I consider myself a pretty health-conscious person, but I have one heckuva time trying to eat my veggies. I know I need them; I make my kids eat them; they are just not a part of my daily diet.
After years of unsuccessfully trying to enjoy salads, I accepted the fact that I am just not a salad person, and was going to have to find other ways to get my 5-8 daily servings of vegetables.
I started scouring books and websites for vegetable recipes, experimenting in the kitchen, and finally I came up with 3 weeks’ worth of delicious ways to eat veggies. After using one of these recipes every day, I can honestly say that I love veggies. Here are my favorites:
- Mashed cauliflower: I’m sure you’ve seen zillions of mashed cauliflower recipes since they became big a couple of years ago. There are a couple of tricks to making them – believe me, I’ve tried a lot of variations, and you have to make them just right, or it just tastes like mushy cauliflower. First, break one medium-sized head of cauliflower into pieces and boil for about 5 minutes. Then “mash” them with either a Kitchenaid mixer or a food processor (this part is important – “mashing” them any other way makes an odd texture – you want them to be pureed, not chopped). Add in ½ cup milk, or ½ cup softened cream cheese (or cream cheese substitute if you don’t eat dairy), and “mash” again. From there, you have your base, and you can add anything you would like: butter, minced garlic or garlic powder, chives, cheese, salt, pepper, or sour cream.
- Marinated veggies: after cooking for a few years, I started using a lot of spices. I found that you can make almost anything taste good and keep it healthy using the right spices. First, chop up your choice of veggies. The best veggies for this type of recipe are usually carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, squash, and mushrooms. You should have about 2 cups of chopped veggies. In a medium bowl, combine 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add the veggies so that they are covered in the marinade. Cover them and let them sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, remove the veggies and they’ll be ready to eat.
- Kale chips: if you haven’t tried kale chips yet, I have to tell you that you are seriously missing out. I actually have some in the oven right now. I think they’re better than potato chips. First, wash a head of kale (some say that you don’t have to wash it because the bacteria will die when it’s baked, which makes sense, but I’m not sure if it’s completely accurate, so for now I still wash mine). Let it dry completely – while it’s drying you can preheat the oven to 275. Break the kale leaves into large pieces. Mix the pieces in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and mix again. Cook at 275 degrees for 15 minutes, turn the chips over, and cook for an additional 15 minutes. You can experiment with these – I’ve had success with sprinkling them with lemon juice, garlic salt, and black pepper. I like spicy food, so I also sometimes sprinkle a little bit of cayenne pepper on them. Here are 10 additional variations on kale chips: Refinery 29: Kale Chips
- Brussel sprout chips: these are exactly like kale chips, but made with brussel sprouts. In fact, a lot of people prefer brussel sprout chips to kale chips. You make them just as you would make the kale chips, but you bake them at 400, for about 10 minutes, or until they start to brown.
- Sauteed asparagus: saute asparagus in a pan with olive oil. This is a simple, quick recipe – it only takes about 10 minutes and makes a great side.
- Buffalo cauliflower bites: this recipe is one of my favorites since I looooove buffalo wings. It’s a variation of this recipe – Mom Endeavors: Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. Preheat oven to 450. Either grease a cookie sheet, or cover it with parchment paper. Cut the cauliflower into florets. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together ½ cup water, ½ cup milk (you can substitute almond milk, rice milk, or coconut milk), 1 cup flour (you can substitute rice flour, coconut flour, or almond flour), and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Coat each floret in the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges begin browning. While they are baking, mix together 1 tablespoon butter or ghee with ¾ cup Frank’s hot sauce (trust me, don’t use another kind of hot sauce, stick with Frank’s). Take the florets out of the oven and pour the hot sauce mixture over them. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes. If you’d like a strong flavor, you can marinade the florets in the butter and hot sauce for 12 or more hours before following this recipe.
- Cauliflower pizza crust: this recipe was shared at one of my link parties a few weeks ago, and it’s amazing. This is a slight variation on that one, which you can find here: A Bright and Beautiful Life: Cauliflower Crust Pizza. Please note that the picture below is from this site as well. First, preheat the oven to 450. Then take 1 large head of cauliflower and shred it, but do not puree it. Then microwave it for 10-12 minutes. Once it cools, add in 3 eggs, 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, and ½ cup romano cheese – you may also use egg substitute or cheese substitute. Add 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon onion salt – mix well. Spread the mixture evenly in a pizza pan and bake for 15 minutes. Then add the toppings as you would like, such as pizza sauce, cheese, and of course, additional veggies! Bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese is starting to turn brown and bubble.
- Roasted broccoli: roasting veggies has seemed to have gotten pretty popular, especially for those who follow Barefoot Contessa. This recipe is a slight variation of the roasted broccoli recipe found here: Amateur Gourmet: The Best Broccoli – First, preheat the oven to 425. Take 2 large bunches of broccoli, wash them, and then let them dry COMPLETELY. Break them off into individual florets, and put the florets into a freezer bag. Add 5 tablespoons olive oil, 1.5 teaspoons sea salt, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, and 6 chopped garlic cloves. Close the bag and shake it until thoroughly mixed. Then roast it in the oven for 25 minutes, or until the tips of the florets are starting to brown. Take it out of the oven and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the broccoli. Then add an additional 1.5 tbsp olive oil, 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons grated basil.
