Including vegetables in your meals is extremely important. Veggies are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which boost your health and help fight off disease.
Additionally, they’re beneficial for weight management due to their low calorie content.
Health authorities around the world recommend that adults consume several servings of vegetables each day, but this can be difficult for some people.
Some find it inconvenient to eat vegetables, while others are simply unsure how to prepare them in an appetizing way.
We’ll cover some unique ways you can incorporate vegetables into your eating plan, so that you never get sick of eating them.
Soups are an excellent way to consume multiple servings of vegetables at once.
You can make veggies the “base” by pureeing them and adding spices, such as in this broccoli spinach quinoa soup.
Furthermore, it’s simple to cook veggies into broth- or cream-based soups.
Adding even a small number of extra veggies, such as broccoli, to soups is a great way to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Here are a few other veggie-based soup recipes for you to try:
- Kitchen sink soup
- Green papaya fish soup
- Kale, tomato, and white bean soup
- Pho packed with spinach and bok choy
Another creative way to eat more veggies is by making pasta-free zucchini lasagna.
Traditional lasagna is a pasta-based dish made by layering lasagna noodles with sauce, cheese, and meat. It’s tasty, but it’s also typically very high in carbs and doesn’t come with veggies automatically.
A great way to prepare this delicious dish so that it has a lower carb content and more nutrients is to replace the lasagna noodles with strips of zucchini.
Zucchini is a rich source of B vitamins and vitamin C, in addition to trace minerals and fiber (
Take your favorite lasagna recipe and replace those noodles with strips of zucchini sliced with a vegetable peeler. Tip: Salt the zucchini, let it sit for 15 minutes, and pat it dry with a paper towel to draw out the extra water.
Veggie noodles are easy to make, and a great way to get more veggies in your eating plan. They’re also an excellent low carb substitute for high carb foods, such as pasta.
They’re made by inserting vegetables into a spiralizer, which processes them into noodle-like shapes. You can also:
- shred them
- slice them with a mandoline
- just cut them up as you please
You can use a spiralizer for almost any type of vegetable. They’re commonly used for zucchini, carrots, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes, all of which come packed with extra nutrients.
Once the “noodles” are made, they can be consumed just like pasta and combined with sauces, other vegetables, or meat.
Here are some veggie noodle recipes for you to try:
Adding extra vegetables to your sauces and dressings is a sneaky way to increase your veggie intake, especially if you have picky kids.
While you’re cooking sauces, such as marinara sauce, simply add some veggies and herbs of your choice to the mix, such as chopped onions, carrots, bell peppers, and leafy greens like spinach.
Pureeing roasted root vegetables can make for rich sauces with an Alfredo-like feel. Think carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, purple yam, beets, and kohlrabi.
Try making pesto with roasted beets for the most vibrant dish ever.
Cauliflower is extremely versatile. You can rice it, roast it, stick it in a stew, puree it for silky goodness, and make it into a pizza crust.
Replacing a regular, flour-based pizza crust with a cauliflower crust is as easy as combining finely chopped and drained cauliflower with eggs, almond flour, and some seasonings.
You can then add your own toppings, such as fresh veggies, tomato sauce, and cheese.
A cup (100 grams) of cauliflower contains only about 5 grams of carbs and 26 calories, in addition to lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (
Smoothies make for a refreshing breakfast or snack. Green smoothies in particular are very popular for hiding loads of leafy greens in fruity packages.
Typically, they’re made by combining fruit with ice, milk, or water in a blender. However, you can also add veggies to smoothies without compromising the flavor.
Fresh, leafy greens are common smoothie additions, such as in this recipe, which combines kale with blueberries, bananas, and cucumber.
Just 1 loosely packed cup (25 grams) of spinach contains more than a full day’s recommended amount of vitamin K and half of the recommended amount of vitamin A.
The same serving of kale also provides high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and lots of vitamin K (
In addition, frozen zucchini, pumpkin, beets, avocado, and sweet potatoes work well blended into smoothies. Here are some to try:
Including extra veggies in casseroles is an efficient way to increase your veggie intake. They add bulk, texture, and taste all at once.
Casseroles often combine meats with vegetables, cheese, potatoes, and a grain, such as rice or pasta. As you might expect, traditional casseroles are typically very high in refined carbs and calories.
They’re especially common around the holidays when vegetables may be less popular than other dishes.
Luckily, you can reduce calories and carbs in your casseroles by replacing the grains with veggies, such as broccoli, mushrooms, celery, or carrots. A healthier green bean casserole is particularly familiar and popular.
In addition to good amounts of vitamins and minerals, 1 cup of raw green beans contains 33 micrograms (mcg) of folate, a necessary B vitamin (
Omelets are an easy and versatile way to add veggies into your meal plan. Plus, eggs add lots of good nutrients, too.
