Sneak Vegetables into Your Family’s Diet
There’s no denying we need vegetables. They’re rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and important phytochemicals, and they’re generally low in calories. So what’s a vegetable-hater to do? Here are some tips to get you on the road to enjoying vegetables.
1. Add veggies you almost like to dishes you already love. Layer zucchini slices into lasagna. Stir broccoli florets into macaroni and cheese. Toss tomatoes into an omelet. Slide peppers into a cheese quesadilla.
2. Try them in soup. Embellish your favorite soups, fresh or canned, with added veggies. Just add raw or frozen vegetables while you’re heating or cooking the soup.
3. Tuck them into salads. Load your salads with as many raw veggies as you can: cucumber, grated carrots, zucchini, green beans, onions, radishes, jicama, tomato, etc. Or try spinach leaves instead of lettuce.
4. Serve them raw. Raw can bring out the best in vegetables that have a strong taste when cooked, such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, or spinach. Add some store-bought, low-fat dip or make your own.
5. Sneak them into spaghetti. Add finely chopped zucchini, mushroom, onions, eggplant, or yellow squash to spaghetti sauce. The smaller you chop them, the less likely you are to notice they’re there.
6. Have fun! Certain vegetables are just more fun to eat than others. Try corn-on-the-cob wheels (slice cooked corn into 1-inch thick disks), fill celery sticks with peanut butter or light cream cheese, or enjoy a zucchini or bell pepper with a savory filling.
7. Drink up. Try V-8 or carrot juice. Or blend some carrot juice with a fruit juice you enjoy, such as orange or tangerine.
8. Pizza pizzazz. Top your pizza with any combination: tomato, onion, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, and artichoke hearts.
Decorated food is fun for kids too. Animal faces made from raisins or little pieces of fruit or sliced black olives can adorn everything from peanut butter on bread to pancakes. Get creative: Arms and legs can be made from carrot and/or celery sticks; baby carrots make big, funny noses; raisins, blueberries, or sliced black olives become eyes. Use your imagination.
The Soda Monster got his stranglehold on your family’s palate? Make your own soft drinks by topping off glasses of real juice — not juice drinks — with bubbly soda water. Voila! All of the nutrition and none of the caffeine or sugar.
Or serve smoothies (and call them milk shakes). These can be as involved or as simple as you like. A sliced banana, a little vanilla extract, and a cup of milk whirled around in the blender is a real treat, even for a grownup. Add a handful of strawberries, and you’ve got one of those drinks they charge $4 for at the health food store.
Finally, there’s a not-so-sneaky way to get more healthful food into your family’s diet: Simply give them what they like. Ask every family member to make a list of the foods they love — excluding junk food, of course — and try to have that food available for that person as often as you can.