It can be easy to say, “I’m going to eat more vegetables.” But when it comes down to it, many of us fall short of our daily needs. Pack in the veggies, and the flavor, with these 95 creative ways to boost your meals, drinks, and snacks.
1. Let seasonal produce shine. Our Spring Vegetable Grain Bowl, which uses raw shaved veggies as well as English peas, creates a whole-grain meal packed with nutrients.
2. Plant your own vegetable garden. It’s hard to avoid eating healthier when fresh fruits and veggies are growing in your own backyard.
3. Feature a new vegetable each week. Experiment with new and seasonal vegetables, and invite friends over to try new dishes together.
4. Bag the bread and instead wrap your sandwich inside a leafy green, or try one of these healthy lettuce wrap recipes.
5. Cook more greens. Chef Jenn Louis’ new cookbook The Book of Greens boasts an encyclopedic yet engaging collection of recipes for everything from kale and collards to tatsoi and purslane.
6. Pick your own seasonal produce or visit the farmers’ market for a fun weekend activity to get up close and personal with farmers and their crops.
7. Dine in for date-night dinner. Forget the steak. In our Shiitake and Asparagus Sauté with Poached Eggs recipe, earthy, meaty shiitake mushrooms balance lemony asparagus and a rich, perfectly poached egg for a meal portioned for two.
8. Pack them into pasta sauce. Vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and peas can amp up the flavor and nutrients. Consider starting with our Mostly Veggie Pasta with Sausage recipe. We reverse the typical meat to marinara ratio and use sausage as the flavor agent instead of the base and add in plenty of vegetables.
9. Fish-free sushi isn’t just cheaper to make, it also gives you a chance to really pack in the vegetables. Shiitake mushrooms, avocado, and cucumber are just a few of our favorites.
10. Dress for success by shaking together a few pantry staples to create additive-free, lower-sodium dressings that are perfect for veggie dipping or tossing.
11. Blend them into your favorite smoothie. Check out our Best Green Smoothie Recipes.
12. Add them to eggs. Vegetables make excellent additions to omelets, frittatas, and breakfast sandwiches. Eggs are already a great source of protein, so up the nutrition factor by filling them full of colorful vegetables.
13. Sneak them into your morning muffin. These zucchini muffins make a delicious breakfast on-the-go.
14. Toss them in a stir-fry, like our Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower for a quick and easy dish for Meatless Monday.
15. Save the stalks. Stalks from broccoli and cauliflower are edible and eye-openingly delicious. Save outer peels for stock, and shave the stems into salads, or sauté, roast, or steam them just as you would the florets.
16. Swap your usual salad, and opt for a vegetable salad. We use a mandoline in our Baby Vegetable Salad to create thin, even slices dressed with olive oil, honey, lemon juice, as well as fresh tarragon and dill.
17. Shred up a slaw. Cabbage is the classic go-to, but other veggies like zucchini or bok choy make wonderful slaw side dishes.
18. Amp up your cheese board with the addition of vegetables. Thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes make for excellent palate cleansers, and any pickled veggies will create a balanced board.
19. Buy a CSA Box. Support your community by purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farmers and usually available for weekly delivery.
20. Stir them into a stew. Our saucy Chicken and Poblano Stew with Polenta is a Mexican twist on Italian comfort food, especially when served over creamy polenta.
21. Get juiced by creating drinkable vegetables. Recover from a late night, or just pump up your morning, with flavorful veggie juices. Juicing is a great way to get a serving—or two—of plant-based nutrients in a single glass.
22. Stuff them into sandwiches. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, vegetables also add nice crunch and flavor to sandwiches.
23. Feature them in spring-inspired cakes. Vegetable cakes, that is. We combine zucchini, and shrimp in our Zucchini and Shrimp Cakes then top them with a Snap Pea Relish.
24. Rethink your steak. Go entirely plant-based at dinnertime by opting for Broccoli Steaks or Cauliflower Steaks.
25. Turn them into chips. Whether you’re thinking zucchini, beet, or sweet potato, our healthy homemade chips help you eat more veggies and save you tons of fat and sodium.
26. Learn how to create beautiful salads that are balanced, colorful, and brilliantly simple.
27. Snack your way through dinner with our favorite new trend. Load up a sheet pan with fresh veggies, fruit, and other goodies to make a DIY dish that the whole family will love.
28. Pickle and preserve them. Turn surplus veggies into a quick pickle to use throughout the week—or a sealed batch to last months.
29. Eat by color. Make the effort to eat a colorful diet, and you’ll eat more fruits and vegetables.
30. Savor them in a meatless main, like our Chickpea Panzanella filled with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
31. Adopt a plan-forward approach to Mexican food with smoky salsa, satisfying veggie tacos, and saucy enchiladas.
32. Bake them into a tart or savory pie. By pairing a load of vegetables with a little meat and sauce, you’ve automatically got a filling and nutritious meal.
