with garlic
4. Cucumber
No need to cook
None, Salt and Vinegar is optional
5. Jicama
No need to cook
None, Salt and Vinegar is optional
6. Botton Mushroom
Stir Fried
Garlic, Olive oil, Sesame Oil, Salt and pepper, Herbs
7. Water Spinach
Boiled and Stir fried
Olive oil, Sesame oil, Salt and pepper, Parmesan Cheese
8. Cabbage
Olive oil, Sesame Oil, Garlic, Onions,Tomatoes
9. Upo or Bottle Gourd
Canola Oil, Salt and pepper, mixed seasoning
10. Cauliflower
Boiled/Stir fried
Salt, Olive oil, Herbs and Spices
11. Pechay or Chinese White Cabbage
Canola Oil, Garlic, Onions, mixed seasonings
12. Shitake Mushroom
Boiled and Stir Fried
Chicken Broth, Garlic, Olive oil, Salt and pepper
13. Squash Blossom
Boiled/ mixed with egg
Mixed seasoning, Parmesan Cheese
14. Alugbati or Malabar Spinach
Mixed with Vinegar Mixture
15 Radish
Canola Oil, Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes.
16 Bitter Gourd
Canoral Oil, Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes, Scrambled Egg
17. Popeye Spinach
Canola Oil, Garlic, Onions, with botton mushrooms and shitake mushroom

These are flexible vegetables, simple, healthy and delicious.

What I Did with the Vegetables

I did not do anything magical, I used ordinary ingredients and spices available at home and combined them with my distinctive taste, but there are limitations that I need to oblige for health reasons, so I listed down my personal rules or guide, especially before preparing my side dishes.

Points to Remember Before Preparing My Side Dishes

1. Choose vegetables that are very low in carbohydrates, preferably green and leafy veggies.

2. Side dishes should not be too salty

3. Sweet side dishes are discouraged unless Stevia instead of sugar was used to provide the sweet taste

4. It should be tasty and healthy at the same time

5. All must be boiled or grilled

6. I can stir fry my veggies but I shall only use healthy oils olive oil, canola oil etc.

7. Cook time must not be longer than 10 minutes or maximum of 5 minutes or less.

My cooking companion
My cooking companion | Source

My Must Haves

I use Healthy oils like Canola Oil and Olive oil for stir frying. I alternately use the two because Olive oil is very expensive. I also use sesame oil because it really does wonderful taste to a simple vegetable especially when you add it after stir frying.

All herbs and spices I use when cooking pasta and pasta sauces, I also used in my side dishes. So even the cheap common vegetables that the elite called veggies for the poor, was given a gourmet packaging, and I just love it.

I love to add cheese to my side dishes especially those who were stir fried. Luckily I have a fresh parmesan cheese which was a gift from highschool best friend when she went home to the Philippines from Italy.

My Side Dishes

Not all veggies that I used in my side dishes have recipes. Because some are good already after simmering, and have a fantastic boost to appetite when dipped to a Vinegar mixture. Other vegetables can be eaten right after you peeled and washed it.

My Side Dishes Categories

1. Veggies that I just boiled then soaked to a Vinegar Mixture

2. Veggies that I just need to peel and they are ready to eat ex. Cucumber and Jicama

3. Veggies that I Combined with other Veggies, either I boil it or stir fry.


Click thumbnail to view full-size

I just boiled this vegetable and to add flavor, I soak this to vinegar mixture that I prepared while the veggies were still boiling. If I just want a sour taste, I just add calamansi juice directly to the Okra, then eat this with fried fish.

My Vinegar Mixture
My Vinegar Mixture | Source

Vinegar Mixture

A Vinegar mixture is a kind of dipper that uses vinegar as the main ingredients. It is combined with ordinary spices or herbs available at home such as soy sauce, chopped garlic,onions, a teaspoon of calamansi, salt and pepper, seasoning, herbs and spices..


Chayote is often a replacement vegetable for our Tinola if green papaya is not available. My auntie used to just saute it with ground meat, onions, and garlic. As a side dish, I just simmered it in water with broth, then stir fried using olive oil. I added herbs and spice like Basil and thyme, then I added grated fresh parmesan cheese.

Camote Tops

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Raw | Source

Camote Tops

Just like the Okra, I just boiled this veggie and added it to vinegar mixture.



Cucumber is itself a side dish. All I need to do is to peel (or don't peel it your choice) and slice it, and it is ready. In my case, I removed the seed if it is quite bigger and matured. Looks and tastes great with Chicken Hainanese.

