Fruits and vegetables are nutritional powerhouses that have numerous benefits for our health. However, sometimes it can be difficult to eat as many as we should and think of ways to use them other than as a side dish. Moreover, it can be difficult to get others to branch out and try them. Whether you have a fussy eater who won’t go near anything green or you simply want to boost the nutritional value of your meals, we have some sneaky ideas for you!
Macaroni and cheese – Cook and puree vegetables such as sweet potatoes, any variety of squash and/or carrots, and mix. The cheese easily masks the flavor of the vegetables! Prefer white cheese? Try mixing in zucchini, cauliflower, parsnip and/or white bean puree. This is a great trick for both boxed and homemade mac and cheese. Want a recipe for guidance? Click here.
Rice – While brown rice is healthier than white rice, it can be difficult to encourage others to eat it. You can easily make white rice healthier by sneaking in some cauliflower “rice.” Learn how to make your own here or use ready-made versions, which you can find in the frozen section of the grocery store. Try a 50/50 ratio for an even split. If you’re afraid your trick will be discovered, start with smaller ratios like 70/30.
Mashed potatoes – Speaking of cauliflower, this versatile vegetable can also be easily prepared as a healthier version of mashed potatoes. Try this delicious recipe. If you’re nervous that your potato swap will be discovered, you can also make a half-and-half version in which you’ll use both potatoes and cauliflower.
Ground meat – If a recipe calls for ground meat (beef, pork, chicken, turkey, etc.) there are many ways you can sneak in vegetables! Try mixing in some of the purees mentioned above, or you can include diced mushrooms, black beans, onions, zucchini, celery, bell peppers and more! Try these tasty recipes:
- Turkey meatloaf (added bonus: This recipe also includes rolled oats for extra fiber!)
- Beef and black bean burgers (try mashing the beans up really well to be more inconspicuous. You can also add diced mushrooms.)
- Mushroom and beef meatballs (this recipe includes three hidden veggies! For added nutritional value, use whole grain bread)
Pizza dough – Why order out when you can make your own? Making pizza dough is easier than it seems. You can easily add cauliflower or zucchini to make a healthier crust. If you’re brave and want to try only using cauliflower, this recipe may interest you. If you are most interested in a recipe closer to traditional dough, try this one.
Sweets and treats – You can easily improve the nutrition of your favorite desserts with fruits and vegetables. Check out some of these ideas:
- Chocolate treats are very versatile. The strong value of chocolate lends itself to hiding fruits or vegetables easily. You won’t even know they are there! Here are some great recipes:
- View our post on healthy baking substitutions to learn how you can switch bananas and applesauce for butter and pureed fruits for sugar.
- Read this post for more great healthier baked good recipes that feature fruits and vegetables.
Be well and enjoy!