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If you are trying to improve your healthy eating habits, vegetables are your BFF! Meats – so long as they’re low in saturated fat — are good, and moderate use of healthy oils (watch for saturated fat) may help support heart health. For diabetic patients, even fruits have to be eaten in moderation, since they might raise your blood sugar. But fresh, unprocessed vegetables will almost never do you wrong.
If you’re getting tired of salads and steamed broccoli, how can you get more vegetables into your routine? Let’s get creative: we have a dozen ideas for you. But first, be sure you have a great knife for trimming. It’s so much more enjoyable to prepare fresh vegetables with a good knife. And you don’t have to spend a lot! We love this Victorinox knife (in fact, we have several of them), because it makes quick work of trimming:
Speaking of Victorinox, peeling is an absolute breeze with this little tool, which we learned about from the late chef, Anthony Bourdain. You’ll never dread peeling carrots, potatoes, apples, or anything else again:
Ready for some new ideas?
- Use vegetables as containers, like we did in this Chicken Salad recipe. Hollowed out cucumbers and slices of red and yellow sweet peppers provide nutritious little cups for the chicken salad … or anything else.
- Make sauces out of them, like our Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and our Green Kale and Herb Sauce. Sauces like these make all the difference, turning boring lean chicken and steamed broccoli into a memorable dish that invites seconds.
- Turn them into Vegetable Smoothies, like these. Just be sure to use the whole vegetable, not just the juice, for the most benefits. Vegetable smoothies are a quick way to get your veggie nutrients and get out the door quickly.
- Fold them into Turkey Burgers. Ground turkey alone can be dry and bland, but when you blend in some chopped and sautéed carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms, you have great flavor, moisture and tenderness without the saturated fat of traditional hamburgers.
- Use them to make rice – namely, cauliflower rice! We used cauliflower rice in our heart-healthy version of Chicken Fried “Rice.” Cauliflower can do almost anything that a carb-heavy serving of potatoes or rice can do, but with much less spiking of your blood sugar.
- Create a yummy snack plate with a colorful variety of sweet peppers carrots, celery and other favorites.
- Use them as toppers. Chopped and sautéed, a Mushroom Topper adds variety and dresses up lean meat, or tastes great in an omelette.
- Grill them, like we did with this Grilled Asparagus.
By the way, there’s nothing like the sear you get on a grill. Don’t have a grill, or live in an apartment or condo where you can’t have one? This indoor grill works great year-round!
- Make your veggies into a savory pie, like this Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin. When my “meat and potatoes” husband pronounced this a great substitute for potatoes, I knew we had a winner.
- If all else fails, toss all your leftover vegetables into a pan with some broth and make soup. If you prefer some meat, try our Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe, but a hearty vegetable soup without meat can be every bit as satisfying, especially as fall weather begins.
- Wrap things in them! Collard greens are perfect for wrapping up your favorite filling, like cooked ground turkey with onions, celery and carrots folded in. Top with your favorite sauce and you have a winner.
- Turn vegetables them into noodles! Zoodles (spiralized zucchini) and squash noodles are a great substitute for spaghetti, with far fewer carbs. To keep their texture al dente, sauté them quickly over high heat with a little of your favorite healthy oil, then top with a low-salt tomato sauce and light touch of freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese.
Last, be sure to check out our Vegetables page for more tips on cooking for each vegetable type, our Cooking Methods page for choosing the best preparation methods, and Products We Love, for great seasonings to jazz up your dishes!