All too often I find myself gulping back giggles as I remind my husband that, unbeknownst to him, he was indeed ‘my first client.’ Feigning bewilderment he will accuse me of conniving manipulation and devious, woman wiles. Underneath he is grateful… I think… While he may not find my teasing as amusing, he knows there is truth to it. You see, when my husband and I first met he DID NOT eat vegetables. Really. Getting him to branch out of his comfort zone was like coaxing a three year old. Five years later, after gradual introduction, and I dare say sneaky tactics, he is a total vegetable stud!
I share this story and the following tips with empathy. Whether you are looking to revamp your own diet, coerce a resistant loved one, or use sly tactics on your children, I hope these simple ideas get you thinking out of the box.
1. Blend vegetables into your smoothies.
This might be the easiest way to sneak vegetables into your diet, especially for those with an aversion to their taste! Mixed with fruit and nut milk, veggies can be undetectable.
My favorite recipe:
5 oz. plain almond milk yogurt
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
5 large luscious organic strawberries (1 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup frozen wild blueberries
2 cups spinach
1 tsp. chia seeds (or more)
2. Bake them into bread.
You’ve all tried zucchini bread and carrot cake. The Internet is full of great recipes! A favorite of mine is my mother’s homemade broccoli bread. Yum!
3. Puree vegetables into soups and sauces.
Pureed soups are a wonderful way to get vegetables in and are especially good for texture-wary folks like my husband! Pea, carrot, and leek soup are my personal favorite, however there are many delicious options to choose from. Another trick you might try is to simply add a cup of vegetable puree to a basic broth recipe as a thickener. For example adding blended cauliflower to chicken soup!
Spruce up your sauces with purees as well, unless of course you like to keep your vegetables chunky! Try adding mushrooms, peppers, onions and other greens to your marinara sauce. Add pureed leeks and cauliflower to your alfredo. Make Macaroni and cheese with a vegan sweet potato and carrot cheese sauce!
If you haven’t tried this nifty kitchen tool yet, do! With the help of a spiralizer you might ditch the grain pastas and substitute (or supplement) with a wide range of vegetables. Zucchini, beats, carrots, broccoli stalks, and many other sturdy vegetables will work, as well as various squashes and yams. Colorful veggie pasta makes for beautiful plating and invites children to redefine, "Taste the rainbow!"
5. Make vegetable "rice" (or buy it!)
With a food processor you can easily turn raw veggies into ‘rice.’ Cauliflower rice is amazing. Carrots also work great. If you don’t have a food processor, you are in luck. Trader Joe’s sells ‘riced’ cauliflower fresh and frozen. Easy peasy.
Tip: After you’ve processed your vegetables into small bits and pieces sauté them with a bit of olive oil, fresh garlic and spice! Limiting cooking time to 2-3 minutes will keep your ‘rice’ al dente. This makes a great side for your proteins and in my opinion is much tastier than plain rice.
6. Boil vegetables with your pasta
When your pasta has only a few minutes left to boil, toss in some raw vegetables. Boil for a couple minutes and strain everything together. This reduces not only cooking time but also the amount of dirty pans you’ll have to clean at the end of the night. I love adding broccoli and peas to my pasta dishes, whether they be smothered in marinara, ghee, or creamy vegan cheese.
Tip: I put this suggestion last for a reason. Boiled vegetables retain the least amount of nutrients, as many of their minerals and vitamins are water-soluble. Try not to boil your vegetables for too long, as the longer you cook them the fewer nutrients they will retain.
Hopefully these suggestions inspire some healthy home cooked meals full of micronutrient-rich vegetables. Get those babies in however you can and please share your own creative ideas below. I’m always looking for new ways to dupe my husband! ;)