Including vegetables in your diet is extremely important. Veggies are incredibly rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which boost your health and help fight off disease. Additionally, they are beneficial for weight control due to their low calorie content.
Health authorities around the world recommend that adults consume several servings of vegetables each day, but this can be difficult for some people. Some find it inconvenient to eat vegetables, while others are simply unsure how to prepare them in an appetizing way. This article will cover 17 unique ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet, so that you never get sick of eating them.
1. Make Veggie-Based Soups
Soups are an excellent way to consume multiple servings of vegetables at once. You can make veggies the “base” by pureeing them and adding spices, such as in this tomato soup recipe. Furthermore, it’s simple to cook veggies into broth- or cream-based soups. Adding even a small amount of extra veggies, such as broccoli, to soups is a great way to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
For example, this recipe for broccoli veggie soup contains 1/2 cup (78 grams) of broccoli per serving, which provides a significant amount of vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate (1).
Here are a few other veggie-based soup recipes for you to try:
– Carrot Soup
– Creamy Cauliflower Soup
– Simple Pumpkin Soup with Kale
– Mushroom Spinach Soup
2. Try Zucchini Lasagna
Another creative way to eat more veggies is by making zucchini lasagna. Traditional lasagna is a pasta-based dish made by layering lasagna noodles with sauce, cheese and meat. It’s tasty, but it’s also typically very high in carbs.
A great way to prepare this delicious dish so that it has a lower carb content and more nutrients is to replace the lasagna noodles with strips of zucchini. Zucchini is a rich source of B vitamins and vitamin C, in addition to trace minerals and fiber (2).
This recipe for zucchini lasagna is fairly simple to make by combining zucchini with ground beef, cheese and a variety of other veggies.
3. Experiment With Veggie Noodles
Veggie noodles are easy to make, and a great way to get more veggies in your diet. They’re also an excellent low-carb substitute for high-carb foods, such as pasta. They are made by inserting vegetables into a spiralizer, which processes them into noodle-like shapes.
You can use a spiralizer for almost any type of vegetable. They are commonly used for zucchini, carrots and sweet potatoes. Once the “noodles” are made, they can be consumed just like pasta and combined with sauces, other vegetables or meat.
Here are some veggie noodle recipes for you to try:
– Zucchini Spaghetti and Meatballs
– Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Noodles
– Carrot Noodles with Peanut Sauce
4. Add Veggies to Sauces
Adding extra vegetables to your sauces is a sneaky, unique way to increase your veggie intake. While you are cooking sauce, such as marinara sauce, simply add some veggies of your choice to the mix, such as chopped onions, carrots, spinach or bell peppers.
You can also puree certain veggies with seasonings and make them into a sauce on their own.
Here are some examples of sauce recipes that incorporate extra veggies:
– Very Veggie Marinara
– Butternut Squash Sauce With Sage
– Spinach Cream Sauce
– Creamy Carrot Sauce
5. Make a Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Cauliflower is extremely versatile, and there are many unique ways to include it in your diet. One strategy is to replace regular, flour-based pizza crust with a cauliflower crust, such as this one, which is made by combining cauliflower with eggs, almond flour and some seasonings.
You can then add your own toppings, such as fresh veggies, tomato sauce and cheese. Substituting cauliflower crust for flour-based crusts is an excellent way to enjoy the delicious taste of pizza, while reducing your intake of carbs and calories.
A cup (100 grams) of cauliflower contains only 5 grams of carbs and 25 calories, in addition to lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which flour-based crusts lack (3).
6. Blend With Smoothies
Smoothies make for a refreshing breakfast or snack. Typically, they are made by combining fruit with ice, milk or water in a blender. However, you can also add veggies to smoothies without compromising the flavor.
Fresh, leafy greens are common smoothie additions, such as in this recipe, which combines kale with mango, peaches, ginger and some other flavorings. Adding spinach and kale to smoothies is an easy way to get more nutrients.
Just 1 cup (30 grams) of spinach contains 181% of your daily needs for vitamin K and 56% for vitamin A. The same serving of kale provides 206% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 134% for vitamin C and 684% for vitamin K (4, 5).
In addition, frozen zucchini, pumpkin, beets and sweet potatoes work well with smoothies, which you can try with the following recipes:
– Blueberry Zucchini Smoothie
– Orange Smoothie With Sweet Potato
– Pumpkin Smoothie
7. Add Veggies to Casseroles
Including extra veggies in casseroles is a unique way to increase your veggie intake. Casseroles are a dish that combines pieces of meat with chopped vegetables, cheese, potatoes and a grain, such as rice or pasta. As you might expect, traditional casseroles are typically very high in refined carbs and calories.
Luckily, you can reduce calories and carbs in your casseroles by replacing the grains with veggies, such as broccoli, mushrooms, celery or carrots. This casserole recipe incorporates eggs, coconut milk and spices with broccoli, onions and mushrooms.
These veggies contain a combination of several important nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, B vitamins, trace minerals and antioxidants (6, 7, 8).
8. Cook a Veggie Omelet
Omelets are a great dish to include in your diet if you want to eat more veggies. They are made by frying beaten eggs with a small amount of butter or oil in a pan, and then folding them around a filling that often includes cheese, meat, vegetables or a combination of the three.
Any type of veggie tastes great in omelets. Spinach, onions and tomatoes are common additions. You can also add chopped bell peppers to omelets, such as in this recipe, which is a great way to enhance your intake of vitamin C and vitamin A (9, 10).
