How to Make Veggies Less Boring
We know vegetables are the healthiest foods you can eat, but most of us don’t eat enough of them. If the thought of eating plain old steamed broccoli or green beans turns you off to eating vegetables, you aren’t alone. BORING! And the really tasty vegetable dishes like eggplant parmesan, broccoli in cheese sauce or onion rings are loaded with fat and calories. This defeats the purpose of eating veggies. Since veggies are vegetables are loaded with nutrients, it’s important to find ways to make them more appealing. Check out the tips recently graduated dietetic intern Rachel Feldman and I came up with make veggies less boring!
Here are 10 ways to make veggies less boring
- Buy them already prepared … or buy frozen. Sounds silly, but many people don’t eat veggies because they don’t feel like washing/slicing/dicing them. If that is too much (and I totally get it!), take advantage of bags of prewashed salad greens and already cut veggies in your local supermarket. You aren’t being lazy – but smart. Or prep them on the weekends so they’ll be ready for a quick dinner. The last thing you want to do after a long day is to come home and have to wash/slice/dice. Want an alternative option that will last longer? Buy frozen. They tend to be just as nutritious as fresh and are a lot more convenient.
- Sneak them in. Think of creative ways to add them to meals like:
– Stuffing- Stuff into pasta, meat, fish etc.
– Rolling- Roll zucchini into little packages.
– Grate carrots and zucchini and add to burgers and meatloaf
– Puree and add to soups
– Add to chili
- Change the consistency. For some people, veggies in their natural form are boring, but if you change the consistency, they suddenly become appealing. I find this funny but it’s so true! For example, why is spiraled zucchini so much more fun than sliced zucchini? Many grocery stores offer veggies already riced or you can buy them frozen this way. We love Green Giant and Trader Joes spiralized and riced veggies.
Spiralizing. Ditch the pasta! Spiralizing vegetables are a great way to increase your intake for the day while still having that pasta mouth feel. You can buy an electric spiralizer or a little handheld cone to spiralize veggies for less than $15.
Shredding/ricing. There are many things you can do with shredded and riced veggies. Use it instead of rice for stir-fries, or instead of a grain in your bowl. Other options include riced broccoli tots, shredded cauliflower pizza crust, stir fry cauliflower “rice” and more
- Add flavor with minimal calories. Simple additions can add tons
of flavor to your vegetables for little to no calories at all. Below are some popular flavor additions:
- Flavored vinegars: rice, red wine, apple cider vinegar, fig, tarragon, raspberry, balsamic/white balsamic vinegar. Roast or sauté veggies with a little olive and drizzle with a flavored vinegar (Martha loves fig vinegar) See my previous post on Flavored Vinegars.
- Flavored oils: coconut, sesame oil, olive oil etc. Keep in mind they are 120 calories per Tablespoon, so go easy.
- Spices & seasonings: cumin, chili powder, crushed garlic powder, everything bagel seasoning, etc.
- Herbs: cilantro, thyme, parsley, dill, basil etc.
- Dressings: low fat ranch etc.
- Citrus: lemon or lime juice
- Cheese: 3 T. parm has only 66 calories and ¼ cup shred part skim mozz has 80 calories.
- Go red with salsa (only 30 cal for 3 T), marinara sauce (with no sugar added has 90 cal per ½ cup ) or canned tomatoes.
- Simply Beyond Spray-On-Herbs The perfect solution to jazz up your veggies with no calories, sodium or carbs – spray on herbs! In addition to herbs, they also have herbs, they also have spray on fruit vinegars and spice
- Sauces: hot sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki (get low sodium for both), sriracha, bbq/ketchup (low sugar), pesto, stir-fry sauce. Try these flavored srirachas by Musashi foods . Martha likes San J spicy hot Szechuan sauce to make stir-fries (when she is too lazy to make a real sauce) and Thai Kitchen Curry Paste
*(Be careful as some of these commercial products contain added sugar and lots of sodium. Make sure to read food labels)
- Cook with broth: Cooking in broth instead of water adds a ton of flavor to your veggies. Next time you boil sweet potatoes for example, boil them in veggie or meat broth of your choice! This not only adds flavor but keeps added calories low. If sodium is an issue, get low sodium broth. Look for fresh broth or premade in a can, carton or bouillon cube.
- Dip: Blending your favorite veggies is a great way to get more nutrients into your diet for maximum taste. Be sure to eat these dips with chopped up veggies or low carb chips. Additionally, if you’re eating chips beware of portion sizes as traditional chips and crackers contain a lot of calories!
- Eggplant dip
- Creamy cauliflower dip
- Black bean and herb
- Tomato spread with feta and olive oil
- Cucumber Greek yogurt
- Sweet potato miso
- Artichoke dip
- Beet hummus
- Butternut squash dip
- Sweet pea spread
- Roasted carrot dip
- Southwest corn black bean dip
- Add to smoothies. Adding spinach, kale or any kind of dark leafy greens to your smoothie increases the nutrient content exponentially! When added to fruit, the taste of the greens is masked and you don’t even know they are there. Pic is of Rachel with her favorite green smoothies
- Vary your cooking methods. Changing up your cooking method can really elevate your dish. Some popular methods include:
- Baking/Roasting- Cut them up into similar sized pieces, add a spritz of olive oil, salt, pepper and roast on a sheet pan at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.
- Sautéing – Coat a pan first with a nonstick spray (i.e. coconut oil or olive oil) then add a little of the real oil. It helps you to use less oil.
- Charring- Don’t be afraid of slightly “burnt” veggies. The char and color adds a nice smoky flavor!
- Steaming- Great way to soften veggies without added oil or butter. Invest in a veggie steamer. But avoid boiling (unless you are making soup and will use the liquid) as you lose many of the nutrients in the water.
- Grilling- Grilled veggies such as eggplant and tomatoes taste so much better when grilled vs steamed.
- Shop Local. Farmers markets are a great place to get high quality produce. High quality produce will enhance the flavor of the produce naturally, even before cooking. In New York City, there are a ton of farmers markets. Find one closest to you here and here.
- Try our some of our favorite recipes below ….
Some of our favorite veggie recipes:
See my blog posts below on cauliflower and zucchini noodle rice recipes
I‘d like to thank Rachel Feldman for working on this blog post with me. Rachel Feldman is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. Rachel is a recent grad from Dietetic Intern with Priority Nutrition Care Distance Dietetic Internship. She enjoys hiking, cooking, yoga and has been following a vegetarian diet for the past 3 years.
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.