Click thumbnail to view full-size


Like the Cucumber, Jicama does not need cooking but it must be peeled first before eating. it is quite tasteless but I a good neutralizer to some strong food flavors. It is a good snack too if you feel hungry in between meals.

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Button mushroom  combined with SpinachSimply stir fried with gaic powder and other herbs amd spices
Button mushroom  combined with Spinach
Button mushroom combined with Spinach | Source
Simply stir fried with gaic powder and other herbs amd spices
Simply stir fried with gaic powder and other herbs amd spices | Source

Button Mushroom

I just love mushroom they are so flexible, you can either cook it alone as side dishes or you can combine it with other veggies and become like a replacement of meat.

You can saute it in garlic or use garlic powder while stir frying it in olive oil. you can add herbs and spices and a grated fresh parmesan cheese, and if you want more kick in taste, add a little of sesame oil...

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kang kong or Water spinach
Kang kong or Water spinach
Kang kong or Water spinach | Source

Water Spinach or Kang Kong

There are so many that we can do with kangkong, We always included it in our famous Filipino dish called Sinigang sa Sampaloc, or Sinigang in Tamarind Broth. As a side dish, you can just boil it, then when cooked, add kalamansi juice, then you already have a side dish the goes well with fried fish. In my case I sauteed it in onions and tomatoes, then I added grated fresh parmesan cheese, then add a little teaspoon of Sesame oil or depends on your taste.

One of the best first times that I did in creating my side dishes is when I combined Kangkong with mushroom whether Shitake mushroom or Button mushroom. Aside from the fact that with mushroom, our humble kangkong came out with a gourmet packaging, I am proud to say that together they taste good.

First I just sauteed onions and garlic, then I added the mushroom, then the kangkong, add or pour herbs and spices generously, add fresh parmesan cheese or any cheese available, then your choice to add sesame oil... this makes my dieting more exciting.

Sauteed Cabbage
Sauteed Cabbage | Source


I did not think much with what to do with cabbage, I mean so far, I am not thinking of unique way to cook it or fuse it with another veggies for the first time.

I just sliced or cut it into small squares. Then I sauteed it with Onions, garlic and tomatoes. I added seasoning and herbs and spices for a flavor twists. It was a good side dish too and you can make a lot with one small head of it.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sauteed UpoUpo or Bottle Gourd
Sauteed Upo
Sauteed Upo | Source
Upo or Bottle Gourd
Upo or Bottle Gourd | Source

Upo or Bottle Gourd

This is one of the vegetables that I came to like only recently. I like it when my Aunt sauteed it with ground pork. I did the same but since I temporarily stopped myself from eating pork and beef, I used ground chicken meat instead.

I sauteed it in onion and garlic and I decided to add more tomatoes so it will be a combination of green and red. Then I added the ground chicken meat, seasoning and spices according to my taste or what is required of me since I'm on a healthy diet.

Stir fried Cauliflower
Stir fried Cauliflower | Source


This is probably one of my most expensive vegetable and yet one of the easiest to prepare. I boiled it gently first before the quick stir-frying using olive oil. lavishly added fresh parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, ground pepper, and a teaspoon of sesame oil. Eating it alone right after boiling is good too, with a little salt it is already very delicious. Add-ons are just for variety.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Shitake Mushroom

My favorite. I just bought the dried one by Jams. Then I soaked in water until it is soft again and bigger. I sliced it according to its role that it is going to play in my cooking.

Bigger cuts when it is the main ingredients. The one above is very simple. First I boiled in a water with broth (beef or chicken or whichever is available), then I sauteed it to lots of minced garlic. Pepper, herbs and spices, and grated fresh parmesan cheese. I tell you it will give a different taste to your set of side dishes and you will just love to eat without missing the real meat.

I cut or sliced it in the smaller piece if I am going to combine it with my green leafy veggies, or as other veggies in my vegetable omelet overload.

