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While people will argue whether red meat, grains, fruit, dairy, and a multitude of other foods should be removed with prejudice from your diet, most diets agree that vegetables are good for you and that you should eat more of them. This food pyramid category also happens to be one of the only ones people will actually tell you to eat more of, because while people often overeat, it's usually not on a bowl of veggies.
Why? Well, a lot of people just don't like vegetables. They don't contain much sugar, they don't have that inherent saltiness or flavor that meats contain, and many are bitter. You can also really cook a vegetable wrong, and the texture affects the experience of eating the thing. Mushy asparagus saddens the soul, and stringy sweet potato is no one's friend.
That being said, they're important to our diet. Various vitamins and minerals are found mostly in vegetables, and fiber keeps us full longer and regular.
Here are some simple, easy ways to add veggies to your diet without feeling like you're eating a giant salad.
Blend Them Up
The easiest way to consume anything without noticing is to make them virtually impossible to recognize. That's where a good blender or food processor comes in handy.
Spinach, kale, and celery are all great sneaky additions to a smoothie or smoothie bowl. The bitterness in spinach and kale are masked by the sweeter fruit flavors, such as pineapple or banana, and the celery loses the stringiness that made it unappetizing in the first place. You can also add avocado to a smoothie for satiating healthy fats, fiber, and creaminess.
Using an immersive or regular blender to create a creamy soup can also be a great idea. Make sure to simmer and soften your veggies first, and you'll end up with a delicious and nutritious bowl of veggies.
Experimentation is always great as well. For instance, vegan mac & cheese sauce uses potatoes, carrots, and onions as its main base, along with several key spices. Similarly, some recipes can use blended cauliflower for a silky, creamy sauce to displace some of the fats and calories in cream and butter sauces.
If you're looking for a great blender, I recommend the Ninja blender. Smoothies are easy—just blend then screw a lid on for on-the-go sipping. The size of the container is sufficient for most smoothies, soups, and sauces, and the speed ensures that you can even blend tough or hard foods into a smooth, even consistency.
If you like the vinegary, crunchy taste and texture of a pickle, try pickling some of your veggies. Personally, I'm a fan of pickled okra since it doesn't have the slime factor that pops up in the stewed and fried varieties. Some veggies, like cabbage, can naturally ferment and sour to create condiments like sauerkraut (which also has tons of great probiotics to keep your gut healthy!), while others need a vinegar and sugar solution. Boil the mixture before pouring it over a jar of vegetables and let it sit. Carrots, red onions, and beets are just a few veggies that you can pickle.
Mix with Grains
If you add them to pasta, rice, quinoa, and other similar foods, you can bulk up your food volume without feeling like you're eating a bowl of nothing but veggies.
A simple way to do this is to add a bag of frozen mixed vegetables to a hot pan of fried rice. It doesn't even taste like you're eating your veggies, but you're still getting your nutrition.
I always recommend adding in extra veggies to your spaghetti sauce, because all of the flavors meld together so that it's hard to tell one thing from another. Great vegetables to add include grated carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, celery, diced green peppers, and diced onions.
Similarly, adding to quinoa, ramen noodles, hash browns, and other starchy foods will help downplay the flavors and textures you may initially dislike.
Cut Them Up
Somewhat with the grains trick, the easiest way to eat vegetables without knowing is to cut them finely and toss them into a dish.
The problem with that? Unless you're a professional chef, your knife skills are probably just average, and dicing up every vegetable takes a long time. If you're not up to chopping veggies for several hours, consider getting a dicer. You get nice, consistent cuts, and you just need to chop the veggies so they can fit in the dicer. Also, the little container keeps you from chasing the bits with your knife.
This is great for making a frittata, quiche, or egg scramble - just toss the veggies in for 5 minutes or so before adding your eggs. Similarly, cooking with some spices, and some tomatoes, coconut milk, or tangy sauce can create some delicious chili, curry, or stir-fry that you can pair with some protein.
Working in more vegetables into your diet keeps you healthy and energized, but you don't need to chew through a bowl of salad or snack on a celery stalk to get the goods in you. Besides, food is more fun when you experiment.