By Emma Andrews, RHN Vega National Educator
Whether it’s because of the taste, texture, or the look of green veggies, it can be impossible to get the picky eaters in your house to eat them. But despite how much they may be despised, greens are rich in vitamin A, C, K, minerals and phytonutrients— everything we need to build a healthy body.
If you need help disguising green vegetables for a picky eater in your household (or yourself), these top 8 tips can save meal-time:
1. Breakfast or After School Smoothie
Easily disguise greens in a blended fruit smoothie for rushed mornings, or after school snack. Boost the protein content and add two servings of greens (from broccoli, kale and spinach) with Vega Protein & Greens. It’s also plant-based, and gluten-free and has no added sugar.
DIY: Try this kid-friendly and adult approved “Funky Monkey” smoothie that tastes like a PB & J sandwich (and it doesn’t even look green)!
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 cup dry oats
- 1-2 tsp raspberry 100% fruit jam
- 1 serving Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla
2. Chocolate Pudding
Yes, even dessert can have vegetables! This no fuss decadent chocolate pudding is made thick and creamy with the addition of avocado.
DIY: In a blender, mix 1 whole (pitted, skinless) avocado with ½ cup non-dairy milk, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 1/3 cup sweetener of choice (such as maple syrup, agave nectar or coconut sugar). Once well blended, scoop into serving bowls and let thicken in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
3. Spaghetti (Zucchini) Noodles
Next pasta night, switch up your routine, and try this stealth-health version instead.
DIY: Cook up half your normal volume of spaghetti noodles. Use a vegetable peeler, mandoline, or better yet, a spiralizer (fun for kids too!), to create long, thin strands of zucchini (similar size to spaghetti noodles). Toss into the hot water for the last minute or two of cooking to soften up (it won’t take long). Drain and toss all noodles with your favorite sauce before serving.
4. Brownie Batter
Yup. You read that right. Brownies are a great way to hide greens! Try adding 1 cup fresh, loosely packed spinach, or 1/2 cup shredded zucchini to your batter. Blend the spinach or zucchini with other wet ingredients in your food processor to get a smooth consistency before combining with the dry ingredients.
5. Wraps: Burritos and Tacos
Replacing wraps or taco shells with chard leaves, or butter lettuce leaves may not seem so sneaky, yet it’s their mild taste in combination with a hearty filling that makes this a winning combination at meal-time again and again.
DIY: Wrap your favorite burrito or taco fillings, such as rice, black beans and salsa in chard leaves or butter lettuce leaves. If using chard leaves, cut off the long part of the stem and keep that end of the leaf open for your first bite (rolling the bottom and sides of the leaf inwards).
6. Flavored Water: Cucumber, Mint and Melon Refresher
A great way to stay hydrated and get in your greens. Combine in a blender 1 whole cucumber, 6-8 fresh mint leaves, and 1 cup diced fresh melon (watermelon, honeydew or cantaloupe). Blend until well mixed, and pour liquid through a strainer into a water bottle. Add more water as you like and enjoy through the day.
7. Seaweed Flakes
Seaweed may seem far from approachable at first glance, yet there are a few mild varieties that disguise well into many conventional dishes. Bonus: seaweed contains iodine, necessary for the healthy functioning of our thyroid glands, which regulate metabolism and weight. Sheets of nori seaweed, traditionally used for rolling sushi, can be finely shredded and added into soups and sauces. It softens and blends in—making it barely noticeable.
8. Frozen Pops
Adults, athletes and kids alike can indulge in popsicles any time of year. Make a thicker version of your favorite smoothie and pour into an ice pop tray to freeze. Want a recipe to start with? Try one of these three smoothie pop variations.
Incorporating more greens into your diet doesn’t have to be intimidating. Aim to try at least one of these new ideas over the next few weeks, and repeat what you (or your family) love most!
Emma Andrews is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified in Plant-Based Cooking, and National Educator at Vega. Based in Vancouver BC Canada, Emma is an avid endurance runner, who can be found in her kitchen playground when not out running the seawall around Stanley Park. Learn more about her work at http://myvega.com/team/emma-andrews-rhn/ or connect with her on social @emmamazing_life