4 Surefire Ways to Sneak More Veggies Into Your Meals

4 Surefire Ways to Sneak More Veggies Into Your Meals
Getty

I’m just gonna say it: there are some of us that never got over the fear and loathing of vegetables. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate vegetables anymore, but I also still don’t particularly like them. This means that I’ve spent most of my adult life eating far fewer vegetables than I’d like to admit. Most of my attempts at giving my body more veg have resulted in a mound of sad vegetables languishing in the depths of my fridge, just begging to be rescued.

But don’t worry, there’s hope for people like us. As someone who has recently tried (and succeeded!) in including more of those pesky greens in my diet for nutritional, ethical and environmental reasons, I’ve found that the best way to approach it is as you would for a toddler: hide them, treat it like a game, work on the texture and make them more exciting.

Ahead, here are my tried-and-true methods for tricking myself into eating (and dare I say loving) vegetables, with no zoodles in sight.

4 ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet

vegetable cooking
Hide those greens in your cooking and actually enjoy them. Getty

Hide them

If you’re looking for a foolproof way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, disguising them as ‘not vegetables’ is the way to go. No one’s ever going to convince me that celery is anything but the blandest stick of fibrous husk, but if I can hide some in a soup, I’ll eat it. I have to get a bit creative sometimes, but most hearty pasta sauces can easily withstand a few handfuls of spinach, a cup of peas or even some leek action.

Omelettes will sing the more vegetables you add to them – think onions, mushrooms, capsicum, spinach – or hell, even all of the above. Similarly, a green smoothie is delicious (and makes you feel oh-so-virtuous) when all you’ve done is add in about half a cup of spinach – and no, you can’t really taste it.

The difference is barely noticeable, but before you know it, you’ll have scoffed down your greens without the threat of missing out on dessert.

Treat it like a game

If you’re the kind of person that likes a challenge, try a week of eating different colours of vegetables (and fruit, if you want) each day. I try to include at least three – that way, I’m not eating the same thing every day and it’s a fun way to get used to incorporating more veggies into your diet.

You’ll quickly start noticing that without them, our food is actually quite monochromatic. Bonus: eating a variety of coloured vegetables every day will help ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and other nutrients that your diet needs.

Make the texture more interesting

Learning how to make veggies more appetising isn’t just a matter of taste. It also has to do with texture. I’ve found that the best way to eat greens that haven’t already been disguised is to crisp them up in an air fryer. You’d be surprised at the number of vegetables that can easily become moreish if you crisp them up – cauliflower (topped with a bit of tahini dressing), broccoli (with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top), sweet potato chips (go ahead and serve them with some aioli, why not), asparagus (with garlic salt) and even the dreaded Brussels sprouts, jazzed up with some pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar.

If crispy isn’t your vibe, or you don’t have an air fryer, you can make an epic baba ganoush (a smoky eggplant dip that really doesn’t taste like eggplant), or shakshuka (which has eggs baked in a zesty tomato and capsicum base).

Make them exciting

I know, I know, just when we were becoming friends (and you don’t win friends with salad), here I am, trying to convince you that vegetables can be exciting.

Hear me out: while you’re trying to add more veg into your diet, it’s probably not the best time to also quit carbs, dairy and fat. Which means that if your stomach can take it, introduce yourself to vegetarian meals (aka veggies only! No meat allowed!) by allowing them to be indulgent.

So go ahead and slather that eggplant parmigiana with some extra mozzarella. Sprinkle some delicious fried onions on your stirfry. Add some extra cream to your pumpkin soup. Bathe your mushroom and leek quiche in butter. Once you realise that the hero ingredients can be quite delicious, you can work on the rest later, if you want.

Zahra Campbell-Avenell is the Head of Editorial for Refinery29 Australia. She has written widely on topics including career and personal development, travel, money and women’s financial wellbeing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and English from Georgetown University in Washington DC, and has lived in Sydney, Australia for the last 12 years.

Log in to comment on this story!