- Zucchini bites: these are great for kids because they are like healthy tater tots. It is adapted from the recipe found here: Curious Country Cook: Zucchini Tots First, preheat the oven to 325. Then grate 1 cup zucchini. Use a strong paper towel to soak out all of the water – this step is important! Add the zucchini to a large bowl and add 1 egg, ¼ cup yellow onion (diced), ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon parsley, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix well. Grease a muffin tin, and then fill with the mixture. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the tops are browned.
- Cucumber bites: this is a very easy and quick side, or a snack in itself. First, chop a baby cucumber and put into medium-sized bowl. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder.
- Cucumber and feta: this recipe is similar to the cucumber bites, above, but with different additions. First, chop 1 cucumber into small, bite sized cubes. Put into medium-sized bowl and add 1 table spoon olive oil, 1/3 cup feta cheese, and a splash of lemon juice.
- Carrot and zucchini fries: simply said, these are delicious. This is a slight twist on the recipe found here: Voracious Vander: The Best Way to Cook Zucchini and Carrots. First, preheat the oven to 220. Cut carrots and zucchini into long “fries”. Put the veggies into a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your choice of additional spices. My favorites are crushed red pepper and thyme, but you can get creative and try different varieties. Spread the veggies over a greased or lined cookie sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Turn all the veggies, and roast for a n additional 10 minutes, or until they start to brown.
- Baked zucchini fries: these are similar to the carrot and zucchini fries above, but are breaded, rather than sprinkled with spices. It is adapted from this recipe: Fun and Food Cafe: Fried Zucchini. First preheat the oven to 450. Then cut 3 zucchinis into long “fries”. Set aside, and put the following into a freezer bag: ¾ cup flour or bread crumbs, your choice of spices (some of the best are thyme, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley flakes). Then crack an egg into a bowl and whisk it well. Dip the zucchini fries into the egg to coat well, then shake around well in the freezer bag until they are “breaded.” Put the fries on a greased or lined cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
- Grilled shish kabobs: cut large pieces of your choice of veggies. My favorites for shish kabobs are mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and onions. Put the large pieces on skewers and grill until lightly browned.
- Fresh vegetable soup: there is certainly no shortage of awesome vegetable soup recipes (if you have one, please leave it in the comments!), this is just one of my favorites. It is slightly changed from this recipe: Gluten Free Goddess: Spicy Vegetable Soup. Again, I like spicy food, so this may not be for everybody. It’s pretty simple, you just need to throw all, or your choice of some, of the following ingredients in the crock pot: 2 tablespoons olive oil (use this to coat the bottom of the crock pot), 1 medium red onion, 4 cloves chopped garlic, 2 medium chopped zucchini squash, 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes with juice, ½ cup chopped roasted green chiles, 2 cups broth, ½ cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon agave nectar, and the juice of one lime.
- Salsa: you have to be careful here, as not all salsas are healthy. The healthiest, and most delicious, salsas are homemade with veggies from your own garden. However, if you purchase a salsa that is healthy and does not have additives, that would be perfectly fine too. Either way, it delivers many servings of veggies. I would not eat it with chips of course, but you can put it on an entrée – such as fish or chicken, put it on top of eggs, or use it as a dip for veggies.
- Green smoothie: First use a base of 2 cups of your choice of milk (such as cow’s milk, rice milk, coconut milk, or almond milk). Put this in a blender and add 4 ice cubes, and any of the following, if you would like: greek yogurt, peanut or almond butter, and protein powder. You can then add any veggies you would like – green leafy veggies, such as spinach or kale, usually work best. I would highly recommend adding at least one type of fruit as well, or it will likely not taste very good.
- Stuffed mushrooms: first preheat the oven to 350. Then, remove the stems from 12 mushrooms. In a medium bowl, mix together chopped mushroom stems, onions, bell peppers, and any other veggies that you would like. In a pan, sauté the mixture in olive oil. Once the veggies are slightly clear, remove them from heat, and when cooled, stuff them into the mushroom caps. Bake the mushrooms for 25 minutes.
- Veggies and dip: rather than dipping veggies in unhealthy dressing, dip them in hummus or guacamole.
- Veggie “sandwiches”: there are a variety of veggie sandwiches you can make. For instance, you can use Portobello mushrooms or eggplant slices in place of bread, and then fill you’re your choice of veggies, meats, and cheeses. Here is a recipe for Veggie Neopolean from Proud Italian Cook: Veggie Napolean (please note that this is her picture as well). In this recipe, the base was a Portobello mushroom. It was topped with Yukon gold potatoes, carmelized onions, roasted red peppers, parmesan cheese, sliced sweet potatoes, eggplant, kale, and green beans. You can also use other types of cheese such as fontina or goat cheese. First, cook the veggies in your preferred method – you may steam them, roast them, or cook them in olive oil on the stove. Once they are cooked, you can just create your sandwich with your chosen ingredients. By the way, I would recommend going to the Proud Italian Cook site – she has many awesome vegetable and non-vegetable recipes.
- Add to an entrée recipe: rather than making a separate veggie side, you can also just add veggies into a recipe that you already make. Meals that work well for incorporating veggies are pasta sauce, meatloaf, lasagna and chili. The trick is to finely chop them before adding them into the mix. The Sneaky Chef has some great recipes for ways to sneak veggies into food you already make.