Healthy living can seem daunting but here at Peel with Zeal we always strive to provide you with practical useful ideas to live your best life. We have put together twelve easy ways to eat more vegetables (and fruits) so you can stay healthy and live life to the fullest.
A few years ago we did a new food challenge with friends, trying to eat as many new fruits and vegetables as we could. It was so much fun we decided to make this a long-term lifestyle change. We wanted to share with you our best ideas on how to make vegetables a way of life in your home.
But this isn't just a list of ideas. We have rounded up the 75 best recipes from food bloggers around the world to help give you the jump start you deserve! All these recipes are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free. But they are big on flavor and full of nutrients. So let's get started with our favorite easy ways to eat more vegetables.
All About Veggie Noodles
Carbs often get a bad rap but increasing nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables is always a good idea. Zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, and even beets all make hearty vegetable noodles. Try cold cucumber noodles for a refreshing summer dish.
Zucchini and summer squash make a great substitute for lasagna noodles. While spaghetti squash is an excellent substitute for rice noodles.
You can make them at home using a spiralizer or use a hand peeler that juliennes the noodles for you. Or buy them prepackaged at your local grocery store.
We use this foolproof method for preparing spaghetti squash and then add our own sauces.
Here are five impressive ways to amp up your Italian cooking repertoire:
Thinking beyond Italian, here are our favorite vegetable noodle dishes from around the world:
Thai Chicken & Sweet Potato Noodle Bowls
Herby Turkey Soup with Kale Noodles
Coconut Curry Soup with Sweet Potato Noodles
Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pad Thai
Cucumber Noodle Salad
Harissa Beef over Carrot Noodles
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.
Amp Up Your Rice
There are thousands of cauliflower rice recipes. Literally thousands. Basically, if it can be made with rice, it can be made with cauliflower rice (or even broccoli rice).
I have expressed my severe distaste for ricing my own cauliflower. I simply just don’t do it. But Trader Joe's, Costco and almost every grocery store now carry fresh and/or frozen cauliflower or broccoli rice. Making this my favorite easy way to eat more vegetables.
Hands down the best cauliflower rice recipe is this Wild “Rice” Pilaf with Grapes. It has both cauliflower rice and wild rice to form the perfect blend.
One thing to keep in mind with vegetable-based rice and noodles is that you don’t have to go all in. A 50/50 blend is a great way to get started. And from a texture standpoint, you may find it preferable.
Here are five more cauliflower rice recipes you must try!
Cauliflower Risotto with Spring Vegetables
Mexican Cauliflower Rice
Indian Cauliflower Rice Pilaf
15 Minute Healthy Cauliflower Fried Rice (just be sure to sub tamari for the soy sauce to make it GF)
Festive Tomato and Spinach Cauliflower Rice
Slather on Vegetable Based Sauces
A great sauce makes a meal. When most people think “sauce,” they think pan sauce with meat juices or one of the classic French mother sauces that are loaded with cream or butter. While I must say they are extremely tasty, they can also be finicky and a bit time-consuming to make.
This is why vegetable-based sauces are where it’s at! You can pack several servings of vegetables into a sauce that is pureed or blended. While relishes, chutneys, and salsa provide variety and texture.
I have a favorite quote about sauces from Paul Bocuse:
“If an architect makes a mistake, he grows ivy to cover it. If a doctor makes a mistake, he covers it with soil. If a cook makes a mistake, he covers it with some sauce and says it is a new recipe."
Here are nine scrumptious vegetable-based sauces for your next “new” recipe!
Easy Dairy Free Basil Pesto
No-Cook Romesco Sauce
Walnut Red Pepper Chutney
Carrot Ginger Dressing
Four Ingredient Avocado Sauce
Pineapple, Cucumber & Mint Relish
San Marzano Tomato Sauce
Rethink What Makes "A Meal"
Growing up I always thought a “good” dinner was a protein, a starch, and a vegetable. And while there is nothing wrong with that, my new typical “good” meal contains a high-quality protein and two vegetables.
Typically, one vegetable will be simple steam or roasted to minimize hands-on time. And the other serving of vegetables will be more complex. Or have a great sauce from above to make them shine.
Here are just a few of our go-to vegetable side dish combos:
Roasted Watermelon Radishes and Mushrooms with Chestnuts
Corn on the Cob and Spicy Avocado Slaw
Simple Sautéed Greens and Roasted Eggplant
Healthy Sweet Potato Crunch and Blanched Green Beans
Butternut Mac & Cheese and Steamed Broccoli
Roasted Carrots and Brussel Sprout Tater Tots
Celebrate Meatless Monday
Meat is not required for a healthy diet. People have embraced a plant-based vegan diet for centuries and it is only gaining in popularity. Not sure if it is for you?
