Sneaky Veggies

You can’t deny that diet is a very important piece of the health puzzle, and most people recognize that fresh produce, especially vegetables, contribute to a healthy diet. Yet, the majority of our diets are still lacking these foundational foods. Why?

Some people claim finances, others claim taste. If you are like me, you honestly want to incorporate more veggies, but are just honestly clueless at how. Then I stumbled across this amazing technique of sneaky veggies.

Sneaky veggies pretty much means sneaking or hiding vegetables into your everyday meals without anyone noticing. I first came across this practice in a cookbook written by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife. It’s a cookbook specifically targeting children (as in, hiding healthy foods in meals for picky kiddos), and while there are some things I don’t necessarily agree with in her recipes (sugar-free or low-fat does not mean “healthy”, and adding a bunch of sugar to a recipe kind of negates the vegetable factor), I did love how she incorporates purees into so many dishes: breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, even desserts!

A puree is super-simple to make. It basically involves cooking your vegetable just enough to make it soft (usually by steaming or roasting), then either mashing or blending in a food processor until smooth. It may sound like a lot of work, but you can make a fun day out of it by scheduling yourself a “prep day”, where you bake and puree all your veggies, measure them into baggies and store them in the freezer. My one-year-old loves to help press the food processor button (as well as take sneak bites of her favorite veggies!).

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I’m lucky enough that my family isn’t very picky about meals; in fact, we love to try new things. I don’t necessarily feel like I need to “hide” vegetables in foods to get my family to eat them, and I do feel like it’s important for kids to have vegetables presented to them so that they become an everyday part of their normal diet. However, my husband and I grew up in very Midwestern homes, where vegetables usually consisted of corn and potatoes, maybe sometimes a can of green beans thrown in a casserole. While we now steam most of our veggies and incorporate them into daily dinners, I love that we are making our meals even healthier by adding purees into the mix. (If you follow my Instagram account, you will notice that we LOVE smoothies; the more nutrients you can pack into one meal, the better!)

My favorite puree is also one of the easiest – spinach!

I will buy organic spinach when it is on sale at the grocery store (we have yet to add this to our garden) and spend an afternoon steaming and bagging. One pound of spinach will usually yield me about 2 cups or so of puree. I freeze them in ½ cup increments, and pull one out whenever we need it… whether it’s for homemade pizza, blueberry oatmeal bars, or green eggs and ham!

Yes.. there's spinach in those!

Yes.. there’s spinach in those!

We add sweet potato or butternut squash puree to many traditional hamburger meals – including meat loaf, meatball soup, and maidrites (aka “sloppy joes”). Sweet potato is also a great puree to add into pancakes or waffles (with a little bit of banana and cinnamon.. yum!).

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Cauliflower puree (some call it cauliflower rice, but I think it looks more like snow) can be added to scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, homemade pizza crust, or even substituted in place of rice with fried chicken and vegetables. Chinese night, anyone?

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How about you.. what is your favorite “sneaky” veggie?

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