33. Snack on them as you cook. Toss potato, carrot, and parsnip peels with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until browned and crisp. They’re delicious!
34. Stuff them into lean cuts of meat. High-flavor ingredients like fresh baby spinach embellishes our succulent pork loin in an elegant slow cooker main.
35. Use our cookbook, Everyday Vegetarian: A Delicious Guide for Creating More Than 150 Meatless Dishes for new recipe inspiration.
36. Go frozen. It’s always vegetable season in your freezer, and frozen still boasts stellar nutritional value.
37. Pulverize them for a quick dip. Sweet peas offset the kicky heat of wasabi in our Pea and Wasabi Dip—a zippy alternative to hummus.
38. Swap sweet potatoes for wheat-products. Sweet Potato Crust Quiche is a reader favorite, while thinly slicing the tuber and toasting it can also make for a great gluten-free breakfast option.
39. Make stock. Save tough outer peels and snipped parts of turnips, rutabagas, squash, and beans; mushroom stems; bell pepper scraps; and other odds and ends to make vegetable stock.
40. Whip out waffles to keep your daily vegetable-intake going. Sweet potato waffles can be dressed up to be sweet or savory, and you can always add a bit of shredded zucchini to your family’s favorite recipe for a zucchini bread-like twist.
41. Make over your lasagna. Our healthy veggie lasagna will make your taste buds sing.
42. Designate the start of each week as “Meatless Monday,” and eat only plant-based the entire day.
43. Feature them at your next barbeque. That’s right, throw those veggies on the grill. Our grilled fruit and vegetable recipes showcase some of our tastiest combinations.
44. Make greater gravy by adding in vegetables during the cooking process. Mushrooms and spinach will add rich flavor and texture.
45. Use the whole vegetable. Some veggies, like turnips or beets, are often bought for their roots alone. Utilize their tasty tops too and cook up the greens for extra vegetables at your next meal.
46. Take the pie road. By that, we mean, create healthy homemade pizzas supercharged with veggie toppings that fill nutritional goals for the day.
47. Bake them into your favorite dessert—like Mom’s Rhubarb-Apple Crisp.
48. Double the portions. Double the amount of vegetables in a recipe—when you can—to reach your goals faster. Same goes for portioning out raw fruits and vegetables for snacks.
49. Use them to top your favorite breakfast food.
50. Stir into soups. Take advantage of spring produce (or use up what’s leftover) to create vegetable soups that satisfy any time of year.
51. Turn them into tasty vessels by stuffing vegetables with foods like quinoa, couscous, falafel, and more.
52. Pack veggies into pesto. The food processor will do all the work for you. Make your favorite pesto recipe and add in a handful of spinach or some cooked mild vegetables (zucchini is great) to bulk up the sauce.
53. Keep them visible. Your mind—as well as your body—is responsible for many of the food choices we make, so put fruit and vegetables where you can see them. Research shows where we store food has much to do with what we consume.
54. Fire up the slow cooker. Use your favorite appliance to help you create hands-free vegetable dishes that are sure to please.
55. Fry vegetables into fritters. Whether you go traditional with something like latkes or get adventurous with our Indian-Spiced Pea Fritters recipe, shredding or mashing veggies can create wonderfully crispy cakes.
56. Buy precut vegetables. Snagging veggies that are ready to eat saves on prep times and give you quick options for lunch or snack.
57. Dunk them in your favorite dip. Instead of reaching for chips, try dipping carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers, into hummus, homemade salad dressing, pesto, or peanut butter.
58. Makeover your mash. Make mashed potatoes healthier and creamier by adding roasted cauliflower.
59. Keep track of what you eat. Writing down everything you consume during the day will help you eat more mindfully.
60. Thicken soups and stews with vegetables. Okra is a natural thickener (gumbo, anyone?), and so are starchy foods like potatoes. If a creamy soup is what you desire, blending up cooked corn or cauliflower will result in rich tasting, but still light, dishes.
61. Swap your spaghetti. Try new noodles by spiralizing veggies into long strands. Twirl up a forkful and you won’t even miss the pasta.
62. Set a goal. As a nation, we know we’re not eating enough fruits and veggies. But how much is enough? See our handy guide to learn how much you should be eating based on your age, gender, and physical activity.
63. Mix up your meatloaf and save over 260 calories per serving. Mushrooms and peas are just two of the secret ingredients for a better, plant-packed dish.
64. Start with an appetizer. Start with vegetable soup or a healthy dip paired with vegetable strips. You’ll get an extra portion in and curb your appetite so you don’t overeat.
65. Create a hash by chopping and tossing together almost any veggie you have on hand. Carrots, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and more have a place in this modern meat-and-potatoes dish.
