Most of us want to eat more vegetables, but some of us can only stand so much steamed asparagus and carrots & hummus. Especially if you're not a big fan of vegetables, it can be tough to get them into your diet. Fear not, there are some unique and delicious ways to sneak more vegetables into your favorite foods without feeling like you're eating them!
1. Hide veggies in Mac and cheese
Making a cheese sauce is a perfect opportunity to sneak in some veggie purees. Vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potato, or butternut squash have a creamy consistency when pureed and are very versatile, making for a perfect creamy base for a cheese sauce. For additional nutritional value, try swapping traditional white pasta for whole wheat pasta, brown rice pasta, or quinoa pasta. Bonus points if you can fool your kids!
Check out this recipe for Kraft-Style Mac & Cheese made with cauliflower and sweet potato from "Nikki Dinki Cooking". Say what?! You read that right!
2. Cauliflower Rice
It's no wonder cauliflower rice has gotten so much recognition lately. Simply pulsing the raw florets in a food processor or grating with a box grater creates little rice-sized pieces that can be flavored just like all your favorite rice dishes. If you're not up for the full cauli-swap, you can add cauliflower rice to normal rice to add more volume and more nutrients. The cauliflower rice can be enjoyed either raw or heated up in a pan until tender.
3. Adding zucchini into baked goods
Grated zucchini is an excellent way to add nutritional value to your baked goods. The thinner you grate the zucchini, the less you can detect it. Hidden in flavorful baked goods, you'd never even notice it!
Try this incredible "Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake" by Dani Spies at 'Clean & Delicious'. It has the taste and texture of a Devil's Food Cake!
4. Add leafy greens to your smoothies
This one's no surprise. Turning your smoothies green has been a thing for quite some time. If you're still skeptical about it, its really one of the easiest ways you can get more vegetables in. Between fruits, protein powder, peanut butter, and other flavorful smoothie ingredients, you can't taste the leafy greens. You don't have to stop at leafy greens, cucumbers, zucchini, and sweet potato all make great additions to smoothies!
5. Zoodles or other veggie noodles
Looking to healthify your favorite pasta recipes? All you need is a spiralizer and a vegetable. Most people opt for zucchini noodles (fun fact: zucchini is actually a fruit), but get creative! Try sweet potato noodles, yellow squash noodles, carrot noodles, etc. Don't have a spiralizer, spaghetti squash is a winner when it comes to pasta dishes. You can always add your veggie noodles to regular pasta to add volume and variety.
6. Use lettuce for wraps
If you're watching your carb intake, lettuce can make a good substitute. Of course, its not comparable to bread, but as its own entity, lettuce wraps are a tasty way to get some greens in. Individual romaine lettuce are a great replacement for "taco shells", and softer lettuces like iceberg or butter lettuce can be wrapped around your sandwich/wrap makings.
7. Add vegetable purees to marinara sauce
Just like the veggie cheese sauce for mac and cheese, you can easily sneak some purees into your tomato sauce. Pumpkin puree or butternut squash add some creaminess without changing the flavor much. Added plus: they also make the sauce less acidic! More veggies now, less heartburn later!
8. Veggie fries
Looking for a crunchy snack or side dish? Try oven-baking your veggies into crispy "fries".
Check out some of these oven-fries 5 ways by Kelli Foster at 'The Kitchn':
9. Pumpkin puree as a fat replacement in baked goods
Low in both calories and fat, but high in vitamin A and C, pumpkin makes for an excellent and versatile fat replacement in a variety of baked goods. The general guideline is for, the ratio is one to one: so 1 cup of oil can be replaced by 1 cup of pumpkin puree. To replace butter, multiply the amount of butter in the recipe by 3/4. Ex: If a recipe calls for one cup of butter, use 3/4 cup puree in its place.
10. Make chocolate pudding with avocado
Creamy and versatile avocado puree makes for a great pudding base. Here's a basic, easy chocolate avocado pudding recipe from 'Two Peas & Their Pod'.
Soup is probably one of the most obvious ways you can get more veggies in. But besides simply adding chopped vegetables into your soup, pureed vegetables like butternut squash, carrot, and pumpkin can be great to add to the broth for creamier vegetable soups.
12. Add parsnips or cauliflower to mashed potatoes
Try adding some pureed cauliflower or parsnips to your mashed potatoes. Have your potatoes and vegetables too all in one dish! If you're feeling even more adventurous, you can try blending in some white beans. The creaminess will allow you to cut back on some of the butter. Add extra spices like garlic and rosemary to boost the flavor.
13. Broccoli or cauli-tots
If you're looking for a healthier spin on tater tots, you'll love the idea of broccoli tots or cauliflower tots. Check out this easy recipe for 5-Ingredient Baked Cauliflower Tots by Kelly at 'Just a Taste'! This recipe is also great for kids!
Frittatas are super fun to customize with different vegetables. If you're not familiar, frittatas are an Italian egg-based dish, similar to omelette or crustless quiche, baked in the oven. Just like an omelette, it can be bulked up with lots of different vegetables making for a super healthy breakfast.
15. Make cauliflower pizza crust
If you haven't noticed by now, cauliflower is incredibly versatile. If you haven't tried cauliflower crust pizza yet, what are you waiting for? Yes, it's a little bit tedious and time consuming, but the end product is out of this world. Pro tip: after steaming your cauliflower, use a dish towel or cheesecloth to wring as much water out of the cauliflower as possible. This will prevent a mushy crust!
What's your favorite way to sneak veggies in?