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10 Ways to Sneak in More Vegetables

By Erin Decker, MS, RDN, LDN, CDE  

 

Make half of your plate vegetables. Aim for 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. We know vegetables are good for us. They give us fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plenty of other plant compounds that impact our health in amazing ways. However, vegetables are often an after-thought when it comes to meal planning. Here are 10 easy ways to incorporate more vegetables into your meals:

1. Smoothies

Leafy greens, like baby spinach and kale, are easy to blend into smoothies with little impact on taste. They make your smoothie a nice, pretty, green color or, if blended with berries, a fascinating brown. Start with a small handful and build on from there.

2. Soup and Chili

There are no right or wrong ways to add vegetables to soup. Sauté onions, peppers, carrots, or celery in the early stages, or add a bag of frozen vegetables to defrost as the end nears. Greens like spinach and kale also wilt quickly when added to a hot pot in the later stages.

3. Riced Vegetables

Riced cauliflower is a staple in almost all low-carb recipes right now. Even if you are not cutting carbs, riced vegetables can be easily mixed into regular rice, used as a base for any sauce, curry, casserole, and stew, or mixed in with ground beef or turkey. You can find frozen, steam-in-bag riced cauliflower in the frozen section at your grocery store.

4. Baked Goods

Make a batch of zucchini bread or muffins, or try these Power Green Muffins made with spinach.

5. Casseroles

Like soup and chili, it is easy to sneak extra vegetables into casseroles. Try substituting part of the starch or meat with diced peppers, onions, or zucchini. No recipe adaptations are needed.

6. Meatloaf/Meatballs

Finely dice onions, mushrooms, or peppers (or use a food processor) to combine into meatloaf or meatballs. Start with substituting one-quarter of the meat in your recipe with vegetables, and then experiment with other variations. Keep oven temperature and cooking time the same.

7. Spaghetti Sauce

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, zucchini, and eggplant all go well with Italian flavors. Like soup, these can be sautéed in the early stages or mixed in near the end. Grated carrots will add a touch of sweetness to your sauce without any added sugar.

8. Omelets

If you have any leftover fresh vegetables, scramble them up into a frittata or omelet. This is a good use for diced vegetables that would otherwise be thrown out, or salad greens that are almost on their way out.

9. Zucchini Noodles

Combine zucchini noodles with regular noodles to get the best of both and add in a little extra fiber and vitamins.

10. Puree into Sauces

Using a blender or food processor, puree vegetables to mix into tomato or cream-based sauces. Try mixing pureed cauliflower into alfredo sauce or pureed carrots into tomato sauce.

Erin Decker is an RDN working at the North Raleigh and Central Raleigh offices. She enjoys running, visiting local breweries, and snuggling with her dog, Lottie. She is passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle in a non-judgmental environment.

Categories: Education,  Healthy Living,  Nutrition
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