Do you have a picky eater in the family? Whether it’s you or your little ones, everybody can benefit from eating more vegetables, and most of us don’t get enough. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, a variety of veggies in your diet can help you get most of your micronutrients in without supplements or extra calories. So when you or someone else in your family doesn’t like to eat healthy, it’s time to start sneaking in those veggies a little bit at a time. Here are a few general tips, followed by how to do it deliciously.
Generally Speaking (How To Eat More Vegetables Every Chance You Get)…
There are a few general tricks that will make getting those veggies in easier. For starters, one of the best ways to squeeze in a lot of nutrients a little bit at a time is by slipping purees into just about anything. While it may be easier to buy canned purees, it’s tastier to make your own, which requires a blender or food processor. Still, not every vegetable is available year round for pureeing, so getting items like pumpkin puree in a can are just fine.
When it comes to sneaking in greens, spinach and kale are among your best options for nutrient density. That said, each of these leafy powerhouses has a distinct flavor that not everybody likes. To keep it sneaky, err on the side of less rather than more until you get a feel for the practice. Adding these veggies to juices and soups will usually entail blending or pureeing, but when you add them to sauces or pasta dishes, you’ll want to chop them fairly small.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of using a lot of spices and fresh herbs to help disguise the flavors you’re not fond of. A big cooking mistake people make when trying to eat healthfully is under-seasoning the food. This is an especially easy trap for people who are transitioning from a less than healthy diet because junk food relies on fat and salt to make it flavorful. Fresh flavors go best with fresh herbs, so don’t be afraid to try basil, thyme, oregano, or rosemary from your produce department, all of which taste great on veggies or protein without extra calories. In fact, many of these herbs offer the added benefit of antioxidants in addition to great flavor profiles.
Get More Vegetables From Your Breakfast
Fold veggies into eggs by chopping and sautéeing some onions, green peppers and mushrooms (or whatever you like), then adding eggs and making it a scramble. Onions contain polyphenols, which have anti-cancer effects and are thought to relieve inflammation.
Make pumpkin French toast by replacing half the milk in your usual recipe with an equivalent amount of pumpkin puree, or more to your liking. This simple substitution will lower the calorie count and increase the fiber content of your regular French toast breakfast, plus give it a unique flavor.
Liven Up Your Lunches
Have a blended vegetable soup by mixing your favorite veggies in a food processor or blender, then heating the mixture on the stove. You could even eat it cold. Carrots, cucumber and ginger go well together and pack a ton of nutrients. Another great combination is tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach and a few basil leaves.
Add puree to anything with cheese. If you’re in the mood for cheese, why not add some fiber and vitamins? Cheese does a great job of disguising squash puree of any kind, so you can mix in a tablespoon or two of pumpkin, zucchini or even sweet potato puree into any cheese sauce and never taste it in your macaroni. You can also spread a bit onto the bread when making grilled cheese (before adding the cheese) to go with your blended tomato soup.
Improve Your Vegetable Ratio in Dinners
Substitute spaghetti squash for actual spaghetti. It doesn’t even have to be spaghetti squash – eggplant and zucchini work just as well. Using a mandolin or spiral slicer, you can shred the squash and sauté it for about three to five minutes in a pan before removing and covering with your favorite sauce or protein.
Make mashed potatoes half cauliflower. When making mashed potatoes, you can sub all or part of the potatoes with cauliflower for double the veggie power. You can simply boil the cauliflower florets and potatoes together in any amount until soft, then mash them and add flavoring to your desired taste and texture.
Add veggies to any sauce easily by chopping and tossing them in. Green peppers and spinach go great in marinara sauce, and onions are always a great addition to sloppy joes or other meat sauce.
Vegetables in Your Dessert? Yep.
Avocado pudding is a great dessert that’s easy to make and full of healthy fats and antioxidants. Take two avocados, mashed, and mix together in a bowl with 1/2 cup each brown sugar and cocoa powder and 1/3 cup coconut milk. Chill or eat right away for a yummy treat!
Vegetable breads and muffins. Instead of regular cakes or ice cream, why not bake some zucchini muffins or pumpkin bread instead? There are a ton of diverse recipes out there for fabulous vegetable-based baked goods, but they’re not simple substitutions or add-ins, so this is where you’ll have to search. Look for appealing recipes with high pumpkin, zucchini, or sweet potato content – at least 2 cups per 12 servings – for the highest nutritional value.
This article originally appeared on U.S. News. Vegetable soup photo courtesy of Shutterstock.