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Combined with other Veggies.Fresh Flower of Squash
Combined with other Veggies.
Combined with other Veggies. | Source
Fresh Flower of Squash
Fresh Flower of Squash | Source

Squash Blossom

I am not familiar with this flower vegetable so I asked the vendor's opinion on how they cook this flower. You can cook this flowers in many ways you can, just like the other vegetables. You can include this in your vegetable omelet, or boil it together with other vegetables, and when already cooked you can add herbs and spices, and you now have an additional side dish in your collection.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sauteed Pechay with chicken ground meatRaw Pechay
Sauteed Pechay with chicken ground meat
Sauteed Pechay with chicken ground meat | Source
Raw Pechay
Raw Pechay | Source


This vegetable is easy to prepare because you can just slice it into smaller pieces and you can saute it and combine it with meat or other vegetables too. What I did is the simplest I guess, I just sauteed it with the usual onions, garlic then instead of pork I used ground chicken meat. Eating a lot of this will make you feel full you won't ask for extra rice anymore.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Boiled Alugbati soaked in vinegar mixture.Raw Alugbati or also know as Basella, Malabar spinach
Boiled Alugbati soaked in vinegar mixture.
Boiled Alugbati soaked in vinegar mixture. | Source
Raw Alugbati or also know as Basella, Malabar spinach
Raw Alugbati or also know as Basella, Malabar spinach | Source

Alugbati or Basella, Malabar Spinach

Cooking this vegetable for the first time, all I want to do is to boil it and soaked it in a vinegar mixture. Any vegetable when soaked in the vinegar mixture can boost appetite. But as I evolved cooking my side dishes, I became more and more confident in combining veggies that are quite unlikely to be combined, and later on, found out that even veggies from two different worlds can taste pleasant together.

I boiled it together with Okra and other leafy vegetables, I even included it in my vegetable omelet and sauteed it with mushrooms.

 sauteed Radish
sauteed Radish | Source


This is one of my favorites but I am not sure if this is as flexible as other veggies that I used in my side dishes. I came to like it in our pork in Tamarind soup or Sinigang sa sampaloc na baboy, It can be eaten raw but I haven't tried yet.

In our family, we just used it in our tamarind soup, but some people also sauteed this with the usual onions, garlic, and tomatoes, again instead of pork I used chicken ground meat. If you want to be more elaborate you can add shrimp. Add spices as usual.

Ampalaya sauteed in tomatoes, with organic egg
Ampalaya sauteed in tomatoes, with organic egg | Source

Bitter Gourd Sauteed in Onions, Garlic

I almost forgot that this is the best vegetable for me. We sauteed this vegetable most of the time, but it varies depending on the meat or whether this will have sauce or simply dry. What I did with mine has I sauteed it with the usual onion, garlic and more tomatoes for color contrast. Then I added scrambled organic egg and mixed it evenly.

I also combined it with ground chicken meat, while cousins used pork and shrimp. Again your choice.

Spinach with 2 mushrooms
Spinach with 2 mushrooms | Source

Spinach and Double Mushroom

This is my latest and my favorite so far. I saw this Popeye Spinach for the first time and the vendor told me to try it. I asked my friend if she has a recipe for this and she told me to saute it with onions, and she said I should add mushroom.

Since I have shitake mushroom and button mushroom I decided to use both. I sauteed it in onions and the 2 mushrooms and gave it time to blend, then I added the spinach. I used herbs and spices, as usual, then I added grated fresh parmesan cheese while still cooking. I just love the taste... All my favorites in one.

Losing Weight After a Month

I was successful with my struggle to bring back my blood sugar to normal and I lose weight, I started wearing clothes when I was in smaller size, and I feel light. So what happened exactly? I just followed strictly what my doctor told me to do, limit my rice intake, to be assured of health benefits I converted to brown rice and limit myself to two cups per day, to make it possible, with the meals I prepared vegetable side dishes which slowly took away my cravings or desire to eat unlimited rice.

And I never enjoyed cooking as much as I am enjoying it these days. I never starved myself and always have my favorites eggs and cheese in my diet and yet it has no harmful effect on me. I ate as many side dishes that I want but I realized as I get involved in my diet, I am having a hard time finishing my meal, if before I have three vegetable side dishes, now I am contented with one, and I never crave for more rice anymore.

All I need to do is to maintain this lifestyle. I will probably have cheat days but looking back, I don't want to return anymore to my life when I can't stop myself from eating rice for breakfast, lunch, siesta, dinner and even at midnight snack. I will never eat pork the way I ate it before. I love fried pork with its crunchy fat and skin, but since those are forbidden because of my ailment, I would rather not eat pork if I can't eat the delicious fat.

Still, the best answer for getting old is living healthily and happily...

This picture was Taken in January 2018
This picture was Taken in January 2018
This picture was taken in April
This picture was taken in April

© 2018 Maria Cecilia


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