7 Delicious Tricks to Help You Eat More Vegetables
We could all stand to eat more veggies. Try these tricks to help you eat more vegetables at breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack time!
You’d think that, as a vegan, it would be easy to eat plenty of veggies, but lately I’ve been eating more grains and proteins and fewer vegetables. After reading that eating your veggies can reduce stress, on top of all of their other health benefits, I knew it was time to get serious and come up with some tricks to help me eat more vegetables. I hope you’ll find them helpful!
There are some fruits, like avocado, cucumber and tomato, that are packed with health benefits similar to those of vegetables. While they’re technically fruits, I’m treating them like vegetables.
Tricks to Help You Eat More Vegetables
1. Add them to breakfast.
Let’s be real: breakfast can be completely vegetable deficient. A bowl of oatmeal, a slice of toast with peanut butter. These are fine, healthy breakfasts, but where are the veggies? Here are some ideas for adding vegetables to your breakfast place:
- Avocado toast – Step away from the vegan butter, and spread fresh avocado all over that slice of toast. You can top it with hot sauce, herbs and spices, or a handful of salad greens.
- Sweet potato toast – Forget the bread! The base for this recipe is a veggie, and you can pile more healthy vegetables on top, like avocado, cooked or raw greens, sliced tomato, cucumber or sprouts.
- Savory oatmeal – If you haven’t tried savory oats, you’re in for such a treat! This list has lots of delicious topping ideas. They’re not all vegan, but you can either omit the animal ingredients or substitute them with something else.
- Greens on toast – I first had greens on toast at a fancy hotel in Burlington, Vermont. It was such a simple way to start the day with a pile of veggies! They served up a slice of whole-grain toast and topped it with pan-fried kale. I was surprised at how satisfying it was.
- Grits bowl – Grits are the original savory porridge, and you can add so much goodness to them beyond salt and pepper. My husband likes his with sliced avocado and baked tofu. I like mine with avocado, tomato and a pile of cooked leafy greens.
2. Eat a salad a day.
I love reminding people that vegans don’t only eat salads. In fact, I rarely eat salad, so this trick has been hard for me. But if you’re trying to add many servings of vegetables, a salad is a great way to knock lots of them out at once!
To make a daily salad is so easy: I’ve been preparing my veggies ahead of time, so it only takes a few minutes to toss a salad together at lunch. These are the foods I keep on hand for quick, easy, satisfying salads:
- Salad greens
- Chopped carrots
- Snap peas
- Baked tofu
- Nuts and seeds
- Green onions
- Black olives
- Pickled jalapenos
- Cooked beans
- Avocado (Do not prep ahead – pre-sliced avocado turns brown and mushy quickly.)
- Kale and collards (to massage)
- Store-bought or homemade vegan salad dressing
Grab handfuls of ingredients, and toss them into a bowl with a good dressing. Boom! Lunch is served, and you’ve knocked out a few vegetable servings at the same time.
3. Sneak them into sauces.
Sneaky veggie sauces are a great way to add vegetables to your day. Try some of these ideas!
- Creamy Kale Pasta Sauce - Kale gives this cream sauce a vibrant color and lots of sneaky nutrients.
- Add shredded carrots or shredded zucchini to pasta sauce while simmering, and use your immersion blender to puree, once they’re softened.
- Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce – Cauliflower is the base for this rich-and-creamy pasta sauce that’s packed with veggie goodness.
- Puree raw or cooked vegetables into your next batch of hummus. Sauteed or roasted carrots, roasted red peppers, raw kale or spinach (add basil!), roasted or steamed beets…you can sneak most veggies into your favorite hummus recipe!
- Avocado Pesto – Not only does avocado add a veggie punch to your pesto, but it also makes this traditionally oily sauce naturally oil free.
- Kale Pesto – Pesto doesn’t have to be about the basil. This kale and walnut pesto adds a veggie boost to your next bowl of pasta.
- Oven-Roasted Pasta Sauce – Tomato, schmomato. Roast up a whole pan of mixed vegetables and puree them over your next bowl of pasta.
4. Embrace the zoodle.
Zoodles are zucchini noodles, made by running a zucchini through a spiralizer. You can actually spiralize all kinds of veggies: carrots, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, beets, etc. Try some of these spiralized veggie recipes:
- Raw Pasta in Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce
- Orange Tofu with Sticky Sweet Potato Noodles
- Lemon Caper Pasta with Goat Cheese Croutons
- Carrot noodles with tomato sauce – This is one my kid loves! Spiralize a carrot or two and top with homemade tomato sauce. So easy!
- Raw Veggie Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Really, the sky’s the limit! Spiralize some veggies, top with your favorite sauce, and you’re eating a salad that feels like a pasta dish.
5. Increase the veggies in dishes that you already like.
When making pasta or grain dishes, try to reduce the grain-to-veggie ratio, so it’s the same meal, but with more veggie power. It’s fun to find creative ways to replace some or all of your grains with vegetables.
If I were making this quinoa salad, for example, I’d reduce the quinoa to 1/2 cup (cooked in 1 cup water), and either add more cucumber and tomato or add some massaged kale or steamed broccoli or cauliflower. With something like beans and rice, halve the rice and add in shredded cabbage, sliced cucumber, and chopped tomato tossed with a little bit of lemon juice and salt. Toss some spiralized veggies into your next bowl of noodles.
6. Prep them in advance or buy them prepped.
Yes, vegetables do lose a little bit of their nutrient content when they’re cut, but pre-cut veggies have more nutrients than no veggies. Instead of putting a head of cauliflower into the fridge, for example, cut it into florets when you get back from the grocery store. You can do the same with any vegetable that you know you’ll be eating in the next few days.
Shredded carrots or carrot “chips” are a favorite prepped veggie in our house. Carrot chips are just carrots cut with a mandoline into a chip shape. Perfect for stir fries, salads and for dipping into hummus.
7. Skip the chips.
If you’re serving a dip, leave the chips and crackers in the pantry. Baby carrots or carrot sticks, cucumber slices, snap peas, sliced bell peppers and broccoli or cauliflower florets are all great for dipping. And you add a vegetable serving or two to your day when you do it! Bonus points if you also snuck some veggies into the hummus itself.
Do you have any favorite tricks to help you eat more vegetables? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
Related at Care2
- Eating Vegetables Each Day Can Help Reduce Stress, According to Study
- Zucchini Noodles in Easy Vegan Cream Sauce
- The Best Way to Store Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Image Credits: Avocado toast, veggies, hummus, and chopping vegetable images via Thinkstock. All other photos by Becky Striepe.