40 Unexpected Ways to Add Veggies to a Meal
Even for those of us who like eating veggies, it can be a challenge to fit in all those recommended servings every day. When a craving for creamy mac and cheese calls, it's hard to ignore the grumbling tummy and go for a bowl full of veggies instead. We're here to tell you it's easy to have the best of both worlds! Here are our 40 favorite (sneaky) ways to fit veggies into any meal:
1. Frittata it. We love starting the weekend with an egg-heavy brunch. Mix eggs with veggies for a healthy and hearty breakfast. Bonus points if you make enough to munch on all week!
2. Add finely minced broccoli to scrambled eggs. This veggie addition doesn't change the texture of eggs and fits in at least a whole serving of veggies.
3. Steam and puree or finely grate cauliflower to mix with scrambled eggs. Try it with chicken or tuna salad for an entrée.
4. Bake 'em. Breakfast sweets can be packed with veggies, too. Try making some travel-friendly bran muffins packed with zucchini and carrots in addition to the classic raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon.
5. Veg out on savory oatmeal. Yeah, the classic might be brown sugar with fruit, but oatmeal (or steel-cut oats) can be savory, too. Cook plain oats with water and add your choice of steamed or sautéed veggies. Top with an egg for extra protein and season with salt, pepper, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
6. Make pudding a healthy breakfast. Only if it's avocado-based!
7. Try pumpkin or butternut squash pancakes or waffles. When the skillet is heating next Saturday morning, throw some pumpkin or squash puree into any pancake or waffle mix to fit in an extra serving of veggies (and get a fun orange tinge, too).
8. Add greens to breakfast smoothies. A handful of spinach or kale blends well with any fruit smoothie. Try the classic "Green Monster" by blending 1 cup milk of choice, 1 frozen banana, 2 handfuls spinach, and 1 tablespoon almond butter.
9. Grab an avocado smoothie. Like the green smoothie, this avocado-based treat is perfect for breakfast or a nutritious midday snack. Packed with healthy fats, vitamin E, and vitamin B6, avocados are definitely one superfood we'd love to learn to liquefy.
10. Slurp a carrot smoothie. Carrot juice is pretty easy to find, but without an expensive juicer at home, it's hard to make on demand. Luckily, grated carrots are easy-peasy to fit into any fruity smoothie. Bonus points: Because we're using all parts of the veggie, none of the fiber is lost from the juicing process.
Pasta and Grains
11. Green up pasta dishes. When spaghetti and meatballs is on the menu, add a load of extra veggies to the dish itself instead of opting for a boring ’ol side salad.
12. Substitute veggie strips like zucchini, squash, asparagus, or spaghetti squash and skip the pasta altogether. Add veggies to the sauce too for bonus points.
13. Remember herbs are leafy greens too! Add fresh herbs to any rice, pasta, or grain dish. Or whip up a quick homemade herb pesto to add to scrambled eggs or use as a sandwich spread.
14. Fancy up macaroni and cheese. It's a childhood favorite, but grown ups crave it too — don't lie! When guilt sets in for wanting to demolish the whole box, throw in a load of fresh veggies to justify the choice. Spinach, tomatoes, peas, and broccoli make awesome additions. Extra credit for skipping the boxed mixes and making it all from scratch.
15. Mix the potatoes. Sweet and regular mashed potatoes are perennial favorites. To add some extra nutritional value, mix the two types of potatoes 1-to-1 in a mash.
16. Sneak them in casseroles. Anytime that casserole dish comes out of the cupboard, get out the grater, too. Finely shredded zucchini or summer squash can be added to virtually any casserole without changing taste or texture!
17. Sub greens for sandwich wraps or breakfast burritos. For tougher greens like collards, kale, or chard, blanch the greens and pat dry before wrapping.
18. Try veggie grilled cheese. Cheese sandwiched between two slices of bread doesn’t have too much green value. Every time the cheesy craving strikes, throw in a few layers of veggies, too. Spinach or arugula, tomato, and avocado make awesome additions.
19. Make vegetarian quesadillas. Instead of opting for the classic chicken-and-cheese, throw in a variety of veggies and cut down the cheese by half for a healthier version. Some favorite fillings are corn, peppers, onions, and greens.
20. Bite a better burger by adding carrot puree to ground beef recipes. From hamburgers to meatloaf, a few steamed and pureed carrots (or a mix of carrot and sweet potato) go a long way.
Sauces and Condiments
21. Pick a pumpkin marinara sauce. Tomato sauce is a great vehicle for any extra pureed veggies. The easiest? Throw in a can of pumpkin puree!
22. Load up. Basic tomato sauce is great — definitely counts as one veggie! But the more veggies added, the better. Try adding pureed carrots or winter squash, peppers, onions, or greens.
23. Health up the Hollandaise. Nothing's better than a Sunday-morning plate of Eggs Benedict, but the classic Hollandaise sauce can be less than healthy. Try subbing this avocado Hollandaise to fit in some extra green.
24. Mix butternut squash puree and grated cheese to use as a spread in grilled cheese, quesadillas, or pizzas.
25. Spice up salad dressing. Say bye-bye to classic oil and vinegar and hello to veggie-based dressings. Some ideas include butternut squash, tomato, beet, or zucchini.
26. Bake an egg in an avocado. It's the perfect healthy vehicle for some seriously awesome protein!
27. Turn it into a fry. Slice zucchini, avocado, carrot, or green beans, lightly bread and bake until crispy.
28. Cook up kale chips. Lightly coated in oil and sprinkled with salt, crispy kale chips are a great (and much healthier) stand-in for potato chips.
29. Serve a colorful pie. Yes, a cheesy, meaty pizza pie is hard to pass up, but a really great pizza is a great vehicle for a big pile of veggies. Practically anything works, from greens and tomato to roasted squash or root vegetables.
30. Prepare a pizza salad. If pizza's on the dinner table, throw a salad on top for a fun meal to eat, and an easy two-in-one dinner. A favorite? Arugula salad with tomatoes and Parmesan on top of a mixed veggie pizza.
31. Splurge on spinach. Tomato sauce is a great way to get a serving of veggies. Even better? Spread a layer of spinach puree on the pizza dough BEFORE spreading the sauce for another dose of veg (and some extra greens).
Soups and Stews
32. Add veggie puree to chicken soup. Making classic chicken soup? Add a can of pureed tomatoes, squash, or potato. It will make for a thicker soup and will sneak in some extra veggies.
33. Add carrot, sweet potato, or butternut squash puree to any chili or stew recipe.
Baked Goods and Desserts
34. Bake veggies into bread. Another sweet veggie-packed delight, zucchini bread can be a great way to get in a serving of veggies while fulfilling that sweet tooth.
35. Disguise greens in chocolate! These spinach brownies use pureed spinach leaves in the wet mixture to get in that extra dose of greens in the dessert course, too! (They're vegan, too.)
37. Pair chocolate and beets. The cocoa covers the earthy beet flavor well and the sweetness of the beets pair well with the sugary cake.
39. Add carrot or sweet potato puree to chocolate chip cookies.
40. Pack avocados in chocolate pudding. Yes, we can even sneak some extra nutrients into chocolate pudding. Plus, avocados' silky texture gives this pudding another plus.
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