When it comes to eating healthy, what we do put into our bodies is often more important than using an elimination diet to cut out less nutritious options. That’s not to say we should go all-out on pizza and fries on the reg (though, let’s face it; life happens), but when we start swapping superfoods into our diets, we often find that the less nourishing portions of our meals tend to shrink. Vegetables, in general, are a beneficial cornerstone of any healthy diet, since plants contain phytonutrients — phyto is Greek for “plant” — which are important for boosting energy, promoting vibrant health, and protecting against aging. If you’re one of those people who’s just NEVER going to eat salad seven days a week, here are 10 *genius* ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet…. no rabbit food required.
1. Make vegetable purees. If you have a food processor, making a puree of flavorful, ripe veggies can be a delicious way to get phytonutrients into your meals. Process slightly sweet vegetables like carrots or beets, then drizzle that sauce on top of chicken breasts or pork chops. This is the same concept as pairing pork chops with applesauce, only you’ll be using sweet vegetables instead of a fruit. Use olive oil to thin out any vegetables that need extra liquid (such as carrots).
2. Eat more pasta. Pasta might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to eating healthy, but it can be great when you load it up with veggies. Tomato sauce is, of course, a conventional staple, but tomatoes are *technically* fruits, and jarred sauces can add a lot of sugar. Add a ton of steamed vegetables to your noodle dishes, like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and artichokes — think pasta primavera. Or make a basil and spinach pesto to top your noodles.
3. Add greens to your smoothies. It has become super trendy to load up your smoothies with greens, but that doesn’t make it any less healthy. If you haven’t gotten on board the green smoothie train yet, trust us: With the right recipe, you won’t even think you’re drinking veggies. Spinach is a particularly good choice if you’re worried about vegetable flavors obscuring the sweetness of your drink.
4. Eat omelettes for breakfast. In case you missed it, eggs are healthy again. And what better way to enjoy your veg than in a healthy omelette? Skip carb-heavy breakfasts like toast or pancakes in favor of an omelette filled with sautéed broccoli, spinach, onions, bell peppers, and kale.
5. Make soup. Soup is a majorly underrated health food. When made at home (that is, not crammed with sodium), soup is intensely hydrating — it’s made with WATER, after all — and full of nutritious ingredients like vegetables, beans, legumes, and lean meats. It also couldn’t be simpler to make. Just throw some low-sodium broth into a pot and add a ton of vegetables, meats (if you want them), and beans. If you’re feeling creative, you can raid your spice rack for extra herbs to add, like thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and a bay leaf or two. Then simmer until all your ingredients are cooked, and enjoy.
6. Snack on veggie fries. Sweet potato fries are obviously a healthier choice than plain old French fries, but there are tons of other vegetables you can make into fries. We recommend trying carrots, eggplant, jicama, zucchini, and turnips.
7. Use vegan protein shakes. Protein powders should be carefully researched (there are often lots of scary ingredients in there), but once you’ve found a good brand, a protein shake can be a great way to get added greens into your diet. Vega One ($44) is just one example of a protein shake that is made from all-natural, food-based sources, and it offers a ton of added nutrients from dried greens such as organic broccoli, kale, and spirulina.
8. Put veggies on your bagel. New York bagel shops know what they’re doing when they recommend onions, tomatoes, microgreens, and capers on your bagel. Seriously, this is an uber-delicious way to get more veggies into your diet. Once you go gourmet in your bagel-making, you’ll never go back.
9. Juice with vegetables. Juices don’t JUST contain sweet fruits like oranges, apples, and strawberries. In fact, some of the best recipes also include more savory ingredients such as celery, carrots, beets, lettuce, and parsley. If you have a juicer, seek out recipes that contain not just naturally sweet fruits, but also nutrient-dense veggies.
10. Enjoy quiches and frittatas. Get a head start on the week by making a healthy choice for your weekend brunch. Not only are these egg dishes lower in added sugars than sweet items like waffles or French toast, they also include WAY more beneficial nutrients. Spinach artichoke quiches are pretty incredible, and we’ve never tried a sun dried tomato frittata we didn’t like. Plus, if you’re cooking at home, these dishes are so flexible that they’re a great way to clean out all the random odds and ends from your fridge’s vegetable drawer.