Having trouble getting more vegetables in your diet? Let me show you how to Hide Vegetables in Food!
As a Fitness Specialist for Women the first nutrition habit I often address with a client is getting them to eat more vegetables!
The idea of “eating vegetables” tends to come with an obligatory energy that most people roll their eyes at-it almost reminds you of being reprimanded by your parents, which is probably more unsavory than your perceived flavor of vegetables.
I understand this completely, but your body still needs and deserves the nutrition provided by the vegetables.
That’s why, instead of expecting you to suddenly enjoy sitting down to 5 cups of veg a day, I encourage you to hide vegetables into dishes you know you already love!
As a nutrition coach, I have experimented with this a lot! Here are my 5 favorite ways to sneak vegetables into food…
#1) Chop More Nutrition into a Colorful Salad
Salads are probably the biggest go-to meal for women looking for fat loss or improved health but the sad truth is that not all salads are created equal!
Wedge salad, for example, is often just an entire quarter of a head of lettuce with bacon and dressing-that’s not nutritionally dense or diverse at all.
Instead, opt for a chopped salad where all the ingredients are chopped small (think of pico de gallo) and mixed together so as to create one unified flavor.
This provides you the opportunity to mix in more vegetables in bites small enough not to significantly change the flavor of your salad.
My favorite chopped veggie salad blend is spinach, kale, cucumber, tomato, onion, corn, carrot and purple cabbage.
Chop these ingredients small, toss with your favorite dressing and top with your favorite protein for a filling and nutrient dense salad!
#2) Hide Vegetables Easily in Sauces
Sauces are always recipes in which a blend of flavors is necessary to create the desired dish and that makes it a perfect place to hide vegetables.
This is also the most discreet way to hide vegetables and so makes it perfect for getting your kids to eat more vegetables too!
I like grating vegetables (with a cheese grater) to put into sauces, but you might like to chop it even finer for certain sauces.
Here are some examples of hiding vegetables in sauces:
- Grated zucchini added to a meat ragu sauce for spaghetti night
- Small chopped or grated broccoli added to mac and cheese sauce
- Shredded kale added to chicken tikka masala sauce
- Shredded spinach added to cream sauces for meat or pasta
- Pureed carrot or squash in a tomato sauce
My nutrition coaching clients love these blends because they are almost undetectable and untastable but significantly amplify the nutrition of any dish!
#3) Sneak Your Vegetables into Drinkable Blends
Smoothies are often thought of as a nice fruity, Summer drink but are actually healing foods that offer a big opportunity for nutrition!
Because smoothies are predominantly fruit, juice and/ or yogurt, there is plenty of sweetness to offset the flavor of added vegetables!
When drinking vegetables in a smoothie make sure you are using soft, water-dense vegetables so that you don’t have a fibrous and chewy smoothie!
Here is my favorite smoothie blend which has plenty of vegetables but also tastes like an orange dreamsicle:
- 1 Cup Spinach
- 1/4 Cup Peeled and Chopped Cucumber
- 1 Scoop Green Superfood Powder
- 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
- 1/4 Frozen Berry Mix
- 1 Small Banana
- 1 Cup Orange Juice
- 1/2 Cup Cold Water
Blend thoroughly and enjoy for breakfast, or as an energizing post-workout smoothie!
#4) Hidden in Plain Sight: Veggies in Sautés
Diced vegetables in sautees is similar to the sauces, but we’re not going to cut the veggies as small and we are going to saute them (usually with protein) instead of stew them into a sauce.
This is going to be a little step up in teaching you to enjoy these vegetables because you will be able to see, feel and taste these vegetables slightly.
The size and shape that you are going to cut the vegetables into will depend largely on the dish that they are going into.
To help you get a better idea of what I mean, here are some specific examples of sautés I hide veggies in and how I cut the vegetable:
- Thinly sliced bok choy in wok-fried noodles
- Small diced Mexican Squash sauteed with taco meat
- Thinly sliced bell peppers sauteed with shaved steak meat for sandwich
- Diced eggplant or squash cooked into fried rice
Essentially, you want the vegetable to resemble and contribute to the main texture in an existing dish, but not hide within it.
#5) Vegetables in Disguise as Snacks
This is a personal favorite because I LOVE crunchy foods!
The crispy, crunchy, saltiness of chips and crackers is so stimulating but unfortunately often comes riddled with additives, preservatives, and unhealthy oils.
Swapping out your snacks for more veggie-based snacks is a great way to sneak more vegetables into your daily diet!
Some of my favorite vegetable-based snacks are:
- Dehydrated root vegetable chips
- Crudite with hummus or dip
- Stuffed mini bell peppers
- Cucumbers and Tajin
- Mini Zucchini Pizzas
This is fun because it challenges you to be creative and think about veggies as more than a side dish, but this is also the last step in learning to like your vegetables because you are going to see, feel and taste them most here.
So, what’s the takeaway?
Vegetables are an essential food group that cannot be avoided on your fitness journey!
Whether you are looking for fat loss or muscle gain, the goal with all of these methods is to help you get more vegetables into your diet without making you feel like you are crash dieting.
Remember: your health and fitness is an investment, and your body is worth it!
This article was written by Elexis Smolak CPT, CNC, WFS founder of Adapted Fitness and Integrative Health and Fitness Specialist for Women. Learn more or schedule a virtual coffee at AdaptedToYou.com