WOW it is cold out there. Makes you want to put on sweats, curl up under a blanket and eat something like mac ‘n cheese! Veggies are certainly not everyone’s priority this time of year. And even if they are still at the top of your list of favorite foods, they may not be for your husband or children. (At any time of year!) That’s why it can be helpful to disguise them as something else. Now, if you’ve ever been to a raw restaurant, you know that veggies can be transformed in to an endless variety of foods and you can’t even tell they are what they are. It’s amazing! For the purpose of this post, we will keep it SIMPLE.
The benefits of hiding vegetables is two-fold. Of course, you are adding the nutrients of vegetables to a dish, enough said. But also, the displacement of whatever you are substituting the vegetable for is a huge benefit too. Faking out your kids with a bowl of “chips” or “onion rings”? The real deal is so unhealthy, and you are eliminating trans fats, sodium, preservatives and a whole list of things you can’t pronounce. For instance, last night instead of empty calorie-filled white pasta, we had zucchini “noodles”. You can transform boring this…
…into delectable this! When all the tomato sauce goodness soaks in to the zucc, it is just not the same vegetable. Or any vegetable at all.
So let’s see how we can transform healthy produce in to all sorts of palate-pleasing dishes!
Juices and Smoothies: This is an easy one! Throw an apple in the juicer with a bunch of greens and it’s suddenly a sweet treat! With bananas and blueberries in a smoothie, your taste buds won’t even notice the kale.
Breakfast: Try adding pumpkin to oats or yogurt with a little cinnamon and nuts, it’s more like dessert. How about an egg scramble with a bunch of chopped up veggies? Add a little hot sauce? Mmm! Or how about a healthy zucchini muffin? No one thinks they are anything but delicious – until they hear there is zucchini inside!
Starches: There are SO many ways to substitute white flour with vegetables. Cauliflower is one of the most versatile. Depending on how finely you grind it up and when and how much you cook it, it can stand in for mashed potatoes, potato salad, rice or risotto, or breadcrumbs. Did you know you can make a delicious stuffing with cauli instead of bread? As we’ve already seen, you can make “pasta” noodles out of zucchini – most squashes and root vegetables for that matter. Spaghetti squash is a great stand-in. You can also use these same veggies, and bell peppers too, as noodles for Asian-themed dishes – add a peanut or sesame sauce. To take the pasta theme one step further, if you thinly shave root veggies they can make a fantastic ravioli too. For the last of the starches, how about using cabbage instead of a tortilla? Or even a hamburger bun – though that is less “hidden”, it at least still allows you to pick up the burger with your hands so that has to count for something!
Fried foods – I can’t tell you how easy it is to cut sweet potatoes in to the shape of french fries, toss them with a little olive and salt and pepper, throw them in the oven for a little while and suddenly you have awesome-tasting “fries”. Thinly slice any root vegetable, toss them with the same ingredients and bake them in to crispy chips! Your kids or husband may cringe at the mention of kale – mine certainly does – but when you add oil, salt and a little cheese and bake them into chips they are a whole different animal. You can even make onion rings or zucchini fritters that taste freakin delicious baked in the oven.
Dips: Who doesn’t love guacamole and salsa? And what’s more, you can use veggie chips to dip! Pesto can be made with added vegetables and it is delicious – try adding bell peppers or mushrooms next time! I had a roasted red pepper dip at a restaurant the other night and it was fantastic. Ever made raita? Add some garlic and cucumber to plain yogurt, it’s to easy.
Dessert: Yes, even dessert. I guarantee you no one will notice if your chocolate pudding is made with an avocado base. Guarantee it! They may ask how you made it because it is so smooth and delicious, but not because it taste anything like avo!
Well, that’s a pretty good start. So go eat your veggies – no excuses!!