"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Food of the Month: South Side Dishes

Some of the dishes popular within the American South — like barbecue pork, fried chicken, and mashed potatoes — aren't exactly healthy. In fact, studies have linked a Southern-style food plan, wealthy in meat and fried foods, to the next risk of heart disease.

But traditional Southern cuisine also includes a wide range of side dishes based on healthy ingredients, including vegetables, beans, and whole grains. Combined, they’ll make a whole, meat-free meal that's filling and delicious. Try to do two or more of the next together.

spinach. Collard greens are classic, or use other robust greens like kale, chard, or cabbage. Fry in olive oil with chopped garlic. Add a splash of your favorite vinegar and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for extra flavor.

Beans In a saucepan, fry a bit chopped onion and a chopped clove of garlic in olive oil. Add a can of black-eyed peas or pinto beans (rinsed to remove excess salt) and boil for a number of minutes.

Corn bread. Many traditional Southern cornbread recipes include only cornmeal (whole grain) with none white flour or sugar. Some people call for bacon drippings or butter, but you may substitute vegetable oil to make it healthier.

sweet potato. Roast these vivid orange tubers until soft and serve whole or mashed.

Photo: © Lindas Photography/Getty Images