There’s no getting around it—veggies are super-important for your health and longevity. They’re loaded with fiber, protein, and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals to fill you up, promote weight management, and keep your immune system and heart happy.
That said, a nightly side of steamed broccoli can admittedly grow boring. Plus, sometimes they’re not so easy to pack into our meals. Here, we’ve shared a few easy ways to sneak in veggies so you can reap their rewards and maybe even enjoy eating them more!
Daily Veggie Recommendations
As the bulk of the USDA Dietary Guidelines, veggies need to make up a good amount of our diet.
“While the USDA minimum recommendation is three servings of vegetables per day and two serves of fruit, studies show that seven-to-eight servings of produce per day is associated with increased levels of happiness and lower depressive symptoms,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
She notes vegetables provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, and also phytochemicals, a plant compound with a variety of benefits. Veggies also provide both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is important for normal bowel function and gut health support, the latter of which promotes better immune and mental health, she adds.
“I recommend getting at least one green vegetable per day and at least one red or orange vegetable. Past that, the more variety in color the better, as the colors of plants come from the different phytochemicals,” Jones suggests.
Related: The 7 Veggies With The Most Protein
Ways To Sneak In Veggies
1. Crank Your Pizza Up A Notch
Who says comfort food can’t be nutritious?
“Popular vegetable pizza toppings include spinach, bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and broccoli. It’s a good idea to look for recipes if you don’t know how to match veggie pizza toppings for best flavor,” says Sofia Norton, R.D.
Norton’s go-to recommendation? Try garlic, spinach, and mushroom pizza with mozzarella cheese. “Make it by first sautéing garlic and spinach, then adding it to your pizza, and finishing with mozzarella slices and Italian seasoning,” she says.
Looking to double your veg-loaded pie? Another great option is using cauliflower pizza crust for a low-carb, veggie-packed pizza option that even the pickiest eater can enjoy.
2. Make Swaps!
Trade macaroni, pasta, lasagna, or even rice with their veggie-based brothers. These quick swaps increase the nutrient density of your dinner, while maintaining an oh-so-yummy dish.
Norton suggests swapping spiralized zucchini noodles for pasta, riced cauliflower for rice or couscous, cauliflower florets in place of noodles in macaroni and cheese, or sheets of zucchini or eggplant in place of lasagna noodles.
Not willing to give up pasta night for good? If you don’t want to ditch the carbs completely, you can add veggies into pasta and rice dishes to add bulk and nutrition. Swap half the noodles or rice you’d normally dig into with the veggie alternative.
3. Search For Veggie-Based Dessert Recipes
This may just be the sneakiest way to trick anyone into eating veggies. Surprisingly, the sweet flavors found in desserts mask veggies really well.
Give zucchini brownies, kale and apple cake, carrot cake, green tomato jam, chickpea blondies, and pea cake a try, suggests Norton.
The best veggies for desserts are naturally sweet, so opt for those options. Think pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, beets, and peas. “But there are many exceptions to this rule, and you can find many unconventional uses of veggies you’d least expect in desserts,” Norton says.
Just avoid drowning these desserts in butter and oils. There are swaps for those ingredients, too, such as yogurt and applesauce.
4. Satisfy Your Smoothie Cravings
Throwing veggies in with fruit and other ingredients, like nut butter or protein powder, can mask the taste of veggies better than you’d think.
“Without changing the taste or texture, frozen cauliflower is a great addition to your morning smoothie, as well as spinach. You can also add cooked carrots for a good texture and bit of sweetness,” says Jones.
5. Hop On The Savory Oats Train
Wake up with a savory breakfast that’s high in fiber and protein. Jones suggests blending cooked veggies into a bowl of oatmeal for a twist on the classic breakfast. It’s easy to do and adds more nutrition in a snap.
“If you ever have leftover veggies in the fridge that may spoil, consider adding some water and pureeing in your blender before freezing in an ice cube tray. Add a few cubes to oats or quinoa and cook for a savory breakfast porridge bowl,” she says. Meal prep at its finest, right?
6. Mix Into Egg Muffins
Veggies taste great in eggs, but the time commitment to make a vegetable omelet every morning is unrealistic. Pop an egg and veggie mini-muffin in portable egg cups for busy mornings and snacks.
“Food prep frittata muffins by whisking vegetables, like thawed frozen spinach or chopped frozen broccoli, in with six-to-eight eggs before pouring into a 12-cup muffin tin,” Jones says. Bake them and you can have two each morning with some toast for a power-packed meal.