Meadville Tribune

July 20, 2009

OUR HEALTH(Local): Healthy summer side dishes -Rosanne Rust

By Rosanne Rust

Summer is in full swing. Taking care of your health needs is a full time job, and do to it properly, you cannot make excuses every time a barbeque, graduation party, or picnic rolls around, but you can still have fun and enjoy what you eat.

The main dish at a picnic or barbeque is usually not so bad. Sure hot dogs are not the best food in the world, but if you enjoy them, and only eat one, fine. The important thing is to balance out the not-so-nutritious foods with more nutritious ones. If you have high blood cholesterol, you can also try some of the turkey dogs or “light” version hot dogs. Hamburgers or ribs can also fit into a healthy diet in moderation. Choose extra lean ground beef or buffalo for your burgers whenever possible, and try more chicken barbeque recipes for your cookouts too.

So with the entrée in check, take a new look at your side dishes. You can easily rack up hundreds of calories on high fat side dishes such as traditional macaroni salads, coleslaw, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, or high sugar gelatin-type salads. So if you are in charge of the next gathering, offer some healthy side dishes for everybody’s sake. Try a light new recipe that can help balance out the meat portion of the barbeque, and offer your guests the vitamins, minerals and fiber they need. When you look through recipes, look for some that include some fresh vegetables, or incorporate your own chopped veggies into dishes. Try potato salads or coleslaw that uses a vinegar and oil-based dressing instead of the creamy type.

In addition, simple is often best. Don’t have time to go to a lot of trouble? Just put out a bowl of freshly washed plums, peaches, grapes and cherries for everyone to grab. The traditional watermelon slices are delicious and nutritious too.

Lighten up. Enjoy a healthy and tasteful summer.

©Rosanne Rust 2009

Rust is a licensed, registered dietitian and nutrition coach who has a private practice in Meadville ( She is a nutrition instructor for Penn State’s World Campus and a licensed provider for Real Living Nutrition Services®. For more information about her effective and affordable online weight loss counseling service, visit her Web page at or contact her at

Rosanne’s Couscous with Zucchini Salad

This colorful, simple dish is a great side for grilled chicken.

1/4 to 1/2 onion, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 small to medium zucchini, diced with skin

Olive oil

1 1/2 cups instant whole wheat (or regular) couscous

2 3/4 cups water

2 ounces goat or feta cheese, crumbled

• Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a nonstick skillet to heat. Sauté garlic, onion and pepper until tender. Set aside in small bowl.

• Wash zucchini and dice into small pieces. Stir-fry zucchini in same skillet with another bit of olive oil (about 2 teaspoons) for three minutes, until bright colored, and just tender. Do not overcook. Remove from heat.

• Prepare couscous according to package (or, simply heat water to boil in microwave, about 2 minutes, and pour couscous into boiling water. Let sit, uncovered, for five minutes until water is absorbed. Salt/season to taste. You can also substitute chicken broth for the water). Fluff with fork.

• In medium serving bowl, toss vegetables and crumbled goat or feta cheese with couscous and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can also be eaten at room temperature.