While there are some of us who geek out on all things green, for many of us, it’s a harder task to get our five servings of veggies a day. The good news? We’ve got 10 ways to sneak vegetables from zucchini to cauliflower into almost every meal. Think your picky eater won’t like kale?
While there are some of us who geek out on all things green, for many of us, it's a harder task to get our five servings of veggies a day. The good news? We've got 10 ways to sneak vegetables from zucchini to cauliflower into almost every meal. Think your picky eater won't like kale? Crispy homemade kale chips with a little sea salt and dusting of Parmesan cheese will make them a believer. Are you a sworn carb lover? That doesn't mean you can't have your pasta and veggies at the same time. Get a spiralizer and you can make "noodles" out of everything from sweet potatoes to parsnips. Read on for more creative ideas.
1. Pretend Itâ€™s Pasta
"Spiralize vegetables like zucchini and carrots and use them as pasta substitutes," says Inspiralized.com's Ali Maffucci. "You'll be eating your favorite pasta sauce, but on a bed of vegetables that taste just like pasta." In addition to zucchini and carrot, vegetables like daikon radish, kohlrabi, turnip, butternut squash, sweet potato, potato and broccoli stalks work well. Just make sure each is at least 1.5 inches in diameter.
2. Meat-ify Them
Veggie burgers are the perfect gateway meal for anyone who's vegetable shy, but rather than overloading on soy, look for patties that are made with lots of produce, beans and grains like Dr. Praeger's or Field Roast. Maffucci also suggests using ground veggies in meatballs or to make burgers. "Pulse raw broccoli florets in a food processor and then mix them into meatball mixes to help bind together the other ingredients," she says. "Not only will they add green color to your foods, but it will add more nutrients and veggies into your meatball. I love this trick with salmon meatballs." Mushrooms pair well with red meat, while cauliflower adds texture to ground pork and turkey.
3. Slice Then Fry Them
Even the pickiest eaters will have a hard time passing these up. Take a mandolin or sharp knife and thinly slice zucchini, carrot, hearts of palm or eggplant, or opt for whole green beans or asparagus spears, lightly bread with panko breadcrumbs, and bake until crispy. Then pair with your favorite dipper.
4. Slide Them Into Soup
Forget chopped veggies in your chicken soup. Instead, add pureed tomatoes, squash, cauliflower or potato. It will act as a non-flour, non-cream thickening agent. What's more, you will get an added dose of nutrition. One serving, or 100 grams, of cauliflower contains 10% of your daily fiber, while one cup of tomatoes offers 32% of your daily vitamin C.
5. Sub Them for Mayo
"Instead of using mayonnaise or Greek yogurt as spreads, mash avocado and use it in their place," says Maffucci. "To make the avocado creamier, use a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or some Dijon mustard or even a tablespoon or two of lime or lemon, depending on what dish you're making." Greens like spinach and kale can be made into pesto and spread on sandwiches, as can pureed vegetables like roasted red peppers or jarred artichoke hearts or even a spread like baba ghanoush made with eggplants.
6. Grate Them
When vegetables are reduced to wisps, it's easier to incorporate them into meals. Jennifer Che, blogger behind Tiny Urban Kitchen, adds grated zucchini to chili. "It adds vegetables in a way that's almost imperceptible," she says. Other produce perfect for grating? Root vegetables like carrots and parsnips, broccoli stalks and cabbage.
7. Make Them Into a Sauce
We love Maffucci's recipe for creamy cauliflower sauce: "Boil cauliflower florets and then blend them together with almond milk, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, onions and salt and pepper to make a creamy pasta sauce," she says. Just toss the pasta with the cauliflower sauce, a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water, caramelized onions and chicken. "Or, omit the almond milk for a thicker consistency and save it in the refrigerator to use in pasta salads or to spread on sandwiches, in place of mayonnaise, for a velvety smooth spread." In a pinch, we like adding handfuls of spinach and frozen peas when heating up a jar of marinara sauce.
8. Bake With Them
Pack heart-healthy bran muffins with zucchini and carrots in addition to walnuts and raisins. Beets and sweet potatoes work well too. Not into bready breakfast foods? Sneak some fennel, spinach, avocado, kale or cucumber into your fresh fruit smoothies.
9. Use Them in Place of Bread
Save some carbs and gain some nutrients by subbing in sturdy greens like kale, Bibb lettuce, Swiss chard and collard in sandwiches. Blanch them then pat dry before using or wrap a large leaf in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10-15 seconds. You can also marinate them by massaging some olive oil into the leaves and sticking them in the refrigerator for a few hours. The key is to use one really large and study leaf or, if not, use several leaves as a wrap. Stack two or three then pile on the fixings.
10. Swap Them for Potato Chips
Vegetables like Brussels sprouts, beets, fennel, sweet potato, kale and thinly sliced zucchini make great snacks when dehydrated. You can use a dehydrator, or pop them in the oven at the lowest setting until just beginning to turn golden. Toss with salt and enjoy, or pair with a healthy dipper like hummus or kale pesto.
What Do YOU Think?
What are your tips for getting more servings of vegetables into your meals? What are your tricks for getting veggie-averse people to unwittingly enjoy their greens? Tell us in the comments below!