7 Hacks For Sneaking Vegetables Into Your Life

A little secret of my own adulthood is that I don't always eat all my vegetables. In fact, sometimes I don't even have vegetables in the house. I'm also old enough to know that I'm in serious need of some solid ways to eat more vegetables.

And I'm not alone. According to an article in U.S. News and World Report, most American adults receive an "F" when graded by the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) when it comes to daily fruit and vegetable intake. What's more, a lack of proper nutrition through food has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer, and yet most Americans still are unable to meet their daily requirements.

Elizabeth Pivonka, cochair for the NFVA and president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, attributes this lack of veggie eating to the simple fact that many Americans no longer really cook anymore, and thus don't know how to prepare vegetables in a way that make them appealing to eat.

As someone who grew up in a household where vegetables came either in boring cold salads or as boiled, flavorless sides, I can relate to this problem. It's rare that I eat a vegetable prepared in a flavorful or interesting way, but when I do remember that they actually can be pretty good!

So for those of you out there who often find yourselves failing in the whole eating your vegetable department, here are seven super simple hacks to up your intake that will actually taste delicious.

1. Dip Them

That same U.S. News and World Report article recommended simply keeping more vegetables around for dipping in hummus or other healthy dips as a guaranteed way to eat more of them. You can even sneak more veggies into the dip itself, like with this yogurt-based artichoke-spinach dip. I've often found that just having vegetables out and accessible means I'm way more likely to snack on them.

2. Hide Them In Smoothies

Tanya Burr on YouTube

Steve Kamb, founder of Nerd Fitness, recommended hiding certain vegetables, like spinach and kale, in smoothies. He said that he started adding green veggies to his daily fruit smoothie and "other than giving my drink a greenish tint, the taste was unchanged. That’s one daily serving of a super veggie without even trying!"

3. Bake Them

Joanna Soh Official on YouTube

While technically the same concept as hiding them in smoothies, this will yield a totally different taste result. Carrot, zucchini, and pumpkin-based baked goods are a great place to start. In the U.S. News and World Report piece, Registered Dietician Sarah Krieger said, "It can definitely be an awesome way to get your more nutritious substitutes and replaces high-oil, high-fat baked goods."

4. Experiment With Veggie Alternatives To Your Favorite Foods

Lillian's Test Kitchen on YouTube

Kamb is a huge advocate of trying out different veggie-based recipes that you may have never thought to cook before. His top picks are carrot fries and zucchini "noodles," as well as adding more of them to meat dishes. I've included an awesome and super easy crispy carrot recipe from YouTube chef Lillian above!

5. Pack Them On Other Foods

This one is a super simple personal tip. If you really want a burger, just order it with extra lettuce, tomato, and fresh onions. You're craving pizza? Also fine! But try to opt for the veggie option instead of the plain cheese or sausage. Just because we're eating "unhealthy" foods doesn't mean we can't slip some actual nutrition in there too.

6. Get Creative With Recipes

Laura in the Kitchen on YouTube

This bounces off the fact that most of us just don't know how to cook veggies in a way that actually makes them appealing. A quick recipe search will reveal that there are actually countless amazing recipes that make vegetables taste delicious, like the one above for brussels sprouts with bacon. This is one of the few vegetable recipes I've made myself at home and I can personally vouch for the fact that it's awesome.

7. Double Up

This is a crazy simple tip from Registered Dietician Sidney Fry on CookingLight.com; when making a recipe, such as a soup or pasta, simply double the amount of vegetables. "You are already doing the prep work; so a little extra chopping can go a long way for your vegetable intake," she said. Plus, she noted that for most recipes the added veggies will not alter the flavor.

Vegetable do not need to be our arch-nemeses when it comes to eating healthy. In fact, there are a ton of legitimately delicious recipes that use vegetables as their base ingredients and are packed with nutrition. So go forth and get your veggie on!

Images: YouTube (4); Timlewisnm, Tom Ipri, Evan Bench/Flickr