Foolproof Ways to Sneak in the Vegetables this Season

Focus on increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits you and your family eat, instead of focusing on trying to decrease holiday treats.

The holidays are coming!  With all the sweets and carbohydrate-loaded dishes around, it is easy to lose sight of the vegetable section of your plate.  A delightful way to stay healthy and help prevent holiday weight gain is to work on increasing the fruits and vegetables your family eats.

Eating more vegetables and fruits can help control the amount of high-calorie foods you eat by increasing your fullness and satisfaction.

Check and see how your family is doing by looking at the plate to see if it is made up of half veggies (or fruit at breakfast).  If it isn’t overflowing with asparagus and broccoli, then luckily ‘tis the season to enjoy adding vegetables to the foods your family already loves.

Two methods of preparation that work great to sneak in the vegetables, no matter what vegetables you have in your house, is pureeing and grating.

Do this ahead of time and then you can add them to dishes, such as sauces, soups, tacos, meatloaf, breads, burgers, stuffing, and casseroles, throughout the week.  If you aren’t quite ready to commit, pick up a jar of vegetable baby food or vegetable squeezable pouch, and give it a try.  You can have a lot of fun testing this way!

Additionally, although roasting vegetables doesn’t hide them, it enhances their sweetness, making this preparation method a great choice for a veggie-resistant crowd.

Here are some other simple ways to increase your families’ veggies in the holiday season:

Pumpkin:

Photo by Hide Obara on Unsplash

Do you have a can of pumpkin sitting in your cupboard?  If not, you might consider getting one.  This food is low in calories, with only 30 calories in a cup of it cubed, is high in vitamin A to benefit your skin and eyes, and adds a velvety texture when added to dishes.  Plus, it is already pureed and ready to go.  Pumpkin is great added to oatmeal, pancake mix, tomato sauce, or brownies in place of some or all of the oil.  Additionally, choose pumpkin pie instead of pecan to save approximately 200 calories and 10 grams of fat.

Cauliflower:

You can have a lot of fun with this cancer fighting, very low calorie food.   Use it in anything starchy such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or boil and finely chop to use as cauliflower “rice”.  You can also add it mashed to pancakes; don’t worry, they won’t taste like cauliflower!  Pureed cauliflower works great instead of cream to give richness to dishes without any fat.  You can also try adding a little to scrambled eggs and making a creamy cauliflower cheese soup (“cheese soup” for early cauliflower skeptics).

Sweet potatoes:

Fat free and vitamin-rich and easy to prepare!  To cook them you simply prick them and heat them in the oven or microwave, or cut them to make oven-baked sweet potato fries.  For a convenient, foolproof method, wrap the sweet potatoes in foil, and put them in your slow cooker on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.  Then you can eat as is or scoop out the creamy flesh and whip them into a fluffy mash.  With their natural sweetness and mild flavor, they are also great additions to oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, or even brownies in place of some of the oil.  You won’t even know they are there—perfect for those who aren’t yet plain sweet potato fans.  Their orange color and creamy texture also make them perfect for adding to macaroni and cheese.  To reduce the added sugar and calories of traditional sweet potato dishes, such as sweet potato casserole, try adding zero-calorie cinnamon and vanilla, both of which amplify sweetness.

To get you started here is a recipe for Mashed Cauliflower from ChopChop Magazine, a cooking magazine for families.

MASHED CAULIFLOWER

Love mashed potatoes? Then you’ll love mashed cauliflower. It looks so similar that at first you might do a double take! But cauliflower actually has more nutrients than potatoes. (That can be our little secret.)

HANDS-ON TIME: 15 MINUTES

TOTAL TIME: 50 MINUTES

MAKES: 4 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 large head cauliflower leaves removed and discarded
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  •  Black pepper (to taste)
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Use your hands and a small, sharp knife to separate the cauliflower into florets and chop the stem fine. (“Florets” are the branched clusters at the top of the cauliflower.) Throw away the tough inner core.
  2. Put the pot on the stove, add the cauliflower and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. (You’ll know the water is boiling when you see bubbles breaking all over its surface.) Cover and turn the heat down to low.
  3. Cook the cauliflower until very tender, 15 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the cauliflower florets. If there is liquid left in the pot, drain the cauliflower in the colander and return it to the pot.
  4. Mash, using a potato masher, or blend with a handheld blender or food processor.
  5. Add the olive oil, yogurt and, if using, butter, salt, and pepper and mash until smooth. Serve right away,or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Recipe republished with permission from ChopChop: The Fun Cooking Magazine for Families, a nonprofit quarterly magazine available in English and Spanish. For more recipes, visit www.chopchopmag.org.

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