Give it a try once per week and celebrate “Meatless Monday”. Replace your 2-3 servings of animal-based protein with high-quality nutrient-dense vegetables.
Our favorite vegetable-based meals that are perfect for lunch or dinner:
Call in Reinforcements
It is OK to ask for help! Eating healthy can seem overwhelming but there are many services to help you achieve a healthy diet.
Instead of spending money on takeout or prepackaged processed foods use that money to buy washed and pre-cut vegetables. Cauliflower already riced, pineapples peeled & cored and spiralized veggie noodles are some of my favorites.
We recommend you subscribe to a meal kit service to cover a few meals per week. This will guarantee you are getting all the plant-based goodness your body deserves
And don’t forget delivery services or curbside pickups make it easy to eat more vegetables.
Side Salads and Soups
Have you ever noticed that when dining out we often add an appetizer, side salad, or cup of soup to our meal but we never do the same at home? When you think of more vegetables, most people think of more meal-sized salads.
But let’s make the case for smaller salads, including fruit salads, and hearty vegetable-based soups to kick off the main meal.
A small side salad of just 1 cup of lettuce or spinach with a few fresh veggies or fruit can add up to over 10 extra servings of vegetables per week. That is pretty amazing!
Our Favorite Starter Salads:
Our favorite nourishing starter soups:
I like to make soups for lunch and then freeze enough to use later as a starter cup of soup for my dinner. Making it easy to add an appetizer course without the extra work.
Smoothies and Juices
Swapping a soda or iced tea for a cold-pressed juice or a smoothie can add up to two extra servings of fruits and vegetables to one meal. Smoothies that are veggie-based and without dairy or nuts are low in calories and won’t fill you up. Leaving room for a salad or veggie wrap as your main course.
Here are a few of our favorite creative smoothie, shakes, and juice recipes:
Little Substitutions for Big Gains
Eating more fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to mean eating an entirely extra dish. Little additions can add up to a few extra servings of fruits and vegetables each week. Add chopped herbs to your salads and sandwiches. Or garnish your dish with fresh chopped herbs or microgreens.
The nutrients in microgreens can be four to FORTY times more concentrated than their mature counterparts (source). They are worthy of a liberal sprinkle on your dinner. Plus, it just looks prettier.
You can even try edible flowers or a quickly pickled vegetable for a little extra pizzazz.
For any recipe that calls for ground beef or turkey substitute finely chopped mushrooms for 50% by volume. We have used this trick for meatloaf, taco meat, chili, and meatballs with great success. Mushrooms are a superfood rich in antioxidants. One study found that eating mushrooms daily improves immunity (source).
Little substitutions truly are an easy way to get more vegetables in your diet.
Up Your Sandwich Game
Swap your bread, bun, or tortilla for a lettuce wrap. Savoy cabbage leaves are large and flexible. Making them perfect for replacing a large tortilla in your next wrap. We also like young collard greens that are still sweet and haven’t taken on a bitter flavor yet. And who doesn’t love a lettuce wrap?
Or go beyond lettuce and tomato on your next sandwich or roll. Add fresh herbs, roasted peppers, marinated mushrooms, sliced cucumbers, or a big slab of red onion. Even fruit!
We suggest you give it a go on one of these recipes:
Swap our chips, crackers, and fries for low carb high vitamin veggie fries, crudité or oven-baked veggie chips. Daikon, turnips, and jicama make amazing alternatives to traditional fries.
Making veggie or fruit chips in your oven or a dehydrator is easy. It just takes a little time. Or add a veggie-based dip to your tortilla chip routine.
Here are some of our favorite healthy veggie snacks:
Fruit and Vegetable-Based Desserts
If you are going to indulge in dessert make it fruit or vegetable-based with natural sweeteners. As with all our recipes, our favorites are gluten and dairy free.
And I am always amazed by how creative home cooks and food bloggers can be when it comes to adding fruits and vegetables to their sweets.
It should never feel like work to eat more vegetables. These hidden fruit and vegetable dessert recipes feel like a celebration!
We aren’t done yet! We have an amazing community of vegetable fans. Let us know in the comments your favorite easy way to eat more vegetables (or fruits… we like fruit too).
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