9. Prepare Savory Oatmeal
Savory oatmeal is a great dish that will incorporate more veggies into your diet. Oatmeal is typically consumed as a sweet breakfast food, often combined with fresh fruit, raisins or cinnamon.
However, you can also enjoy it as a savory meal by adding eggs, spices and lots of veggies. This recipe for savory oatmeal includes onions, mushrooms, collard greens and tomatoes, all of which provide a healthy combination of nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium (6, 8, 11, 12).
Here are a couple other savory oatmeal recipes for you to try:
– Savory Oatmeal With Greens and Yogurt
– Mediterranean Savory Oatmeal with Spinach and Tomatoes
10. Try a Lettuce Wrap or Veggie Bun
Using lettuce as a wrap or certain veggies as buns in place of tortillas and bread is an easy way to eat more veggies. Lettuce wraps can be a part of several types of dishes, and are often used to make low-carb sandwiches and bunless burgers.
Additionally, many types of veggies, such as portobello mushroom caps, sliced sweet potatoes and sliced eggplant make excellent buns. Lettuce wraps and veggie buns are an easy way to reduce your calorie intake, as one lettuce leaf contains only one calorie. Refined bread is much higher in calories (13, 14).
Furthermore, replacing flour-based products with veggies is a great way to reduce your carb intake, while consuming lots of nutrients.
The following recipes are a great place to start with lettuce wraps and veggie buns:
– Chicken Lettuce Wraps
– Bunless Turkey Burger
– Mediterranean Tuna Lettuce Wraps
– Grilled Eggplant Bun Burger
– Sweet Potato Buns
11. Grill Veggie Kebabs
Veggie kebabs are a great dish to try if you want to increase your veggie intake.To make them, place chopped vegetables of your choice on a skewer and cook on a grill or barbecue.
Bell peppers, onions and tomatoes work well for kebabs. You can also use mushrooms and zucchini, such as in this recipe.
12. Enjoy a Veggie Burger
Veggie burgers are a delicious and unique way to increase your veggie intake. A burger is a sandwich consisting of a ground meat patty, typically made of beef, that is then placed inside of a bun with various toppings.
Burger patties can also be made by combining vegetables with eggs, nuts or nut flours and seasonings. Sweet potatoes, which are an excellent source of vitamin A and antioxidants, are also commonly used to make veggie burgers (15).
The following recipes combine sweet potatoes with almond flour, egg and a variety of spices and chopped veggies, such as mushrooms and cauliflower:
– Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers
– Veggie Mushroom Burgers
You can take these recipes a step further by wrapping your veggie burger in a lettuce wrap, instead of a bun.
13. Add Veggies to Tuna Salad
Adding veggies to tuna salad is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. In general, tuna salad is made by blending tuna with mayonnaise, but any type of chopped vegetable can be added to increase the flavor and nutrient content.
Onions, carrots, cucumber and spinach are common additions, such as in this recipe.
14. Make Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers are an excellent dish to include in your diet if you want to increase your veggie intake. They are made by stuffing halved bell peppers with cooked meat, beans, rice and seasonings, and then baking them in the oven.
Bell peppers are a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A and C (9). You can increase the nutrition content of stuffed bell peppers by including lots of extra veggies. Onions, spinach or cauliflower work well, such as in this recipe.
15. Add Veggies to Guacamole
It is fairly easy to add veggies to guacamole, and makes for a unique way to increase your veggie intake. Guacamole is an avocado-based dip made by mashing ripe avocados and sea salt together with lemon or lime juice, garlic and additional seasonings. A variety of vegetables taste great when incorporated into guacamole. Bell peppers, tomatoes and onions are good options.
This recipe for veggie guacamole includes onion, carrots, zucchini and yellow squash, which provide a combination of fiber, vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamin C and manganese (2, 8, 16).
You can also make guacamole with roasted vegetables, such as in this recipe.
16. Blend Veggies With Meatloaf
Another way to increase your veggie intake is by blending them with meatloaf. Meatloaf is a dish made with a combination of ground meat and other ingredients, such as eggs, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce. It is then molded into the shape of a loaf, which is where it gets its name.
You can add just about any type of chopped vegetable to meatloaf, including onions, bell peppers, carrots and zucchini, such as in this recipe. Additionally, you can make “meatloaf” that is completely veggie-based, like this recipe, which includes chickpeas, carrots, onions and celery.
17. Make Cauliflower Rice
A unique way to increase your veggie intake is by eating cauliflower rice. It is made by pulsing cauliflower florets in a food processor into small granules. You can then use it raw or cooked as a substitute for regular rice.
Cauliflower rice is significantly lower in carbs than regular rice, with only 5 grams of carbs per cup, compared to 45 grams in a cup (158 grams) of rice (3, 17). Additionally, cauliflower is significantly higher in nutrients than rice. It is particularly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium (3).
This recipe for cauliflower rice contains step-by-step directions on how to make it, in addition to some ideas for extra ingredients you can add to enhance its flavor.
The Bottom Line
There are many unique ways you can include more vegetables in your diet. Make “rice” and “buns” with vegetables, or incorporate them into common dishes, such as casseroles and soups. By making veggies a regular part of your eating habits, you’ll significantly increase your intake of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants.
Eating enough vegetables is also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and may be beneficial for weight control (18, 19). At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong eating more veggies.