Cook up some beaten eggs with a small amount of butter or oil in a pan, and then fold them around a filling that often includes cheese, meat, vegetables, or a combination of the three.
Any type of veggie tastes great in omelets and you can really load them up for lots of nutrition. Spinach, onions, scallions, bok choy, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes are common additions. Here are some to try:
Oats don’t have to be sweet. Savory oatmeal can add more veggies into your morning.
While it’s great with fresh fruit, raisins, or cinnamon, you can also add in eggs, spices, and lots of veggies.
This recipe for savory oatmeal includes mushrooms and kale for a hearty and warm meal.
We already know kale brings good nutrition, but mushrooms do, too. They are high in protein, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. This makes them an especially great addition to a plant-based eating plan (
Using lettuce as a wrap or certain veggies as buns in place of tortillas and bread is an easy way to eat more veggies.
Lettuce wraps can be a part of several types of dishes and are often used to make low carb sandwiches and bunless burgers.
Additionally, many types of veggies, such as portobello mushroom caps, sliced sweet potatoes, halved red or yellow peppers, tomato halves, and sliced eggplant make excellent buns.
Lettuce wraps and veggie buns are an easy way to reduce your calorie intake, as one lettuce leaf contains only one calorie. Refined bread is much higher in calories (
Here are a few places to start with lettuce wraps and veggie buns:
Veggie kebabs pack lots of flavor onto a party-ready stick.
To make them, place chopped vegetables of your choice on a skewer and cook on a grill or barbecue.
Bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes work well for kebabs. Try these Cajun-style shrimp and bell pepper kebabs and layer in all the veggies you want.
Veggie burgers are an easy swap for heavier meat burgers and can be topped with even more vegetables.
Veggie burger patties can be made by combining vegetables with eggs, nuts or nut flours, and seasonings. Sweet potatoes and black beans are also commonly used to make veggie burgers.
Note that not all meat-free burgers are full of veggies. Watch the labels to find some that have veggies as their main ingredients.
You can take these recipes a step further by wrapping your veggie burger in a lettuce wrap, instead of a bun.
In general, tuna (or chicken or salmon) salad is made by blending tuna with mayonnaise, but any type of chopped vegetable can be added to increase the flavor and nutrient content.
Onions, carrots, cucumber, spinach, and herbs are common additions. This Mediterranean tuna salad has cucumbers, grape tomatoes, olives, red peppers, artichokes, shallots, and parsley.
Stuffed bell peppers are made by stuffing halved bell peppers with cooked meat, beans, rice, and seasonings, and then baking them in the oven.
If you like them raw and crisp, you can add in layers of cream cheese, sliced chicken or turkey, and seasonings for a cold dish.
Bell peppers are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A and C (
You can increase the nutrition content of stuffed bell peppers by including even more extra veggies. Add in some onions, spinach, or riced cauliflower to this Italian-style stuffed pepper recipe.
Guacamole is an avocado-based dip made by mashing ripe avocados and sea salt together with lemon or lime juice, garlic, and additional seasonings. But you don’t have to stop there.
A variety of vegetables taste great when incorporated into guacamole. Bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and onions are good options. Plus, guacamole makes a delicious topper to salads and baked sweet or white potatoes.
This kale guacamole recipe uses the good greens as well as cilantro and salsa verde.
Meatloaf can also be a vehicle for more vegetables. It’s usually made with a combination of ground meat and other ingredients, such as eggs, breadcrumbs, and tomato sauce. It’s then molded into the shape of a loaf, which is where it gets its name.
You can add just about any type of chopped vegetable to meatloaf, including onions, bell peppers, carrots, zucchini, and greens like spinach.
Additionally, you can make “meatloaf” that’s completely veggie-based, including chickpeas, carrots, onions, and celery. The chickpeas will replace the meat and still feel hearty.
Cauliflower rice is made by pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor into small granules. You can then use it raw or cooked as a substitute for regular rice. It serves as a base for other foods and bulks up stews and soups.
Cauliflower rice is significantly lower in carbs than regular rice, with only 5 grams of carbs per cup, compared to 53 grams in a cup of white rice (
Additionally, cauliflower is particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and potassium (
Don’t forget: You can also “rice” other vegetables like broccoli, beets, carrots, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.
There are so many ways to add vegetables to everyday food items. Some can sneak right into recipes without a lot of drama (like spinach) and some add color and flavor in ways you’d never expect (like beets and sweet potatoes).
Adding to a dish is great, but sometimes veggies can become the star as your sandwich bun or rice.
Tip: If you don’t like a certain vegetable that you’ve only tried boiled, give roasting a try. So many people who hate boiled Brussels sprouts end up loving roasted or sauteed sprouts.
By making veggies a regular part of your eating habits, you’ll significantly increase your intake of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants.