Vegetables are one of those foods people either love or hate. The problem with hating vegetables is that they are arguably the most health-promoting food group on the planet. If you aren’t eating vegetables, you aren’t getting all their amazing components like fiber, antioxidants, and other powerful phytochemicals. My husband and son hate vegetables. So over the years, I have gotten really creative to hiding them in their favorite foods. Check out my top 10 creative way to sneak in vegetables
1. Add veggies you almost like to dishes you already love.
Layer zucchini slices, chopped spinach, or cooked carrots into lasagna. Stir broccoli florets into macaroni and cheese. Toss whatever veggies you like (tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus) into an omelet or quesadilla.
Recipe: Taco Pork Skillet
2. Try them in soup.
Embellish your favorite soups with added veggies. Some homemade soups already contain a nice amount of vegetables, but most canned and commercial choices can stand to have their veggie quota bumped up. I love adding carrots to chicken noodle soup, and edamame or green beans to minestrone. Just add the raw or frozen vegetables while you are cooking or heating the soup.
3. Slip them into salads.
Load your salads with all the veggies you enjoy (or at least tolerate). The options include cucumber, grated carrots, zucchini, green beans, onions, radishes, jicama, tomato, broccoli or cauliflower florets. You can even use spinach leaves instead of lettuce.
4. Serve them raw.
Raw veggies can be more appetizing than their cooked counterparts to people who aren’t crazy about vegetables. The flavors of raw veggies can be milder than those of cooked ones. And the texture is crispy, rather than mushy.
Recipe: The Ultimate Mason Jar Salad Tutorial & Recipes
5. Sneak them into spaghetti and pizza.
Most people like spaghetti and pizza, which makes them a good place to sneak in some vegetables. Chop any vegetables your family likes (zucchini, onions, eggplant, broccoli, celery, carrots) and add them to the spaghetti sauce. The smaller you chop them, the less likely anyone will notice that they’re there. Vegetables can also be a tempting topping for your pizza, adding fiber and nutrients. Any combination of the following will work well: fresh tomato, onion, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, artichoke hearts, fresh basil leaves, and chopped spinach or use a spirilizer to make your own vegetti.
6. Drink your vegetables.
There are several good veggie juices on the market (V-8 or carrot juice), even veggie-fruit juice blends that taste great. Or, create your own veggie blend juice by blending some carrot juice with a fruit juice (like mango, tangerine, or orange juice).
Recipe: Green Smoothie
7. Increase the fun factor.
Let’s face it: some vegetables are just more fun to eat than others. Corn on the cob (especially when grilled) continues to be fun into adulthood. So are veggie kabobs, and celery sticks filled with natural peanut butter or light cream cheese. And a zucchini half, tomato, bell pepper, or portobello mushroom stuffed with a savory filling can be as elegant as it is fun.
Recipe: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
8.. Know how to cook the stronger flavored veggies.
The strongest tasting (and smelling) vegetables are those in the cruciferous family, along with some greens, and raw eggplant. Keep in mind that generally, the longer you cook these veggies, the stronger their odor and flavor will be. The exception is eggplant, which becomes milder with cooking. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. Some research has found that people who dislike cruciferous vegetables tend to have a sensitivity for tasting a substance known as PROP (a bitter tasting component). To cut the bitterness of these veggies, there a few tricks you can have up your sleeve. Add a little olive oil (or other fat) when stir-frying or sauteing; add something salty or sour (like a drizzle of light soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, lemon, or shredded Parmesan); or glaze the vegetables with something sweet (a small spoonful of honey or orange marmalade).
Recipe: Flank Steak with Baked Rutabaga Fries
9: Try them where you least expect them.
You might be surprised at how well vegetables can complement the featured ingredients in many of your favorite foods. Roasted red pepper, roasted or sun-dried tomato, and/or grilled eggplant all work well in hot or cold sandwiches. Raw tomato, spinach leaves, fresh basil, grated carrots, sprouts, sliced or grated zucchini, shredded cabbage (green or purple) go well in sandwiches, wraps, and pitas. Add grated or finely chopped vegetables to meatloaf, pasta fillings (such as manicotti), and fillings for Mexican entree fillings like tacos, enchiladas, and flautas.
10: It’s all about the cheese.
When all else fails, you can always sprinkle a little grated, reduced-fat cheese over the top. If cheese sauce is more your style, drizzle it over vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower and suddenly, it’s a whole different ballgame.