20 Ways to eat more vegetables
Creative ways to include veggies in your diet
Written by Teagan Evans, University of Alberta Student in the Nutrition and Food Sciences program and reviewed by our Health Stand Nutrition Dietitian Team
When it comes to healthy eating one of the most common struggles people come to a dietitian for help with is ways to eat more vegetables. If you are stuck for ideas this list is for you! Here are 20 ways to incorporate vegetables into your diet that are more exciting than just a basic salad!
You are probably wondering why the first suggestion to use vegetables is a smoothie filled with tons of fruit. Smoothies do not have to just be fruit, but instead can also incorporate lots of veggies. Some of my favourites are to throw a handful of spinach into a topical smoothie with mangos and peaches or throw in some frozen cauliflower chunks instead of ice into a berry smoothie. You won’t taste them at all! Try our Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie or our Beet and Berry Smoothie – both sneak in hidden veggies!
2. Stir fry
A stir fry will always be my go-to, quick, easy, and flavour-packed meal for busy weekdays. The best part about a stir fry is that it can be made up of any type of vegetables you have on hand. Pack your stir fry with all your favourite vegetables – some suggestions are carrots, celery, broccoli, onions, bok choy, peas, and peppers. Try this Asian Pork Vegetable Stir-fry.
3. Tomato Sauce
Probably one of the most versatile sauces in the kitchen, tomato sauce can take on a lot of flavour and substance. One of the sneakiest ways to add more vegetables is to shred the veggies and cook them down into the sauce. They add sweetness, flavour, and a great texture to the sauce. Some of the ones I use are mushrooms, zucchini, and carrots but get creative in the kitchen and try out new combinations! The best part is that you can add extra veggies to both homemade and purchased tomato sauce. This summer or fall you might also want to hit the farmers market and grab a case of tomatoes and make this simple Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce for your freezer. It is delicious!
Now that you know how to sneak vegetables into your tomato sauce, you can use that sauce to make a vegetable packed lasagna. In the ricotta mixture, you can mix in spinach for an added veggie hit. You can also add small cubed vegetables like butternut squash, peppers, and mushrooms into the layers. Try our Vegetarian Lasagna Recipe here.
Both carrot and zucchini-chocolate muffins were staples in my childhood and I never would have guessed they were packed with vegetables. The vegetables add moisture, flavour, and color to the muffins and are definitely kid approved! Here is a delicious recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Bread which can be baked in muffin or loaf form.
Omelettes are one of my favourite breakfasts (or suppers) and there are endless ways to eat more vegetables with them. Packing omelettes full of vegetables adds great texture and is a healthy start to the day. The trick is to sauté and steam the veggies before pouring the egg mixture in as this will prevent the vegetables from being raw and too crunchy inside the omelette. You can also make individual egg cups in a muffin tin, or try a frittata like our Zesty Eggplant Frittata!
Soups are the best way to clean out your fridge, especially the vegetable drawer. You can throw pretty much any vegetables into a pot with some broth, seasonings, and pasta or rice and somehow it always makes for a cozy and delicious meal. If you have picky eaters in your household, you can purée part or all of a soup and they will never know it is packed full of healthy vegetables. Try this Creamy Cauliflower Soup recipe from our blog.
Upgrade your daily oatmeal by adding shredded zucchini into the pot and stirring until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Not only will this add volume and texture to your oats but will add fiber as well! You can even venture farther out and try a savoury oatmeal topped with other veggies, eggs, and savory seasonings.
9. Roasted vegetables
A classic side dish to any meal, roasted vegetables never disappoint. Roasting gives vegetables a crunchy outer layer and adds lots of flavour to them. Some of my favourites include roasted broccoli with olive oil and chilli, roasted carrots with herbs, and roasted Brussels sprouts with onions and garlic. You can roast just about any vegetable – like Oven Roasted Cabbage or Carrots and Rutabagas.
10. DIY Veggie chips
If you are looking to get extra creative in the kitchen, try making your own veggie chips! You can use a variety of hard vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, and zucchini sliced extra thin and baked in an oven, air fryer, or dehydrator with different spices and seasonings to create a fun and unique snack!
11. Quinoa Salad
While quinoa is not a vegetable, a quinoa salad is a great way to add a ton of vegetables into your meal. Cook the quinoa and allow it fully cool before mixing it with vegetables like peppers, cucumbers, carrots, corn, celery or whatever else you have in the fridge! You can also add in a variety of flavour combinations with herbs and spices to make it suit whatever type of meal you are preparing. Try our Kale and Blueberry Quinoa Bowl – perfect for an at-home patio evening.
12. Veggie Chili
Just like tomato sauce and soup, chili is a great way to add in a ton of vegetables into a dish the whole family with love. You can add in a variety of vegetables as well as beans, legumes, and starches such as potatoes or yams for extra flavour and protein. Here is a great, healthy, and quick Chili Con Carne recipe.
Coleslaw is packed full of vegetables and makes cabbage taste much more interesting. Carrots and celery are great additions as well. To make coleslaw heart healthy, try using an oil-based dressing instead of a creamy one. This also adds freshness and helps it keep longer for leftovers! Try this recipe from our blog: Apple Poppyseed Coleslaw.
14. Weeknight Pasta
As a nutrition student for the past five years, I have had lots of practice making quick and easy meals while still getting all the necessary nutrients. Pasta with tomato sauce, chicken, and added vegetables is one of my go-to dishes. I usually like to add onions, peppers, broccoli, and carrots into the dish – it’s one of my favourite meals! You might also want to try this Orzo Arugula Salad.
15. Spring Charcuterie
I am a firm believer that everything tastes better when it’s on a charcuterie board, including vegetables. Creating a spring themed charcuterie board is the perfect way to utilize all the fresh produce for the season and make raw vegetables more fun!
16. Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are a delicious and fun dish for dinner. To make, cut bell peppers in half and fill with rice and cooked meat or quinoa lentil filling that has been seasoned and combined with other veggies. Top the filling with cheese and bake until the pepper has softened, and cheese is melted. A vegetable stuffed with more vegetables – you can’t beat that!
This savory breakfast dish combines a delicious tomato base with eggs cracked and baked into the sauce. You can add as many other vegetables as you like to the base such as peppers or zucchini to create a more balanced dish. Try this recipe: Sahkshuka With Feta.
Edamame can be added to a variety of dishes like a quinoa salad, stir fry, or can be consumed all by itself for a plant-based protein snack. You can buy pre-shelled edamame in the frozen section which makes it easy to defrost for a quick snack topped with salt and pepper. You can add edamame to other dishes such as our Citrusy Chicken Feta Salad for an extra protein source! Also try our Edamame Guacamole recipe for a high protein sandwich or wrap filler.
19. Rhubarb Crumble
While rhubarb is technically a vegetable, it can be incorporated into a variety of sweet dishes like pies or crumbles. Rhubarb adds flavour, texture, fiber, and a bright red colour to crumbles. Combined with berries, rhubarb adds a tart flavour and helps to create a delicious dessert! Try our new Streusel-Topped Rhubarb Muffins recipe!
20. Homemade Pizza
Who doesn’t love pizza? Homemade pizza is simple and easy to prepare, especially when you can buy pre-made dough at most grocery stores. You can add all your favourite toppings at home, including veggies such as peppers, spinach, canned artichokes, mushrooms, zucchini and onions.
With all of these great ways to eat more vegetables you should have lots of inspiration for using up all the fresh vegetables coming into season.
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