Raise of hands—how many of you eat the recommended number of vegetable servings every day? The recommended servings of vegetables are 3-4 or 4-5 depending on your caloric needs (one serving = ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup raw).
If I asked a room of 100 people this question, recent stats from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention say that only 27 of you would be able to honestly raise their hand.
How to fix this dilemma? Try hiding your veggies. Researchers at Penn State did a small 41-person study on hiding vegetables in food and it produced some interesting results.
How it worked:
The university offered these participants breakfast, lunch, and dinner once a week for 3 weeks. The catch was that pureed vegetables replaced some ingredients in one of the items at each meal- carrot bread for breakfast, macaroni & cheese at lunch, and chicken-and-rice casserole at dinner.
When enough pureed vegetables were added to triple the amount of vegetables in the dish, the calorie content decreased by 15%. When enough were added to increase the veggies by 4.5 times, the calories decreased by 25%.
Participants consumed the same weight of food regardless of the amount of pureed vegetables the dish contained. This means that on days the veggies were tripled, they ate 200 less calories. On days the veggies were multiplied by 4.5, they ate 360 fewer calories.
Try your own study
Play around with some pureed veggies & see if it works for you. If you’re looking for places to hide, here are a few suggestions:
Spaghetti sauce– sauté and then puree peppers, mushrooms, onions or even broccoli & add to your sauce for
Casseroles: Dice carrots, celery, corn, turnips, cabbage, leeks, green beans…what can’t you add to a casserole?
Soups: Puree some cooked carrots & broccoli to add to the broth and then add even more by throwing in some bite size pieces
Smoothies: Add some green leafy vegetables to your fruity smoothie
Pasta: This might be a new idea to you, but you can make your own vegetable noodles and use less real pasta. Use a peeler long ways on a zucchini or carrot and eat raw or boil them for a little bit with your noodles (not too long though or you lose some vitamins). Spaghetti squash is a good alternative too since they’re already noodle-shaped for you!
As for un-pureed vegetables, you can always throw more in a salad, sandwich, wrap, on an omelet or breakfast burrito, or just dip them in some hummus or a light dressing. If you have a salad with your meal, eat it before your entrée and you might not need to finish the entrée. Leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
Do you hide your veggies? What methods do you use to eat more vegetables?