Top 10 Ways to Sneak Vegetables Into Your Diet

Try these tips even a veggie-hater could love

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

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. Just choose those you think will work for you:

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.

9. Grill them. After the meat or fish is taken off the grill, why waste the hot coals? You can probably use the same marinade you're using for your meat. (Just marinate the veggies separately, using marinade that hasn't touched the meat.) Make a kabob with chunks of vegetables (eggplant, carrot, bell pepper, mushrooms, zucchini, and other squash). Soft vegetables won't need precooking, but firm ones such as sweet potatoes will benefit from steaming or microwaving before they hit the grill.

10. Fast food vegetables. You can even get your vegetables at a fast-food chain -- as long as you like salads. Ask for the fat-free French, low-fat honey-mustard, or reduced-fat creamy ranch dressing. Use half the packet and you'll add about 50 calories and from 0 to 4 grams of fat.

Originally published Sept. 22, 2003.
Medically updated Aug. 24, 2005.


SOURCE: WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Expert Column: "Eat Your Vegetables" by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, July 30, 2003.

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