Eating lots of vegetables is essential for better health, but often the thought of yet another salad just doesn’t seem satisfying. Whether you struggle to get yourself to enjoy the taste of vegetables or you have picky eaters in your house, these seven tips will have everyone reaching for seconds!
Turn Your Veggies into Pesto
Rather than dressing up your dish with fattening sauces filled with empty calories, dress it up with vegetable-packed pesto! Making your own pesto is simple and a great way to eat more vegetables without a salad.
First, choose your favorite green for the base of your pesto—spinach, kale and arugula work best. Next, choose your favorite fresh herb—try parsley, basil or cilantro. Then decide which nut or seed you want to add into the mix. Typically, a pesto will contain pine nuts, although you can switch it up by using almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, hemp seeds or sunflower seeds.
Fill your high-speed blender or food processor with 2 packed cups greens, 1 packed cup herbs, ¼ cup nuts, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 or 2 garlic cloves and salt to taste. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides from time to time, and add a dash of water or nut milk if needed. This is a single serving—double the recipe as needed if cooking for multiple people!
Blend Them into Smoothies
One of the easiest and quickest ways to include more vegetables into your diet without a salad is by blending them up into a delicious smoothie. It’s possible to have a smoothie packed with veggies without altering the taste! Choose neutral-tasting vegetables like spinach, cauliflower or zucchini, fresh or frozen. Pumpkin puree is always a great addition to a smoothie as well.
To satisfy your hunger, your vegetable smoothie should also include a scoop of Afterburn protein powder, fruit and dietary fat. Frozen avocados, bananas, mangoes and pineapple give it an amazing boost of flavor and creaminess. For dietary fat, ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk or 1 tablespoon almond butter, cashew butter, chia seeds and flaxseed are all great options.
Load up your blender with as many vegetables as you want, toss in the remaining ingredients along with some ice and water (or plant-based milk if you prefer, but keep in mind this adds extra calories that do not provide substantial nutritional benefits) then process until smooth!
If using pumpkin puree, blend ½ cup with ½ avocado, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, Afterburn protein powder and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg for a pumpkin spice smoothie.
Remember: Green powders are easy to toss into a smoothie and a great supplement to a balanced diet, but they are not meant to replace vegetables in your diet.
Turn your vegetables into pasta! Easily get two to three servings of your daily vegetable intake without a salad by swapping out noodles in your favorite pasta dish for spiralized vegetables! Zucchini, butternut squash, summer squash, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, beets, carrots, broccoli stalks and cabbage can easily be turned into noodles, making it simple for you to add a wide variety of vegetables into your diet without a salad.
The simplest way to create your own vegetable noodles is with a spiralizer. There are many different styles you can find on the market, from handheld to electric, and most are relatively inexpensive, ranging anywhere from $8 to $40. Don’t have a spiralizer on hand? You can also create your own ribbon-style pasta by using a vegetable peeler. This works best with zucchini, carrots and cucumbers.
Another option: Roast a spaghetti squash for the perfect angel hair–style pasta. Simply cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds, place it on a baking sheet with the cut side facing up and roast for 25 minutes at 450ºF. When it’s done, the squash can be scraped into spaghetti-like strands with a fork.
Or save yourself some time in the kitchen by buying your vegetables pre-spiralized. You can find zucchini, sweet potato, beet and butternut squash noodles in the refrigerated section at most grocery stores. And be sure to check out the frozen food section, as you may be able to find more options there as well.
Vegetable noodles taste great raw, saving you time in the kitchen. If stir-frying, keep in mind that vegetable noodles, especially zucchini noodles, have a quick cook time. To avoid watery noodles, stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
Fill up your bowl with vegetables without having to eat a salad by turning your vegetables into rice. Cauliflower is the most common vegetable used for vegetable rice, although many other vegetables work just as well! Try butternut squash, broccoli, carrots and beets. Roughly chop your vegetables into small pieces and throw them into a high-speed blender or food processor. Pulse until a rice texture is formed. For best results, pulse only for five seconds at a time to avoid over-blending them.
If you do not have a high-speed blender or food processor—or if you just need a quick dinner to whip up—you can buy cauliflower and broccoli rice in the frozen vegetable section at most grocery stores.
