Sneaking Vegetables Into Your Daily Diet

While veggies may not be regularly enjoyed by most of us – per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 9 out of 10 Americans are not meeting the vegetable food group recommendation – they really should be. Vegetables are such an important part of a healthy meal plan because they are full of fiber (good for digestion), rich in vitamins and minerals and high in water content (helping with hydration). Not to mention they are economical and add loads of flavor to your meals.

If you struggle with meeting the daily recommendation for vegetables or MyPlate vegetable guidelines, here are some tips for increasing your intake without sacrificing flavor.

Breakfast

  • Smoothies
    • Many of us think smoothies are meant to be made with only fruit, but the truth is veggies have their seat at the table (or in the glass), too. You can add a variety of veggies to any smoothie recipe to boost the flavor, fiber and color. Try adding a handful of spinach or cauliflower to your favorite smoothie.
  • Frittatas and Quiche
    • Egg-based dishes are one of the easiest vehicles for adding vegetables to breakfast; any of your favorite vegetables will do. Diced tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, spinach and even onions can help boost your veggie intake for the day.
  • Sweet Potatoes
    • Sweet and savory has never had it so good! You can make a breakfast hash with sweet potatoes, our spicy sweet potato dip or add sweet potato puree to smoothies, pancakes and more!

Main Meals (Lunch and Dinner)

  • Burgers
    • An American love – the burger! Of course, adding lettuce and tomato to your burger is one way many of us enjoy a few extra vegetables, but did you know that you can even add shredded mushrooms, carrots or zucchini to your lean meat patties prior to cooking them? This will add texture and flavor and even help stretch your food dollar. Or try our Black Bean Salsa Sliders for a veggie packed meal.
  • Pizza
    • Pizza is an easy way to add vegetables to your diet. Certainly, tomato sauce can count as a vegetable. Additionally, try topping your pizza with a variety of vegetables. You can even replace white or whole wheat crust with cauliflower!
  • Soups and Stews

Snacks

  • Enjoy Them Raw
    • Ok, this isn’t a “sneak,” but there are endless options with raw veggies. Just try them until you find your favorites. Then pair them with your favorite dips. Or better yet, make your own vegetable dip!
  • Veggie Chips
    • A family favorite of ours is zucchini or squash chips.
  • Bean Brownies
    • Don’t knock it until you try it! This turns out to be a hit every time. You can do both dark chocolate or blondies by swapping out black beans for white beans.

Mealtime for both children and adults should be joyous – not only keeping our palates happy, but also nourishing and keeping our bodies healthy. Vegetables are an important part of our diet, and we should make the conscious decision to increase our consumption (sneaking them in or not). Take little steps toward increasing your veggie intake – and remember, “If you do better today than you did yesterday, you are ahead of the game!”

Learn more about this vital food group and try these MyPlate tips and tricks.

By Jennifer Duhon, M.S., RDN, LDN

Jen is a Louisiana native who was inspired to enter the field of nutrition by her grandmother. She was the first registered dietitian to hold a board seat on the Louisiana Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In her free time, Jen enjoys kickboxing, dancing, running and spending time with her husband and two children. Learn more about Jen here.