Your eyes meet your plate. Pupils dilate to accommodate a cornucopia of impossibly bright colors. Freshly steamed vegetables explode with oranges, greens, reds; a masterpiece that only Mother Nature could create. Your salivary glands prepare to devour a medley of beta carotenes, antioxidants, phytochemicals and ﬁber. Your cells hum in excitement for the vitality they will soon glean and use for healing and growth. Your teeth crunch, stomach delights and brain basks in nutrients that they long for every day.
Have I convinced you that you should eat more vegetables? Great. Now here are some easy ways to get everyone in the family basking in those nutrients, perhaps without even knowing it.
1) Chop Chop Chop
When my husband makes dinner and is feeling motivated to get lots of veggies into our boys, he starts chopping like crazy. When vegetables are chopped up very well they seem to just melt into the background of a dish. We add ﬁnely chopped vegetables to eggs, pasta sauce, rice dishes, savory pancakes and basically anywhere we can put them. Just saute up onions, garlic and tons of chopped veggies and they are ready to go just about everywhere!
2) Let Thy Vegetable Be Thy Vehicle
Most people love to dip things. Consider using vegetables instead of chips or bread to carry your favorite dippables like hummus, black bean dip, salsa, salad dressing, nut butters, tuna salad, egg salad and more. If you put out a bunch of fresh vegetables in bite sized pieces with something fun to dip them in, you may ﬁnd everyone standing around eating a saladʼs worth of raw vegetables without even noticing. I like to put out fresh veggies and dip when the kids start to swarm around looking hungry while we are
ﬁnishing up dinner prep. Venture beyond carrots and celery into jicama, broccoli stems (with tough skin peeled), kohlrabi, young beets sliced thinly and sugar snap peas.
Some vegetables can hold quite a lot of good stuff, such as romaine lettuce, cabbage leaves and the inside of a whole pepper. A seaweed nori wrap is an excellent carrier for just about anything — and is portable to boot.
3) OK, Hide Them If You Must
I am not really in to hiding vegetables since my goal is to teach kids all about veggies, however I admit, sometimes I just have to sneak them in. My method of deception – using the blender!
Many people are amazed to learn that you can throw a huge handful of spinach or kale into a smoothie and it goes totally unnoticed. (Itʼs amazing, really). Vegetable soups can be scooped into the blender, pulverized and then added right back to the pot (or you can use an immersion blender – a positively awesome invention!). If you’re feeling really sneaky you can add smooshed carrots to mac nʼ cheese or spinach to brownies. 🙂
5) A Vegetable by Any Other Name is Still a Vegetable
Sometimes vegetables can act like something else all together. Here are some fun examples:
Cali-Mash – Use cauliﬂower instead of potatoes for a creamy “mashed potato” experience.
Green Chips – Baked kale chips are a favorite snack of many kids. Simply strip the kale into pieces, toss in olive oil and salt and bake for about 20 minutes. The little ones will devour a whole head of kale before your eyes!
Fiesta Pasta – I just named this one last night since we made it with a mexican enchilada sauce, but any sauce will do. This is a genius one- you use raw zucchini, shaved into long strips with a peeler and voila, you have zucchini noodles! They can be eaten raw or slightly cooked with your sauce of choice. Our kids slurp them all up just like their beloved pasta.
Image courtesy NorwichNuts