If making your own vegetable rice, try combining different vegetables for a colorful rice medley and eat it raw for a quick meal on the go. Or cook up some healthy yet delicious stir-fried rice! Some vegetables release water when heated. To prevent your rice from turning watery, be sure to stir-fry over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the water has evaporated and the rice begins to turn golden brown.
Oil is not required for cooking when using a non-stick pan. If using oil, cooking time may be longer. Add your favorite spices or drizzle with your favorite sauce. For creative ideas on how to boost the flavor of your dish, check out this post.
Stuff Them with Goodness
Load up on vegetables without a salad by roasting and stuffing them with goodness! Roasted vegetables always taste better than a salad, but why not make them more delicious by stuffing them with beans, rice, quinoa, eggs, ground or shredded meat, nuts, cheese, tofu, tempeh, herbs and spices?
Start by scooping out the inside of your vegetable of choice—eggplant, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, portabella mushrooms and squash work best. Prepare your stuffing in a skillet and then spoon it into your vegetables. Roast at 400ºF until the vegetables begin to brown—cooking time varies depending on your vegetable of choice.
To get started with stuffing your vegetables, try these combinations:
Scoop out the inside of a tomato and crack an egg open inside. Sprinkle with paprika and roast until the egg is fully cooked.
Make zucchini boats stuffed with brown rice and topped with feta cheese and Italian seasoning.
Roast an eggplant filled with tomato sauce, ground grass-fed beef or turkey and quinoa.
Load a red pepper with black beans, shredded chicken and fajita seasoning.
Purée Them into Soup
The most clever way to eat more vegetables without a salad is by disguising them as a creamy soup. Parsnips, carrots, peppers, butternut squash, broccoli, mushrooms, cauliflower, tomatoes and dark leafy greens are perfect for pureeing into satisfying soups.
Roast or boil your vegetable of choice (about 2 to 3 cups), add to a high-speed blender or food processor and toss in ½ cup beans or 4 tablespoons hummus (to create a denser soup) or ⅓ cup full-fat coconut milk, ¼ cup soaked cashews (overnight or for at least 8 hours) or ½ avocado (to create a rich and creamier taste).
Toss in your desired herbs and spices, add a dash of liquid like water, broth or plant-based milk, and blend everything together until completely smooth. Continue to add liquid and puree until your desired consistency is reached.
For a fuller meal, add a source of protein. Ground turkey or grass-fed beef, shredded chicken and crumbled tempeh are great additions to any soup.
Experiment with combining different vegetables and ingredients to keep your weeknight dinners fun and satisfying. Here are some awesome combinations to get you started!
2 cups roasted carrots + ½ cup white beans + ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk + 1 teaspoon each ginger, onion and garlic powder + liquid of choice
2 cups boiled cauliflower + 4 tablespoons garlic hummus + ¼ cup soaked cashews + 1 tbsp. dried dill + liquid of choice
1 large tomato + ½ cup black beans + ½ avocado + taco seasoning + liquid of choice
2 cups roasted mushrooms + ½ cup chickpeas + ¼ cup full-fat coconut milk + 1 or 2 garlic cloves
Eating raw vegetables can get boring quickly, but not when you have healthy and delicious dips to smother them in! Rather than indulging in tortilla chips and guacamole, swap out your chips for crinkle-cut carrots and/or sliced cucumbers. Eating your vegetables with a healthy fat like avocado keeps you full and satisfied for hours and helps your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Eat your vegetables with a boost of protein by turning peanut butter powder into a creamy dip. Mix 4 tablespoons peanut butter powder with water or a plant-based milk. Add a dash at a time, stir until your desired consistency is reached and dip with celery sticks or baby carrots.
Turn full-fat Greek yogurt into tzatziki by mixing in finely chopped cucumbers, fresh dill, minced garlic or garlic powder and salt to taste. This dip is high in protein, contains a healthy fat and is the perfect dip for any of your favorite vegetables.
Or skip the homemade dips and buy different flavors of hummus. With countless options of flavored hummus available—roasted red pepper, chipotle, caramelized onion, olive tapenade, basil pesto, Mexican black bean and so many more—you’ll never get bored eating your vegetables raw!
With these seven tips, you’ll never have to eat another salad again!