We all have been told as a child, “You can’t leave the table unless you finish your vegetables!” Though this is not the most effective way to get children to eat vegetables, they had a point about their importance. Packed with nutrients, this food group contains fiber to help with normal digestion and elimination as well as helps with healthy weight loss by filling you up without adding the calories. As dietitians, we would love everyone we work with to be as excited about vegetables as we are but we are not naive nor do we live in a fantasy world. We understand that though vegetables are one of the healthiest foods we can put in our body, it is also one of the least liked foods out there by all ages and populations. So how can we as dietitians help the veggie haters out there accept and consume more vegetables? In this article we will give you FIVE tactical ways you can include vegetables in your diet without knowing they are even there.
- Hide Vegetables In Smoothies
This is a quick and simple way to get at least 1-2 servings of veggies. Choose leafy greens that do not have a distinct flavor like spinach or kale. We personally love adding spinach due to their consistency when blended. You can not taste it nor can you feel the spinach texture in the smoothie. If you like fruits, such as berries or bananas, throw these sweet fruits in your smoothie to mask the taste.
2. Add Chopped Spinach or Kale to Your Spaghetti Sauce
Adding chopped spinach or kale to a pasta sauce is another great way to mask flavor and texture. Because pasta sauce has so many other flavors going on, leafy greens will not even cross your mind when chomping into a bite of spaghetti.
3. Try a Warm Zucchini Noodle “zoodle”/Whole Wheat Noodle Mix
Speaking of pasta and spaghetti, try a zoodle and whole wheat pasta mix. Be sure the zoodles are warm that way they blend right in with the whole wheat pasta. This coupled with leafy greens in the sauce, you can easily get 2 servings of veggies right there.
4. Wrap Em In Bacon
Bacon…nuff said. Our favorite recipe is bacon wrapped asparagus. You can pan sear these or even throw them on the grill for a weekend fiesta! C’mon, anything wrapped in bacon is going to be pure heaven.
5. Hide Vegetables in a Casserole, Rice, OR Mashed Potatoes
Similar to the mechanism behind the pasta sauce, casseroles are a great way to hide veggies because there are so many complex flavors that overpower the vegetable taste. Adding cauliflower to rice and mashed potatoes (½ and ½ mixture) can ensure you get your vegetables without knowing they are even there. You can also add grated broccoli to a cilantro rice and not even know there is broccoli in there.
There you have it! Here are some great ways you can incorporate veggies without knowing they are even in a 10 foot radius of your food. Remember, the end goal is to increase vegetable intake by any means necessary. If that means wrapping them in bacon, that is a step in the right direction. In order to go from a veggie hater to a veggie lover, take baby steps. It does you no good to start cold turkey with chomping down on a raw floret of broccoli or some good ole spinach. Find a vegetable that you like and can tolerate and change up the way you prepare it. So for now, step out of your comfort zone, try something new and let us know how it goes.