How to Sneak Vegetables into Your Meals for a Balanced Diet

Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables even though they have many well-known health benefits. Vegetables can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and may also help to prevent some types of cancers.

There are many simple ways we can add more vegetables to our usual dishes like omelettes, oatmeal, soups, burgers and pizzas. This method ensures we eat healthier meals without making drastic changes to our daily diet.

We can also adopt more creative ways to add vegetables to our meals. Some of these ways include eating vegetable crisps, adding vegetables to desserts and eating noodles made from vegetables. We need to rethink vegetables because they can be an exciting part of our daily meals.

Vegetables are an essential part of our diet due to the many health benefits they have to offer. We need vitamins, minerals and fibre to ensure optimum health and vegetables provide us with a rich supply of these important nutrients.

Vegetables also reduce the risk of chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and may even help to prevent some cancers and reduce the risk of heart attacks. The best news about vegetables is that they contain fewer calories compared to other types of food. This means you can eat more vegetables and still maintain the calorie count on your diet.

Yet despite the many advantages vegetables possess, many of us just don’t eat enough of this nutrient dense food as we should. A recent study found out that only 1 in 10 American adults meet the federal fruit and/or vegetable recommendations in their diet.

Some of us may feel that vegetables require a lot of preparation and may not have time to chop and peel before they turn bad. Some people may lack inspiration and not know how to prepare vegetables in a tasty way. But the truth is, there are many easy and fun ways to increase our daily intake of vegetables.

Sneak Vegetables into Your Muffins and Breads

Use a box grater or a food processor and shred some carrots or beets into your waffle, pancake or muffin mix. Instead of the usual sweet treats, you can always dish up some savoury muffins or waffles. This way you’ll get a tasty breakfast and still have a dose of some healthy vegetables. Plus, you can cut back on your calories because you’re not using sugar-laden maple syrup or fat-laden butter for your breakfast.

Homemade Sauces

By making our own sauces, we can increase the intake of vegetables. Instead of using canned tomatoes for a pasta sauce, opt for fresh tomatoes.

Sauté some shredded butternut squash or bell peppers and add it to the sauce. Although homemade sauces may take a little more time, it’s cheaper, healthier and you can always store them in the refrigerator or icebox for future use.

Replace Meat with Vegetables

Ok, we’re not asking you to go full-vegetarian here, but instead of using just ground meat for your meatballs and burger recipes, replace some part of the ground meat with ground vegetables. Mushrooms are an excellent substitute for meat.

Mushrooms are healthy and a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Try porcini or portobello mushrooms because they have a strong flavor which is earthy and tastes close to beef. Sauté them in oil to soften, then add to your ground meat. Now you have a delicious burger patty which is also healthy.

Spice up Your Cheese with Vegetables

We use lots of cheese sauces for many of our favourite dishes like macaroni and enchiladas. It’s easy to make these dishes a little healthier, all you have to do is cook and puree vegetables like butternut squash or carrots and add them to the cheese sauce.

Choose orange-colored vegetables as they’re easier to blend with the color of cheese. This way you use less cheese which means cutting back on fats and calories and you have a more nutritious meal.

Make Smoothies

Smoothies are an excellent way to add more vegetables into our daily diet. Switch from fruit smoothies to vegetable smoothies but if that doesn’t sound appealing, throw in your favourite fruit to make your vegetable smoothie more palatable.

Sweet fruits like an apple or banana can jazz up your vegetable smoothie both in terms of color and taste. If the idea of blending kale and drinking a glass of green juice sounds unappealing, start slow, and gradually add more vegetables into your fruit smoothies.

Try Some Fries

Who doesn’t love French fries with their burger?

They’re a nation’s favorite, but no one loves the grease that comes with fast food fries or the tons of chemicals accompanying the processed variety sold in grocery stores.

The solution? Homemade fries.

Don’t just stick to potatoes though, go for healthier vegetables like sweet potatoes or zucchini. In fact, sweet potato fries are all the rage in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore.

Don’t worry about the preparation time, homemade fries are easy to make. All you need to do is chop up your choice of vegetables, cover them up with some oil and seasoning and bake them in the oven at medium heat for about 20 minutes.

Eat Vegetables for Dessert

The idea of vegetables as dessert may seem ridiculous but it’s really easy to make a healthy and tasty dessert and increase your vegetable intake at the same time.

Try adding some mashed zucchini into your cupcake batter. Or make sweet corn ice cream. You can also make a healthy pudding by whipping avocados.

Technically avocados are fruits though they’re used in many vegetable dishes. They’re creamy and give you the right texture, plus they are tasty and one of the most nutritious fruits in the world.

Another way would be to stir in some grated carrot to oatmeal batter. You can also sneak vegetables into cheesecake by replacing some of the cream cheese with pureed squash.

Beating your beets into cupcake batter is also an excellent way to add some natural red dye to your cupcakes if you don’t like the idea of artificial ones. Beets are also very healthy and laden with fibre.

Soups

If you want to consume more vegetables, drink more soup. They’re easy on the stomach, tasty and filling.

Soups are excellent as a meal or a snack with one of the easiest recipes only requiring you to boil some water and chicken broth with vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions. If you’re more adventurous and willing to shell out more time for preparation, then Google for more soup recipes and you’ll be well on your way to having more vegetables in your diet.

You can pack your homemade soup in a microwavable Tupperware and bring it to your office for a healthy lunch option. If you feel that making your own homemade soup is a hassle, then add some vegetables to your canned soup while you’re heating it up. All you need to do is toss in some frozen or raw vegetables while your soup is boiling.

