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Healthier finger food recipes: Brussels in blankets and Buffalo cucumber boats

Joy Bauer gives hors d'oeuvres a healthy makeover with Brussels sprouts in turkey bacon blankets, buffalo cucumber boats and garlicky edamame.
/ Source: TODAY

I'm giving side dishes the center-stage spotlight they deserve. After all, they're a terrific vehicle for nutrient-rich veggies and whole grains, and they help transform ho-hum entrees into mouthwatering meals. Here are three scrumptious recipes that are all simple to make, packed with nutritious ingredients and will truly make your meal sing.

Buffalo Cucumber Boats

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

If you love blue cheese and hot sauce, then this satisfying salad is calling your name. It's easy to whip up and fun to gobble down. This crunchy concoction is filled with flavor, spice and, of course, the star ingredient: cucumber. Jam-packed with water and potassium, this green veggie can help you beat bloat and also keep your skin healthy and hydrated. And did I mention you can enjoy an entire Buffalo boat for 12 grams of protein, 4 grams of filling fiber, and only 180 calories? Pack your appetite and get on board!

Get the recipe here.

Garlic-Sesame Edamame

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

If you don't have a bag of frozen edamame in your freezer, I recommend adding it to your grocery list right now. I'm a fan of these nutrient-rich soybeans because they're a stellar source of fiber and plant-based protein — meaning they'll help you walk away from your meal feeling full and satisfied. This spicy recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat 'em because it takes a mere five minutes to make and looks like a gourmet dish you'd order at a restaurant. Prepare them in the pod since the shells will slow down your pace and you'll be able to savor every tasty bite.

Get the recipe here.

Brussels in Blankets

These super sprouts are so cute, they're nearly irresistible. I've served them to super finicky eaters, and even they wind up popping more than a few in their mouths. This can be a side dish or an appetizer, and it's a cinch to make — only three ingredients (and one of them is turkey bacon!). You can't beat that. Cook up a batch any time you want your family to get a healthful dose of cancer-fighting properties and soluble fiber to stabilize blood sugar and mood.

For healthy tips, follow Joy on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and check out her cookbook "Joy's Simple Food Remedies: Tasty Cures for Whatever's Ailing You."