Let’s face it: getting more vegetables into your diet can be a challenge. Maybe you just don’t like the taste of veggies. Or maybe you find them too hard to prepare or simply don’t know how to cook them.
These are valid concerns, but there are plenty of ways to overcome them. If you don’t like the taste of vegetables, it’s possible you just haven’t learned to cook them in a way that brings out their natural flavor. It can be amazingly easy to add veggies to your favorite meals — making their presence almost undetectable, if you wish. And, there are plenty of recipes online that give you creative ways to enjoy vegetables beyond the standard boring plate of cooked carrots.
The following are just a few ideas that can help you add more vegetables into your diet, even if you’re not a veggie-lover or a gourmet cook.
1. Have veggies for breakfast
Get your day started off right by eating vegetables with your morning meal. You can easily add chopped green pepper, spinach, or tomatoes to an omelet or frittata. You can even make savory oatmeal with vegetables: skip the sugar and enjoy it with some cooked egg mixed in.
Don’t have time for omelets or eggs for breakfast? Smoothie lovers may find that kale and spinach mix well into a fresh fruit smoothie for a quick breakfast on-the-go. You can add a lot of greens to a fruit smoothie without impacting the taste much. Once you get used to kale and spinach, experiment a bit more and start adding other greens such as Swiss chard.
2. Mix veggies with your favorite cheese dishes
While cheese gets a reputation as a high-calorie and high-fat food, It’s actually an excellent complement to many different vegetables.
If you are craving a grilled cheese sandwich, for instance, use less cheese than normal and add some of your favorite leafy greens such as spinach or arugula. Sliced tomato also goes well on grilled cheese. Avocado is the newest grilled cheese addition, and its creamy taste blends perfectly with this classic lunch dish. Don’t forget to use whole grain bread, and be generous with the vegetables!
Macaroni and cheese pairs well with vegetables in a number of different ways. Chop up broccoli and cauliflower and mix it right in with the pasta.
You can also puree cooked vegetables and add them right to your pasta sauce, where they will add fiber and nutrition with very little change to the taste and texture you love. Some of the veggies that work well in this way include sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, summer squash, and turnips.
3. Love fries? Use vegetables instead of potatoes
If you love the crisp crunch and savory flavor of french fries, you’re not alone. However, french fries are one of the worst foods you can eat from a nutrition standpoint.
You can satisfy your craving for fries with sliced zucchini, carrots, or green beans. Give them a light spray of olive oil and add some seasoning if you wish. Try this recipe for a quick and easy way to make these healthy and delicious zucchini fries!
4. Try kale chips
For those who love potato chips or crispy crackers, kale chips make an excellent substitute. While some chip lovers may scoff at this substitution, just give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised at how these low-calorie, nutrient-packed chips satisfy your craving for crunch while doing something great for your health.
Kale chips couldn’t be easier to make. This recipe recommends that you spray the kale with olive oil and bake at 275 degrees until slightly brown on the ends and crispy — about 20 minutes.
5. Make a veggie soup
Broth-based soups can fill you up without a lot of calories. And, a vegetable or chicken broth is a perfect base for delicious vegetables to take center stage. Soup is versatile and nutritious, making it an excellent choice for lunch or dinner.
There are hundreds of ways to combine vegetables into soup. All you need is broth and vegetables. Pick your favorites and don’t be afraid to experiment! This recipe gives you an easy place to start if you’ve never made your own vegetable soup before.
6. A beef burger can have veggies, too
Even if you don’t like veggie burgers, you can do a lot to make your hamburger healthier.
A burger that’s rich in vegetables involves more than slapping a piece of lettuce and a tomato slice on top. There are many ways to make this American classic into a healthy, fiber-rich meal. Grated carrot, bell pepper, and zucchini combine well with ground beef if you don’t want to do a full-out veggie burger. Simply mix the vegetables into your beef before cooking.
7. Make a shake with avocado
While avocado is technically a fruit and not a vegetable, it should be a part of everyone’s diet because it’s loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Avocados are also an excellent source of potassium. And, it so happens that avocado makes an excellent chocolate milkshake.
You can whip up a delicious, creamy milkshake in your blender in just minutes. Use real cocoa, a healthy sweetener of choice, avocado, and a little almond milk. It will be a fraction of the calories of a standard milkshake and will be loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients. Try this simple recipe when you desire a cool, creamy drink to go with that vegetable-loaded burger.
8. Add veggies to desserts
Who says you can’t have vegetables for dessert and still love every bite?
While a brownie may be the last place you would expect to find sweet potatoes, it’s a creative way to cut calories and give you extra nutrition while enjoying your favorite dessert. Use real cocoa powder for antioxidant power, and add the puree of one sweet potato to your mix — check out this recipe for a gluten-free, vegan option.
Cake lovers can enjoy a rich chocolate cake with veggies hidden inside. Even your kids won’t know the difference. Make this chocolate zucchini cake for an upcoming birthday or celebration, and savor the silent victory knowing that your family members are eating some veggies without even knowing it.
If you haven’t been eating enough veggies, it’s never too late to start. These are just a few of the creative and fun ways you can add more vegetables to your daily life.
Need help with starting a healthy diet? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized wellness plans to help you eat healthier, lose weight, and feel your best. Contact us for your no-cost consultation today!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on February 26, 2019