A question came up from one of our clients this week regarding how to hide vegetables in a meal. Maybe you have a picky child, maybe you are cooking for someone who can’t stand the sight or smell of spinach, or maybe you yourself aren’t a huge fan of leafy greens. Although in general I recommend finding ways to include vegetables in meals in a way they can be appreciated and highlighted, it can be beneficial to have some of these tricks up your sleeve for picky eaters!
A fun fact I like to share is that some people have a difficult time eating bitter foods such as coffee, grapefruit and vegetables including broccoli and Brussels sprouts because they are supertasters. These people have a gene that allows them to pick up on bitter flavors more easily than those without the gene. If you find it difficult to stomach vegetables, or you cook for a picky eater, then the recipes below are sneaky ways to get important nutrients in meals. Try these recipes as snacks, or to incorporate into your regular breakfast, lunch and dinner repertoire!
Pancakes: try adding in grated, mashed or pureed veggies such as sweet potato, zucchini and carrot that have a natural sweetness with little of the distinct bitter flavor common in vegetables. The following are a websites with recipes for veggie spiked pancakes:
Smoothies: adding veggies into a fruit smoothie is an easy way to get a few servings of greens in without tasting them! Smoothies can be a quick and easy breakfast or snack. Veggies that are easily hidden in smoothies are: spinach, kale, carrots, fennel (licorice flavor), cucumber, and zucchini. Follow the simple template below and swap out ingredients for unlimited smoothie ideas:
- 1-2 c. fresh veggies (amount may depend on veggie used)
- 1 c. fresh or frozen fruit (frozen bananas can lend to a decadent “ice cream” consistency)
- 1 c. milk of choice
- handful of ice cubes
Nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew), cocoa powder, protein powder, coffee beans, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, spices (turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg).
Oatmeal: adding veggies to oatmeal can also be an easy way to include veggies at breakfast. Try adding grated zucchini, sweet potato, or carrots to your oats. For a quick breakfast, try overnight oats with no cooking required. The oats will soak up liquid overnight and marinate in the additions of your choice!
Overnight oats (serves 1)
½ c. rolled oats
½ c. – ¾ c. milk of choice
½ – 1 c. fresh or frozen fruit of choice
½ c. grated zucchini or carrots, or mashed & cooked sweet potato
Optional additions: nut butters, nuts, seeds, spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, etc), chia or flaxseed (add appx 3 tbs more milk for every 1 tbs of chia or flax added), cocoa powder, vanilla.
Lunch & Dinner
The following are all easy ways to sneak veggies into meals and leftovers:
Soup broths: when the sight of leafy greens floating in broth is a turn off, instead use veggies to make the broth. Using celery, onion, carrot, and any other veggies hanging out in your fridge to build a broth for a soup base is one way to get added nutrients in. Even if these vegetables are taken out prior to adding in meats or starches, the liquid will retain many vitamins and minerals that leached into the water during cooking.
Spaghetti squash: these are more common in the fall and early winter and are a great substitute for traditional pasta. After baking or microwaving the squash, you can scoop out the insides to replace traditional pasta in any recipe.
Spiralized veggie “noodles”: a spiralizer (http://www.amazon.com/Paderno-World-Cuisine-A4982799-Tri-Blade/dp/B0007Y9WHQ) is a kitchen utensil used to peel veggies and spiral slice them. Replace any traditional pasta with spiralized sweet potatoes, zucchini, beets, cucumber, eggplant, or butternut squash. This blog is dedicated solely to spiralizer recipes: http://www.inspiralized.com/recipes/.
Cauliflower Pizza Crust: a fun alternative to the traditional pizza crust!
Mac n’ cheese: using mashed sweet potato, cauliflower, parsnip or carrot in a mac n’ cheese recipe can give the dish an added nutrient boost. The following recipes include veggies:
One of my favorite dessert blogs is Chocolate Covered Katie. This girl is amazing at taking traditional recipes and working her magic to produce delicious, more health conscious desserts. I have tried many of her recipes, and recommend this site as a resource for experimenting with dessert recipes. She provides options for gluten free and vegan in many recipes, and also has a cookbook available. The following recipes include veggies and are also delicious 🙂
Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Be sure to share pictures of your Veggie Success on our Facebook page, and Have Fun Cooking!