Salsas

Why not switch the bowl of popcorn at your Saturday home movie nights to a plate of tortilla chips and healthy salsa dip? This popular Mexican sauce is made with peppers, tomatoes and cilantro. Most salsas also include onions, garlic and some even have beans.

Instead of getting a bottle of salsa from the store, make your own brand. Homemade salsa can be kept for a few days in your refrigerator and will be an excellent accompaniment to your omelette, burger or even fries. This is an easy and tasty way to eat more vegetables. There are tons of salsa recipes on the internet, so you could try out a new salsa recipe every week.

Eat Fresh Vegetables in a Tasty Way

Just like fruits, vegetables are best consumed raw. Unfortunately, unlike fruits, raw vegetables don’t always taste great. The solution would be to eat vegetables with dips. Next time, cut up some carrots or celery and dip them into peanut butter or homemade salsa, hummus or whipped avocado.

If homemade dips take too much time, buy some organic ranch dressing or honey mustard. Bring your vegetable sticks and dips to work in a lunchbox for a quick, tasty and healthy snack.

Vegetable Chips

All of us like to indulge in the occasional packet of crunchy, tasty chips. Why not use this opportunity to increase your vegetable intake?

Instead of heading to your local store for your chip fix, make some of your own with a host of healthy vegetables.

Store bought chips are processed and full of oil and salt. When you make your own, you get to eat tasty chips which are also healthy. You can experiment with a bunch of interesting vegetables like taro and even make chips out of tofu and spinach. Make your chips even healthier by pairing them with homemade salsas or dips.

Add Vegetables to Your Eggs

Most homemade breakfasts have eggs in them. Next time, make some scrambled eggs with more than just tomatoes and cheese thrown in. You can add minced broccoli and even grate some cauliflower into your egg mixture. Add bell peppers or even a dash of frozen mixed vegetables like peas, carrots and corn to your omelettes.

Get creative with your eggs and try different recipes for omelettes. Asian-style omelettes at times include onions, cilantro and even chives. This is a fun and easy way to eat more vegetables.

Savoury Oatmeal

Oatmeal is another breakfast staple to which we can add vegetables. It may come as a surprise to some that oatmeal can be savoury as well as sweet. Instead of adding sugar and fruits, cook plain oats with some delicious sautéed vegetables. Season your oatmeal with pepper and salt and top it with a serving of tangy parmesan cheese. Garnish with a sprig of parsley and you have a delicious cup of vegetable-laden oatmeal for breakfast. Pour some of that into a microwavable Tupperware and it’s a delicious and healthy office lunch.

Vegetable Noodles

Buy a spiral slicer and turn any round vegetable into noodles!

This is a great way to add more vegetables to any pasta dish. You can make zucchini, parsnip, carrot, squash and even broccoli noodles. If making your own vegetables noodles is too time consuming, many large supermarkets and organic stores sell readymade vegetable noodles. Add some homemade vegetable pasta sauce or put the noodles into a homemade vegetable soup for a healthier option.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Vegetables

Whenever we want a quick snack or an easy lunch, we often turn to a grilled cheese sandwich and it’s easy to sneak some vegetables into this dish.

Chop fresh tomatoes and mushrooms and slip them between the layers of cheese before grilling the sandwich. You can also spread some avocado dip or even hummus on to the bread slices, or make a batch of homemade pesto or tomato paste and add it into your grilled cheese sandwich next time.

Pizza Sauce Base

Make your own pizza sauce base and you’ve got a sure-fire way to add more vegetables into your diet. Pizza sauce bases are easy to make, all you need is tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and seasoning.

By making your own sauce, you can choose to use fresh tomatoes. Plus, you can add in pureed vegetables like carrots, peppers and pumpkin which makes your sauce tastier and healthier.

Homemade Coleslaw

Just like fries and salsa, coleslaw is another favourite dish. Instead of the usual coleslaw recipe, why not try adding more vegetables like purple cabbage and kale? This way you get some tasty slaw with extra health benefits.

Don’t just stop there! Why not add raisins, or cherry tomatoes and even some shredded beets for a healthier option?

Coleslaw goes great with a wide variety of foods from sandwiches, tacos and French fries. In fact, it’s so good you can even eat it on its own. Make some slaw and store it in your refrigerator. Next time you need a vegetable boost, add a dollop to your dishes.

Juicing

Juicing is the easiest way to add vegetables to your diet. What’s the difference between juices and smoothies? When you blend fruits and/or vegetables, you get a smoothie. The fibrous part of a fruit or vegetable is present. When you juice fruits and/or vegetables, you get a juice and the fibrous part of a fruit or vegetable is absent.

Juicing is incredibly healthy and is an excellent way for fussy eaters to add vegetables to their daily diet by simply drinking them. This is because the sheer volume of nutrients you can squeeze into a juice is actually a lot higher than you could fill your plate with, so by drinking your vegetables you’re getting a serious health boost. If you’re not a lover of boiled carrots, try juicing them raw with oranges for a delicious breakfast drink.

And Finally…

Although vegetables should be an essential part of our daily diet, many of us just don’t eat enough for a wide variety of reasons. Yet there are many simple, fast and effective ways to add them into our daily life. We can add vegetables to eggs, pancakes, waffles and oatmeal. We can also get creative with our pizza sauces, dips, salsas and desserts. In fact, with just a little bit of effort a lot of the unhealthy snacks we crave like ice cream and chips can become healthy dishes loaded with vegetables too.

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