66. Try them dried. Satisfy your cravings for something crunchy by noshing on vegetable chips or dehydrated vegetables. They’re still nutritious and delicious for snacking.
67. Bag them. Portion out baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, cucumber strips, snow peas, bell peppers, and other veggies into individual bags, so they’re easily accessible when hunger strikes.
68. Build a better bolognese with a veggie-packed recipe. Butternut noodles and mushroom-filled sauce can trick even the most refined palate into thinking they’re indulging.
69. Pile them on a potato. Dress potatoes with grilled vegetables, steamed broccoli, caramelized onions and mushrooms, or whatever flavor combinations you love.
70. Char up some flavor by blistering vegetables. Broiling veggies like green beans or asparagus lead to a wonderful extra flavor, without much extra effort.
71. Rethink your rice. Our cauliflower “rice” delivers a light and fluffy texture that you’ll love. Dish it up as a side, serve it with stir-fry, or mix it with homemade sushi.
72. Flip your burger by cooking up a Mushroom-Beef Burger or, even better, a veggie burger.
73. Gussy them up with a glaze. Amp up cooked vegetables by tossing them in a glaze, like sweet chili sauce or thin BBQ, and cooking for a few minutes to create a deliciously thick coating.
74. Build the best bowls by relying more on vegetables than grains or meat. Create a base of cooked or raw veggies, extra points if they’re spiralized, to bulk things up without adding too many calories.
75. Change up Taco Tuesday by focusing on veggie-forward toppings and sides. Skip rice and serve Purslane in Green Salsa or Esquites (Corn Salad) on the side, while topping your main dish with Salsa Chipotle.
76. Take your toast to a new level by adding in veggies. While avocado may be your first choice, it’s actually a fruit. Some great vegetable options are sprouts, chopped cherry tomatoes, cooked kale, shaved carrots, and more.
77. Start the day with a salad. While they might seem the opposite of regular morning fare, breakfast salads are full of fresh flavor (and veggies) while still nodding at tradition by keeping ingredients like eggs and bacon.
78. Cook up a jar of savory jam to use all week long. Our favorite ways are to toss it into pasta salads, top pizzas, and slather on sandwiches.
79. Pair with fruit. Get your daily intake of both fruits and veggies by throwing the two together in dishes like mango salsa, salads, and fruity gazpachos.
80. Make it all in one pot. Nobody wants to make extra dishes so one-pot recipes like Sweet-and-Sour Carrots make the meal, and clean up, so much easier.
81. Choose them for their benefits. It’s easy to cook for taste alone, but getting to know immunity-boosting recipes that rely on ingredients like carrots and mushrooms may just help you through the allergy or flu seasons.
82. Dehydrating vegetables can be the ‘cooking’ option few think of. Either invest in a dehydrator or set your oven at a low temperature to create veggie chips, fruit leathers, and more.
83. Go half and half. Replace half of your main ingredient with veggies, like in Creamy Carrot and Herb Linguine, to bulk up your meal and give you a vegetable boost.
84. Say cheese with a drizzle of decadent sauce which can instantly upgrade a bowl of steamed veggies. Keep it light, but still indulgent feeling, with our healthier cheese sauce.
85. Change up your deviled eggs by blending vegetables in with the creamy filling. This makes a particularly impressive display if you use bright produce like beets or peas.
86. Pep up polenta by blending in creamy white vegetables like cauliflower or turnips.
87. Serve up smoky flavor by using the easy technique of cold smoking on vegetables. Now there’s no need to fire up the grill for amped up veggies.
88. Make the vegetables the dish. Some veggie recipes, like Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, bake into a perfectly packaged dish, making plates totally unnecessary.
89. Roll out the ravioli and make it even better by adding in veggies. Creamy vegetables like butternut squash or pureed spinach make for great pasta fillings.
90. Create caramelized goodness by cooking veggies low-and-slow. The results of this are tender and ultra rich vegetables.
91. Hasselback your next veggie of choice for a fun dinner side. Thinly slice foods like potatoes, zucchini, or even carrots to create an evenly cooked, but lightly crispy, dish.
92. Skip the fries. Next time they ask if you want fries for that, say no, and ask for a salad instead. Or if fries are a must have opt for a healthier version like these Chili-Cheese Spiralizer Fries.
93. Plan ahead. While eating more vegetables may sound fantastic, the reality is that busy schedules often make the daily washing, trimming, chopping, and roasting of fresh food unrealistic. Consider prepping the week’s vegetables over the weekend, so it’s easier for you to grab and cook.
94. Start every meal with a salad. You may not want to eat multiple salads everyday forever, but it’s a great place to start.
95. Make life easier. Invest in a reasonably priced, all-purpose chef’s knife. The sharp tool will make quick and efficient work of any kind of vegetable butchery.
This article originally appeared on CookingLight.com
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