Vegetables are one of the most important staples of a high quality diet. Packed with phytonutrients that our bodies need for fighting diseases like cancer, controlling blood sugar, and a gazillion other processes that we haven’t even come close to comprehending, veggies should be the number one food group of our daily meals (at least 5 servings per day).
But if you’re like I was, you might hate the flavor or texture. Don’t hate! Learn to love them like I did, by being sneaky with yourself! Try these simple sneaks and learn to love your daily vegetables.
Load Up On Salsa
Pretty much everyone loves salsa, right? If you do, you’ll be thrilled to know that fresh salsa is excellent for your health. Traditional salsa is packed with the antioxidant lycopene from tomatoes, amongst other beneficial nutrients. Scramble 1/2 a cup with eggs, pour it on top of grilled chicken, or top a side of veggies with it.
When you eat out, you usually have the option to sub out your side dishes (typically fries or something else low quality) with a side salad. Do it! Make sure you go easy on the cheese and croutons, and use a balsamic vinaigrette or oil and vinegar instead of
chemicals creamy dressing.
Chop ‘Em Up and Mix ‘Em In
Chop your veggies up very fine, and mix them into just about anything. I like to do this with broccoli, kale, or spinach in meatballs or on pizza. The finer the veggies, the less the texture will bother you if texture is the issue.
Steam vegetables and puree them in the blender or food processor, and add them to just about any dish. I like to do this with butternut squash and shredded chicken, but you could also add the puree to burger patties, pasta dishes, meatballs, or make soups.
Eat Raw Vegetables Like Chips and Dip
Raw vegetables are crispy like chips, and make excellent dipping foods. Dip baby carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, broccoli or cauliflower in hummus, greek yogurt (see this post for ideas on greek yogurt dips), guacamole, or even the classic combo of celery and peanut butter.
With the sweetness of fruit added, most vegetable flavors can be neutralized or covered completely in a blended smoothie. As a last resort, you can juice your vegetables in a juicer, although you’ll be missing out on all the fiber (read more here).
Roast or Grill Them
If you think you hate vegetables, try them roasted in the oven or grilled with a touch of olive oil, minced garlic and sliced onions. This was a big turning point for me and my hatred of green food….yum.
Do you like eggs? Try scrambling vegetables in with your eggs in the mornings. I like red peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spinach in mine.
Make Your Own Salad Bar
Every week we load up on fresh produce, then chop it all up and store it in the refrigerator. Each day, we then set it all out into our own little salad bar for lunch. We get at least 2 veggie servings a day this way, and after the initial prep each week, it’s ridiculously easy.
Stuff bell peppers, acorn or butternut squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, artichokes, and zucchini with a mixture of meat and more veggies, nuts, or a sprinkle of cheese. Bake and serve.
Take your pureed vegetables from earlier and make a creamy sauce to top your entree with. For example, puree roasted red peppers and greek yogurt, heat and serve on top of chicken. Search recipe sites like Allrecipes for ideas.
Slice veggies like zucchini, sweet potatoes, and beets super thin and bake or grill them into chips. Even lettuce like kale can be baked into crisps, just add a little sea salt and whatever other seasoning you enjoy.
Sub For Pasta and Rice
Roast spaghetti squash for 25-30 minutes, and simply scrape it with a fork and you have perfect pasta “noodles”. Thin sliced zucchini, summer squash, and eggplant work too. I also use a food processor to “rice” cauliflower and sub it in any dish that calls for rice, even sushi.
Spices-Learn About It
Learn to love spices as they will make just about any vegetable taste a gazillion times better. Favorites of ours are sea salt, garlic powder, thyme, sage, paprika, cayenne pepper, and crushed red pepper.
Use a dark green leaf (collards and butter lettuce are a favorite for this) to wrap instead of tortillas, like in tacos, burritos, or sandwiches.
Try New Vegetables When You’re Hungry
I can’t tell you how many vegetables I’ve learned to love because I was so hungry and just about anything would have tasted great. Eating when you’re really hungry will create a positive association with the new vegetable in your brain, so take advantage of this.
For many, the hatred of vegetables is a texture more than a taste issue. Try mashing your cooked veggies, like sweet potato, cauliflower, and butternut squash with some spices.
Sub Spinach for Cheese
When cooked, spinach has a similar texture to cheese. You can sub a big handful of it for cheese in just about any dish. Ideas – omelets, pastas, pizza, burgers and sandwiches.
Stuff a Pita
For lunch, load up a whole wheat pita with leafy greens, tomatoes, sliced bell peppers, avocado, onion, alfalfa sprouts, sliced carrots, etc. Add grilled chicken if you like.
When you’re making dinner, leave a plate of raw veggies out on the table for an appetizer for the entire family. This way you’ll get an entire serving of veggies in before your meal even begins.
How do you get your daily dose of vegetables?