The search for healthy living and weight loss quick-fixes may never end, but the most effective steps are clear and simple: Eat your vegetables, avoid junk food, drink more water, and get regular exercise. During the month of September, also recognized as “Fruits & Veggies: More Matters Month,” you might work on that first step with some creative recipes that will help you forget how picky you can be in the produce section. You don’t have to stick to trendy foods like raw kale salads or wheatgrass extracts—which make it hard to believe that anyone actually enjoys eating vegetables—as there are some much tastier ways to get the nutrients you need from fresh veggies. Here’s a look at some of the more surprising dishes that incorporate veggies in a sneaky and absolutely delicious way.
So you love pasta, but you hate the bloated feeling you get after indulging in a plate of fettuccine Alfredo? You might substitute the noodles (or even half the noodles) with shaved strands of zucchini. With a vegetable peeler and a whole zucchini, you can create oodles of faux noodles that take on the flavor of any delicious sauce. Spaghetti squash is another easy pasta substitute, which is a bit more obvious thanks to its name.
Cauliflower “mac” and cheese
Another popular substitute for pasta is cauliflower, which is incredibly versatile thanks to its soft texture (when cooked) and light flavor. Next time you have a craving for mac and cheese, try whipping up a cheesy cauliflower with some spinach inside for added nutrients. Parmesan is the perfect cheese choice for your creamy béchamel sauce, because it adds a sharp bite of distinctly cheesy flavor without the need for handfuls of cheese. You can also use cauliflower instead of potatoes in your favorite mashed potato recipe to lighten up this side dish.
Creamy butternut squash sauce
You can bulk up your sauces with veggies too; select vegetables that will easily blend into smooth and creamy sauces, like squash. Butternut squash can create a smooth, savory, and delicious sauce that is a rich autumn staple with sage, nutmeg, and shallot accents. Sweet potatoes and other winter squash work excellently in these sauces as well.
Admittedly, avocados are fruits, not vegetables, but they boast impressive nutritional stats and a unique texture that can be easily disguised in sweet desserts. Instead of butter in frosting you can use avocado, which will not be a prominent flavor when paired with bitter chocolate and almond milk.
How do you sneak veggies into your comfort dishes? Share your unique recipes in the comments below and let us know how our recipe ideas work in your kitchen!