Easy meals packed with vegetables

veggies_priyasundaresan_staff-copy
Priya Sundaresan/Staff

As college students, staying healthy is important for our long-term well-being. But, as kids at heart, many of us still can’t stand the sight or smell of vegetables. From stinky broccoli to just plain nasty spinach, we at the Clog understand your disgust — we’ve been there too. Willingly eating plain old veggies simply isn’t a thing we can stomach — literally.

But, what if we told you there’s another way? After all, it’s best to start forming healthy eating habits now as we enter (real) adulthood and life after UC Berkeley. So, you might as well try and give those pesky little greens a chance by adding them to foods you already eat to make them healthier (after all, you can do this with baked goods, too). To get you started with gradually incorporating veggies into your diet (without eating them completely plain and all by themselves), here are some easy ways to “hide” those nasty little boogers into your everyday meals.

Smoothie

Start off your day or get a quick, mid-afternoon boost of energy with a “green” smoothie. And no, they’re not as gross as they sound. (We’re not asking you to put every green food you’ve ever seen into a blender — it’s not St. Paddy’s day yet, folks). To get your source of veggies, simply add a handful of spinach or kale to your cup of fruits and blend away. We recommend combining your greens with fruits such as pineapples, mangoes and berries to keep your smoothie sweet.

Omelette or frittata 

There’s nothing easier than making eggs and adding things to them. Take a bunch of greens and vegetables, such as spinach, peppers, onions and tomatoes, and toss them into a sheet of eggs. Finish the cooking process to create either an omelette or frittata (or, you can simply scramble them if you’re running low on time or patience). Voila! Now you can eat your veggies in a quick, easy and flavorful way!

Vegetable-stuffed chicken

If you’re like us and would rather avoid eating plain vegetables as a side, incorporate them into the main dish instead. Take a skinless, boneless chicken breast, then make a slice through its center large enough to stuff some veggies inside. Or, simply flatten the chicken breast (using a mallet or just your hands), place the veggies on top, then roll up the chicken tightly and cut into smaller pieces. We recommend using spinach, basil leaves, bell peppers and tomatoes to stuff your chicken. Just be sure to sautee them first. Then, season your chicken to your liking, bake until done and enjoy some healthy grub.

Pasta sauce

Often times, pasta sauces don’t have a great deal of health value. They can be loaded with calories and unhealthy ingredients like cream. Sure, some pasta sauces are advertised as being loaded with veggies for pesky little kids that refuse to touch their greens, but often times they’re still pretty bad for you (Ragu, we’re onto you). If you’re running low on time, buy a light pasta sauce and combine with your own vegetables in a blender or food processor. But, if you’re looking for a challenge, try looking up “vegetable pasta sauces.” We can guarantee you that several easy recipes with only a few ingredients will pop up. Some popular sauces include asparagus, peas, cauliflower and red peppers. Try some different combinations and find your favorite!

Noodles

Just because you can add veggies to your pasta sauces doesn’t mean you should stop there, because you can also turn vegetables into noodles. Spaghetti and other pastas are often loaded with carbs, so replacing them with foods such as zucchini and squash will cut back on your carb intake while increasing your veggie intake. Turn your zucchini or squash into noodles using either a fancy tool called a spiralizer or a simple vegetable peeler or sharp knife (or, just buy spaghetti squash). Make the noodles as thick or thin as you want, then bake until they are soft and easy to chew as your typical pasta would be. Then, just add your vegetable-loaded sauce and enjoy a double-whammy of veggies.

Veggie burgers

For this one, we’re not only talking about your typical, vegetable-only patties. In addition to making burgers out of only greens and beans, you can also add vegetables like corn and red pepper to your choice of meat and cook as you normally would. This is a great option if you’re not ready to eat an entire patty made out of only vegetables. Mixing greens in with meat is the perfect way to “hide” your food nemeses in your everyday meals.

Cauliflower pizza

Trader Joe’s is your friend, forever and always, and especially when it comes to being healthy. In the frozen section you’ll find cauliflower pizza. No, it’s not cauliflower on top of regular pizza dough (although you can do this too). Instead, the “pizza dough” is made completely out of cauliflower, making it a healthy alternative to the typical carb-loaded bread base. It’s also an easy way to hide the taste and presence of vegetables. Add a few toppings and your preferred sauce. Maybe you can even infuse it with veggies or place some greens on top!

Veggies aren’t all that bad. Hiding them in your everyday meals will enable you to continue your healthy eating habits in the future. Plus, out of sight, out of mind, right? You’ll forget those pesky little suckers are even there!

Contact Chloe Lelchuk at [email protected].

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy