Let's face it - most of us aren't necessarily crazy about vegetables, even though they're some of the most important and nutrient-rich foods we can eat. And kids? Forget it. So how do you eat more vegetables without it feeling like a punishment? Below are 15 sneaky tricks to fit more veggies into your whole family's daily meals.
1. You can add leafy green vegetables to practically any fruit smoothie and get away with it. Simply throw a handful of spinach or kale into any type of berry-based smoothie (e.g., strawberry banana, etc.) and you'll hardly taste it at all in the final product.
2. Add veggies into scrambled eggs. Incorporating key veggies such as finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower or spinach into your scrambled egg mixture will keep the texture of the eggs intact while adding an entire serving of vegetables to your meal.
3. Instead of starchy potato chips, try some vegetable-infused snack foods such as kale chips, snap pea crisps or veggie straws. Most supermarkets have these types of munchies available in their organic or natural foods section.
4. Many pasta sauce makers have introduced new veggie-heavy sauces for use on all kinds of pasta-based dishes (e.g., spaghetti, lasagna, etc.). You can try those prepackaged sauces, or chop/puree some fresh vegetables and add them into your own homemade sauce.
5. Speaking of pasta, try "noodle-izing" some of your favorite vegetables using a julienne tool or spiralizer to eat more veggies. To get the satisfaction of eating pasta without the carbs, crank out some fresh and flavorful noodles from cucumber, squash, zucchini, asparagus, etc., then add some chopped veggies into the sauce to pack an additional nutritional punch.
6. Experiment with adding veggies to breakfast goodies, such as zucchini or carrot muffins. You can also try putting together a savory oatmeal by adding sauteed vegetables, salt and pepper to plain oats cooked in water.
7. There's hardly a kid (or adult for that matter) on the planet who will turn down mac-n-cheese, so you're in pretty safe territory if you add some chopped broccoli florets into the macaroni-cheese mix. Just be sure to keep the stems to a minimum, so as to avoid pressing your luck.
8. Instead of regular french fries, serve sweet potato fries seasoned with sea salt. Not only is it a delicious treat, but it also contains generous amounts of Vitamin A (as beta carotene) to help maintain eye health, and fiber to aid in digestion.
9. Casseroles present the perfect opportunity to sneak some extra veggies into a favorite dinner dish. You can add finely shredded zucchini, squash or carrots to practically any casserole without altering the texture or overall flavor of the dish by any noticeable degree.
10. Instead of choosing traditional flour tortilla wraps, try infusing some veggies into the meal by using either a spinach or tomato basil wrap.
11. You can liven up a regular bowl of chili by adding a carrot, butternut squash or sweet potato puree to the recipe.
12. Boost the nutritional value of any baked bread treat by adding vegetables into the mix. For example, zucchini bread is an excellent way to get a generous helping of veggies while enjoying a delicious baked treat.
13. You can smuggle vegetables into chocolate chip cookie dough by way of adding a little bit of sweet potato or carrot puree. This will increase the nutritional content of the cookies without compromising the delicious flavor that you would expect from this sweet treat.
14. Believe it or not, adding a little bit of carrot or unseasoned pumpkin puree into the average sloppy joe sauce will give it a flavorful boost without overpowering it. You can sneak these flavors into your next sloppy joe sauce without anyone being the wiser.
15. Chicken and cheese are always a favorite filling for quesadillas, but have you ever thought about introducing some veggies into the recipe? Try including chopped bell peppers (green or red), corn, scallions, or onions into the filling mix while cutting the cheese content by half.
The above ideas are just a few of the variations you can explore to sneak more vegetables into your regular meals. Don't be afraid to experiment a little, building upon what works and cutting out what doesn't. With a little finesse, you'll learn how to eat more vegetables and develop a menu of foods and meal selections for you and your family that are not only delicious, but healthy as well.