We all know we need to be eating more veggies. Some of us love them and eat them at every meal. And then there are those of us who can’t stomach the thought of chomping on something green that looks like a tree. And no, we’re not talking about four-year-olds — we mean adults, too!
If you’re the primary cook in your family, and pasta sauce and French fries are the only veggies going down at your home, you may want to get a bit sneakier. We’ve come up with some pretty cool ways to help you add vegetables into meals without anyone knowing. You get to be creative and it doesn’t take much work. Saving time and eating healthy — sounds like a winning combination!
Grab a box grater or the grating attachment on your food processor to shred zucchini, beets, carrots or parsnips to add to all sorts of recipes. Add a vegetable serving to your favorite whole grain muffins and quick breads by mixing shredded zucchini into your batter before baking. You can also sauté shredded carrots, summer squash or butternut squash for about five minutes before adding them to pasta sauce for a quick, veggie-filled meal. Even your pickiest of eaters may not notice!
Replace half the ground meat in recipes like burgers, meatloaf and meatballs with cooked chopped mushrooms. Finely chop your choice of mushrooms using a knife or a food processor, then sauté in a little olive oil until soft – about three minutes or so. Once the mushrooms are cool, gently mix them with your lean ground chicken, turkey or beef. Cook thoroughly and follow the recipe as is. Voila! Another veggie-ful meal for the family.
Cooked and pureed orange vegetables like butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots can be blended, unnoticed, into cheesy dishes we all love like macaroni and cheese, lasagna, or baked enchiladas. You end up using less cheese, which cuts some of the saturated fat and sodium. You can also add the sweeter-tasting veggies to a blender with some low-sodium broth and puree them into a smooth soup that most kiddos (and adults) will love.
Grab that blender and put it to work! When you’re making your favorite fruit smoothie, add in a frozen banana and some spinach, carrots, squash or just about any vegetable (cooked is easier to blend, FYI). The frozen banana makes for a sweet, thick, and creamy smoothie and it adds a strong banana flavor that helps hide the flavor of the veggies. Want a more colorful smoothie? Try adding beet, avocado or sweet potato to change the tint. You’ll be surprised at how bright – and healthy — your breakfast will be!