Let’s face it—veggies aren’t exactly the cool kids of the food world. The dreaded fear of anything green, leafy and nutritious you adopted at the age of five prevailed into adulthood, and now it’s harder than ever to force yourself to choose a salad over an 18-inch pepperoni pizza with extra cheese and stuffed crust. We feel your pain, collegiettes; that’s why we found tastier ways to tweak your favorite recipes and get your daily dose of vegetables!
Vegetables provide essential nutrients, and they’re generally low in fat and calories while still being filling. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) interactive fruit and vegetable calculator suggests that the average 20-year-old female who is active for 30-60 minutes per day should eat three cups of vegetables every day. However, a study done by researchers at Oregon State University found that the average female college student consumes only four servings of fruit and vegetables per week and gets more than 30 percent of her calories from fat.
This means college students—collegiettes in particular—are missing out on essential nutrients. “Based on the CDC's 2012 Second Nutrition Report, women have lower nutritional biomarker levels of vitamin A, B6 and B12 compared to men,” says Brooke Schantz, a registered dietician. “Vitamin A is needed for vision, gene transcription, immune function, etc.”
How do I get the nutrients I need?
Whether fresh or frozen, there are plenty of veggies that can satisfy your daily quota. “There are so many options to choose from in the freezer section for vegetables nowadays,” Schantz says. “These options are a great way to add vegetables to your lunch or dinner in just five minutes or less.”
Although veggies raw or on their own is a great way to fulfill your daily serving of vegetables, there are still many of us who just simply don’t have a taste for them. The solution? Compromise by sneaking them into your everyday favorite meals! These eight recipes are so delicious, you won’t even realize you’re eating hidden vegetables.
Sweet Potato Pancakes
Recipe fromCanada Girl Eats Paleo
What’s hidden? Sweet potato, which is high in vitamin B6, fiber and beta-carotene.
- ½ cup mashed sweet potato
- 2-3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon flour (coconut flour recommended)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla
- Coconut oil
- Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
- Mash the sweet potato, then whisk in 2 eggs. If the mix is too thick to pour in pan, add the third egg. If not, stir in all remaining ingredients except the coconut oil and cinnamon.
- Mix well until combined.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add some coconut oil. Spoon ¼ cup batter onto the pan. Pancake is ready to flip when bubbles start to form and pancake is firm. Flip the pancake, then cook for about another minute, or until underside is firm.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy! Cut up some banana, strawberries and blueberries to top it with.
Recipe from Ciera Design
What’s hidden? Kale or spinach, which both contain lots of vitamin K and vitamin A.
- 4 large strawberries
- ½ cup blueberries or blackberries
- ½ banana
- 1 cup chopped kale or spinach
- ½ cup of apple juice (you can also substitute unsweetened soy milk or Greek yogurt)
- 1 cup water
- Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until there are no more chunks and smoothie is a consistent mixture.
- Note: If smoothie is too thick, add more water, soymilk, yogurt or juice.
Cookie Dough Dip
Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie
What’s hidden? Chickpeas, which are a great source of protein, dietary fiber and manganese.
- 1 ½ cups chickpeas (1 can, drained and rinsed)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup nut butter (peanut butter will make the dough taste like peanut butter, so if you don’t want that, use almond butter)
- Up to 1/4 cup milk, only if needed
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (or 2-3 packets of stevia)
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oats
- Add all ingredients except for chocolate chips into a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Mix in chocolate chips.
- Serve with graham crackers or fresh fruit.
Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce
Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie
What’s hidden? Cauliflower, which serves as a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and vitamin B6.
- 1 ½ cups raw cauliflower
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 teaspoons minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup milk of choice
- Optional: 1/2 cup mozzarella or nutritional yeast
- Put all ingredients into a medium pot and bring to a boil, then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until the cauliflower is fall-apart tender.
- Pulverize in a blender.
- Serve over cooked elbow pasta, linguini, veggies or rice!
Veggie Pasta Sauce
Recipe from Family Sponge
What’s hidden? Carrots, mushrooms, an onion and a bell pepper.
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- For a meatier sauce, add mushrooms
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add bell peppers. Cook 2-3 minutes, and add mushrooms if desired.
- Add tomatoes. If the mixture is too thick, use water or stock to thin it out.
- Stir, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and turn heat to medium low, letting cook for 15 minutes.
- Taste sauce and add salt, pepper and sugar as necessary.
- After 15 minutes, put sauce in blender until you get the desired consistency.
- Return sauce to pan on low and season to taste.
- Serve over pasta or meatballs!
Note: To make this a meat sauce, sauté the meat with onions and garlic in a separate pan, and then add to mixture after you’ve blended it.
Roasted Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
Recipe from The Cooking Mom
What’s hidden? Spaghetti squash, which is a great substitute for pasta that contains high amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C and manganese.
- 1 large spaghetti squash (approximately 3-4 pounds)
- 2-4 tablespoons butter
- 2-3 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pierce squash a few times with sharp paring knife to let steam escape.
- Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance.
- Let squash cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut squash in half lengthwise. Remove and discard the seeds. Use a fork to scrape the squash and remove all the strands.
- Heat a skillet and add butter and garlic.
- Heat over low to medium heat until butter melts, stirring often. Add parsley, spaghetti squash strands and a little salt and pepper. Toss well to coat and sprinkle in the Parmesan.
Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Recipe from Free People Blog
What’s hidden? Zucchini, which contains only 20 calories in a one-cup serving.
- 2 ½ cups flour (can substitute whole-grain or gluten-free flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2/3 cup sugar (can substitute honey)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 1 ½ cups shredded zucchini, with as much liquid squeezed out as possible
- 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large muffin tin with paper liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, add the honey, eggs, vanilla, oil and zucchini. Mix together until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well until combined, then fold in the mini chocolate chips.
- Fill the paper-lined muffin tins about 3/4 full. Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are cooked all the way through (check by inserting a toothpick in the center and seeing if it comes out clean).
- Let cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Brownies With Carrot and Spinach
Recipe from The Stay Lucky
What’s hidden? Carrots and spinach, which provide protein, iron and potassium.
- 3 ounces semisweet chocolate
- ½ cup carrot puree
- ½ cup spinach puree
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites
- ¾ cup of oat flour or all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease the bottom of at 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan or mini muffin tin with butter.
- Steam or boil the veggies and then puree them in a blender or food processor.
- Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or over a very low flame.
- In a large bowl, combine the melted chocolate, carrot and spinach purees, sugar, cocoa powder, butter and vanilla. Whisk 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth.
- Whisk in egg whites. Fold in flour, baking powder and salt.
- Pour the batter into pan and bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.
With these recipes, you’ll be able to easily sneak three (or more!) cups of vegetables into your daily diet. Getting the nutrients you need from delicious meals? Count us in.