When the weather gets warm, my daily habits start to get lighter. While shedding the winter coat is easy, shedding the comfort food cravings of winter can be very difficult. It’s tough to jump from rich holiday meals to light summer fare. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to hide vegetables in the comfort foods worth longing for, enticing kids and adults alike to eat lighter without trying.
Why Veil The Vegetables?
The average American doesn’t eat nearly enough vegetables. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that adults have five servings of vegetables a day and incorporate as many colors as possible.
Can you remember the last time you had an orange vegetable? What about a green one? Purple? It can be difficult to incorporate vegetables, particularly if you don’t enjoy the flavor or prefer heavier meals.
Kids are notoriously picky eaters, but adults often have problems adding vegetables into their diets as well. By incorporating vegetables into well-known and well-loved meals, we can meet our requirements and reduce the calories in our food without reducing any of the flavor.
Here are three of the many ways vegetables can be hidden in your favorite foods.
Smash Em’ and Mash Em’
Mashed potatoes are a staple in many households all year long, but did you know that you can mash other vegetables too? Cauliflower, parsnips, rutabaga and celery root can all be boiled and mashed, just like potatoes. Mash can be seasoned with a variety of herbs and spices, making it a perfect pairing in a wide variety of cuisines. It is very simple to make a smooth-textured mash with more nutrients and less simple carbohydrates than mashed potatoes alone. You can even try to add some color to your mash by adding peas, carrots, or squash for a more vibrant plate.
Cheese if you Please
Who doesn’t love a cheesy macaroni meal? When you are shredding the cheese to make a perfect sauce, you could easily be hiding veggies in the blend as well. Cooked butternut squash and pumpkin puree have soft, gooey textures that pair perfectly with melted cheese. Cut your cheese serving in half and substitute the other half with squash. No one will know the difference. Try substituting half of the cream for vegetable broth as well, and your macaroni will be the cheesiest, smoothest and most nutritious it has ever been.
Freeze and Feast
In the heat of the day, turning on the oven to make a sweet treat might seem less than appetizing. Luckily, you can hide vegetables in your frozen treats too. Use a blender to combine your favorite fruits (I like berries, or pineapple and kiwi) with spinach, watercress or avocado. Add a few tablespoons of sugar and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice (squeeze half of a lemon) and freeze overnight. In the morning you will have a sweet sorbet you can share by the spoonful.
Anytime is a good time to eat more vegetables, but that doesn’t mean eating has to be boring or unfulfilling. Meals with vegetables can be hearty, creamy, cheesy or even sweet. Try the mash recipe below as a starter, and let your veiling of the vegetables begin!
Recipe: Not Just A Potato Mash
- 1 Medium Idaho Potato (chopped)
- ½ head of cauliflower (chopped)
- 3 medium parsnips (peeled and chopped)
- 1 cup of pumpkin puree
- 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
- ½ cup of vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons of butter
1. Boil 4-6 cups of water in a large pot
2. Boil vegetables until fork tender (about 20-25 minutes)
3. While the vegetables are boiling, take ½ a tablespoon of butter and chopped garlic. Sautee garlic in a small pan until lightly brown.
4. Drain vegetables using a strainer
5. Add 1 cup of pumpkin puree, garlic and the rest of the butter to the vegetables in the large pot
6. Mash using a masher or a large plastic spoon
7. If the mash is dry, add in the vegetable broth a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency
8. Season to taste with pepper, parsley, and rosemary
9. Sprinkle chives over the top and enjoy