Some people don’t love vegetables. And if you have kids, well, sometimes it’s a struggle to get past chicken strips and hot dogs.
Sound familiar? Keep reading for some tips about how to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your cooking!
Cooking with Dehydrated (or Fresh) Greens
One of my favorite things to do with greens and herbs from my garden is to dehydrate them. I dehydrate parsley, basil, mint, and other herbs for use in cooking and tea throughout the year. But, I also dehydrate a variety of greens – usually spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and arugula. I store them in jars with airtight lids in my pantry, and they are perfect for sneaking into lots of things.
As you are adding dehydrated greens to your food, keep in mind how much food shrinks when it’s dehydrated (and will expand when rehydrated.) Another nice thing about them is once they are dried, they crumble easily, which makes them less noticeable. Especially if you have picky eaters, you can usually pass the greens off as parsley – as long as you don’t overdo it.
A Few Ways Cook with Greens:
- Add some to your next batch of soup. It doesn’t really matter what kind of soup – just crumble a handful into the pot.
- Crumble some into your (tomato) pasta sauce.
- Mix some into your next burgers, meatloaf, or meatballs. My absolute favorite is to mix crushed arugula into ground turkey and form into meatballs or burgers.
You can also do these things with fresh greens, as they will cook down similarly when mixed into things. To make fresh greens more undetectable, you would just want to chop them up well before cooking.
Sneaking Other Vegetables into Your Cooking
One of my favorite things to make is vegetable cakes. Potato or zucchini is usually the main ingredient, but you can shred a variety of other vegetables into the mix – whatever you have on hand. You can add onions, sweet peppers, carrots, and even some of those dehydrated greens I mentioned above.
Mix the vegetables with a couple of eggs, shredded cheese, bread crumbs, and some seasonings and fry in a bit of oil on medium heat until both sides are thoroughly done. This isn’t as sneaky as some other ideas, but the addition of cheese and the way they are cooked makes them a hit even with people who don’t love vegetables.
Zucchini is another great vegetable that can be added to a variety of meals without anyone getting suspicious. If you peel it and grate it up, it will cook into whatever you have on the stove or in the oven. Pasta dishes, soups, sauces, meatloaf, etc. Add some zucchini next time!
I also often dehydrate mushrooms, and they can be processed into a powder. That powder is perfect for mixing into your next pasta sauce while also adding great flavor! You can buy mushroom powder if you don’t want to make it, and you could also buy fresh mushrooms and process them in a food processor before using.
Baking With Fruits or Veggies Instead of Butter
One ingredient that I consider a pantry staple is a jar of unsweetened applesauce. I make my own, but buying it is fine! It’s great for mixing into a variety of baked goods. In almost any quick bread or cake recipe, you can substitute half of the oil or butter with unsweetened applesauce. Pumpkin and banana can be substituted for butter or oil in this same way.
Some bakers will even substitute all applesauce in place of any oil or butter, but I usually do half and half. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, you would instead use 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of applesauce. It makes the bread or cake extra moist, too!
Additionally, in most bread and cake recipes, you can reduce the amount of sugar without affecting how it turns out. For most things I bake, I cut the sugar by at least 1/4 from what it calls for, sometimes up to 1/2. So if you take a recipe and not only incorporate some fruit or vegetable in place of some of the butter or oil AND cut the amount of sugar used, your baked treat starts to become quite a bit healthier.
Incorporating Greens Into Your Smoothies
Smoothies seem like a relatively basic thing to mention since everyone knows they have fruit in them. But, have you ever incorporated some greens into your smoothie? Spinach and kale work well in smoothies, and I bet your family won’t taste it over the delicious banana and other fruit you put in the blender.
As you can see, there are a variety of ways you can incorporate more fruits and vegetables into meals for your picky eaters.
If you need more specific recipes to follow, here are a couple of books you may enjoy:
(Please note these are affiliate links)
- Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food – Jessica Seinfeld
- How to Get Your Kids to Beg For Veggies: Quick & Easy Hidden Veggie Recipes the Whole Family Will Love – Leann Forst
- The Art of Hiding Vegetables: Sneaky Ways to Feed Your Children Healthy Food – Karen Bali and Sally Child
Darcy Geho is also the owner of PreservingMySanity.com, a lifestyle blog focused on natural living, healthy cooking, and food preservation. A recurring message throughout her blog is that cooking at home and preserving foods doesn’t have to be hard, and anyone can do it as long as they are willing to try. Darcy is also a content marketing strategist at Digital Darcy, where she helps small business owners with a variety of marketing and consulting services. She and her husband live in Minnesota with their dogs and cat where they enjoy outdoor adventures throughout the year. PreservingMySanity.com
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