Let’s face it, meeting your daily veggie quota isn’t always easy!
Unlike our ancient ancestors who could graze on greens all day, precious few of us are regularly adding the recommended 5-10 servings servings of non-starchy vegetables to our plates.
And modern life doesn’t make it easy. How many times have you tried to find something healthy when you’re on the go, only to be met with little to no options? Unless you count a slice of carrot cake at the local coffee shop, finding veggies takes serious commitment.
But getting plenty of vegetables is so important to your health!
In addition to vitamins, minerals, and fiber that all provide a host of health benefits, vegetables contain powerful plant compounds that have been linked to a reduced risk of major illnesses like cancer and heart disease.1
I don’t know about you, but I think those are all compelling reasons to eat more plants.
And even if you’re not wild about veggies, I’ve got good news! Vegetables can easily be incorporated into your daily routine – hidden (and dare I say, even enjoyed!) among your favorite meals.
Check out my tips below to discover how to tantalize your taste buds (and even fool those family members who see veggies as an affront to everything they hold dear)…
1. Sneak Them Into Your Smoothies
Making a protein shake? It’s the perfect time to get a subtle serving of vegetables.
Try adding a cup of cooked pumpkin, butternut squash, or acorn squash to your next smoothie. Squash lends a rich, dynamic flavor and creamy texture to your cup! (Especially when paired with vanilla protein powder and a dash of cinnamon…)
You can buy pre-cooked frozen squash, or bake your own, chop it into 1-inch cubes, and freeze them before blending to add some chill and texture.
Another easy option is to throw a big handful of raw leafy greens into your next smoothie. Choices like spinach or chard might turn your smoothie green, but the taste is often relatively subtle – especially if you opt for baby greens or something lighter in flavor, like spring mix.
And if you need a little more flavor pop, try adding berries too. Blueberries are my personal fave for masking the flavor of leafy greens.
Shredded carrots and beets can also add natural sweetness to your smoothie, while upping your veggie quota. Carrot Cake Shake, anyone?
2. Swap Your Noodles for Zoodles
All hail the mighty zoodle!
I still remember the first time I ate zucchini-noodle marinara a solid year into being grain-free. I might have cried tears of joy! Spaghetti squash marinara soon followed – it became the dish I selfishly brought to every dinner party so I had something comforting to eat.
Just don’t make the mistake of overcooking your zucchini noodles, like I did the first time! As with regular pasta, you’re going for al dente, cooked but with a little firmness. I recommend trying your hand at zoodles with quick, tasty recipes like Zucchini Bolognese and Chicken Zoodle Stir Fry.
(Note: Gluten-free grains do work for some people, but I’ve found that I do best without them. It’s all about being your own health detective and finding out what works best for you!)
3. Modify Your Marinara
You won’t notice extra greens in your marinara sauce. In fact, puree them ahead if you have picky eaters, and they'll never notice either!
Speaking of pasta alternatives, the topping for your veggie noodles also gives you ample opportunity to blend so many other veggies into your sauce. And you don’t have to stop with greens! Tomato, onion, and basil are the obvious choices, but you can get creative here.
Try some sauces made with olive oil and walnuts or almonds to go with your zoodles, or whip up a batch of pesto, with a big handful of spinach added to the mix, to pour over your spaghetti squash.
4. Try Veggie Dippers
Ditch the chips and pita bread, and dip baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, or baby squash in your hummus and salsa instead. Not only are you getting your fresh veggies in, but your dips are also adding to your healthy food quota!
When I’ve eaten all the hummus I can take for the week (I indulge!), I also love blending my own bean dip out of white beans, olive oil, roasted garlic, and lemon. Go ahead, be daring with your legumes!
5. Think Outside the Bun
Use lettuce leaves to wrap burgers or grilled chicken, and pile on the veggie toppings.
Go for long leaves of Romaine or tender butter lettuce – the red version surprisingly contains as much iron as spinach. As for toppings, onions, tomatoes, and cucumber pickles are the norm, but just about any veggie can be quick-pickled for a zesty kick. Pretty soon, you won’t miss the bun!
For added veggie pizazz, try shredding and pickling some radishes or carrots. (Get all the details for Easy Homemade Quick Pickles now.) Or go with my personal fave, a huge tower of grilled peppers!
Just be sure to substitute JJ Virgin Sprinkles or another healthy sweetener option like stevia or monk fruit where it calls for sugar in any pickling recipe. It would be tragic to cancel out those veggie benefits with a big ol’ blood sugar spike.
These are just a few ideas to get those wheels turning!
Food challenges like sneaking in more veggies can be a fun way to diversify your diet. Try new things – it’s okay if you don’t love what you made every time.
But chances are you will add some new favorite meals to your menu, while boosting your intake of veggies and the health benefits that go along with them!
And for a variety of tasty veggie-packed recipes, you can always head to our website or pick up a copy of one of our cookbooks. Veggies never tasted so good!
Thanks so much for reading this post! If you’re interested in finding out more about how to dial in your diet and health, please check out our 60-second quiz to find the perfect next step for your personal goals and health needs.