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Over two years ago, I met the man who would become the man of my dreams. He’s almost there! I’m kidding, of course. In relationships we all have differences. Some differences you can live with and some you can’t. I can’t tell you how much it pained me when I learned Mr. Vines hates vegetables, but I love him so much! It’s not a deal-breaker.
He still hates most vegetables, but for the past few years, I’ve been slowly and carefully incorporating them into foods using hidden vegetable recipes. One example is the brown butter and butternut squash sauce I made to top the lobster ravioli we made. I consider that a big WIN!
Yet still, I feel like I’ve made way more accommodations to my food regime than Travis has. Quite frankly, I don’t know how much more bachelor food I can take. I tried so hard to supplement my lunches with salads, but one can only take so many salads day after day after day. We’ve reached a point where everyone eats the protein I serve for dinner, but separate sides are made for me and Nicholas so we can get our veggies in.
There’s got to be another way! I reached out to some fellow bloggers for advice on how to hide vegetables in food and asked to share their deceptively delicious hidden vegetable recipes.
(All photos posted with permission of the bloggers courtesy of Operation Round-Up).
Source: Mom’s Messy Miracles
Travis could LIVE on mac & cheese. I’ve tried to amp things up by NOT making it entirely from a box by using various real cheeses. Little did I know that mac & cheese is the perfect way to hide members of the squash family like pumpkin. These Pumpkin Mac & Cheese Cups can be easily made year-round with canned pumpkin puree or pureed frozen butternut squash with a pungent or sharp cheese. When pumpkin and other squash is in season (Fall), you can puree the pumpkin yourself.
If you prefer your pumpkin flavor in sweets, this pumpkin breakfast cookie is packed full of nutrients from the eggs, rolled oats, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, ground flax and coconut oil. It’s a protein-packed breakfast cookie with the sweetness of pureed pumpkin and cranberries.
Source: Fab Haute Mama
Sauces have been the EASIEST way for me to incorporate hidden veggies. Not only does this sauce hide the veggies, but it also hides the meat. It’s a homemade version of a jarred pasta sauce that boasts tomatoes (technically a fruit, but they fall on Travis’s half-veggie list – i.e. I still have to get semi-creative with tomatoes in meals), onions, green peppers, sweet potatoes and spinach.
Can you see ANY of these? Nope. Win! I love spaghetti and other pastas, so this meat and hidden vegetable sauce recipe will become a staple in our household, especially served with vegetable pasta. In fact, I can even use veggie crumbles (meat substitute) to make a meatless dish and nobody would know the difference.
Source: Organized 31
There must be a mix-up. I see chopped spinach, applesauce and an off-the-shelf boxed brownie mix. Nope, your eyes don’t deceive you. You can do a lot more with leafy greens and applesauce than you ever imagined.
I love the concept, but I would have a hard time hiding the flecks of green in this healthier brownie from a box mix recipe. With a little more pureeing and a dash of raw cocoa powder you can hide the green. You can also substitute both the spinach and applesauce for pureed avocado and raw cocoa powder.
Boxed brownie mix has made far more appearances in my household than I’ve seen in a lifetime since Nicholas started working and has his own money. The kid LOVES vegetables, but if I told him I made brownies with anything green, he’d surely pass, although he did enjoy my avocado chocolate mousse. Avocados are the one green thing the kid won’t eat. If I make this while the guys are at work, they’ll never know.
Source: Cleverly Simple
If you’re still not sold on the greenery (or the box), sweet potatoes are a great wholesome ingredient option to add to brownies. I love Lynette’s thoughts on the art of adapting food in this homemade brownie recipe made with sweet potatoes. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Small substitutions or minor tweaks do make a difference, even if you are using boxed brownies.
The thing about this recipe that I love is that it doesn’t transform the brownie into a sweet potato SKIN in the shape of a brownie. In other words, it’s not going to taste like cardboard or SoyJoy (is that crap discontinued yet? NO? Holy crap. PLEASE, never subject yourself to that pain). It preserves the flavor by only replacing SOME of the sugar with sweet potatoes and by using coconut oil and pure maple syrup.
How much you adapt is up to you, so if you don’t have “PURE” maple syrup and you’re okay with something else, than by all means, use it. That doesn’t just apply to “pure” maple syrup. I hardly ever follow a recipe to the “T”. I don’t have a Rachel Ray kitchen.
Source: Cleverly Simple
I have successfully used cauliflower in place of potatoes in an amazing mashed cauliflower recipe that I never posted. I’m banging my head now because now I don’t recall the recipe, but I remember the post a little bit. It was a snarky post…WAIT, I found it….
This recipe inspired me to make mashed cauliflower, along with a challenge from a friend (who I still owe a Porterhouse steak for helping me decide on using cauliflower in the first place to get Travis to eat vegetables). I didn’t even follow that recipe, but I love the post. I think I used gouda.
Whoa! Sidetracked, eh? Let’s talk about this cauliflower tots recipe by Lynette at Cleverly Simple. Anything deep fried, automatically gets brownie points in this household (okay, it’s all Travis, though Nicholas did make ramen cheese sticks once). If I can deep fry it and the center is NOT green, I have at least a 60/40 chance of Travis eating it more than once. YEESS!
This recipe is on point for a potato substitute. Travis could subsist solely on mac & cheese, but if his mac & cheese could have a partner in crime, it would be potatoes.
There is no way in hell I can pass off a green smoothie to Travis, but I need veggies. Since I don’t get enough veggies, smoothies are perfect for me and Nicholas to compensate for lack of veggies at dinner. In fact, both of us LOVE smoothies.
For me, Ellen’s recipe for a green smoothie without kale is perfect because it’s simple. You can even blend the super-yummy chocolate calcium chew (that I could literally eat like gummy vitamins, or even Flintstones vitamins, when I was a kid) in it to make sure you get the calcium and vitamin D you need.
Lynette of Cleverly Simple’s healthy green smoothie recipe is just as easy. It’s packed with protein and it’s low calorie.
Source: Healthy Seasonal Recipes
When I said I don’t know how much more bachelor food I can take, I meant it, for the most part. I do have some vices: spaghetti, pizza and sloppy joes, among others. These are the three that come to my mind immediately. I’ve learned how to incorporate veggies into spaghetti (and now even more so with the meat and hidden vegetable sauce recipe above). The same general concept applies to turning sloppy joes into skinny joes.
This skinny joes recipe by Healthy Seasonal Recipes drastically reduces the sugar content by substituting caramelized onions and maple syrup for ketchup; plus it uses vegetables so wisely that one pound of beef feeds 12 people. TWELVE!
With sauteed onions, finely chopped mushrooms, diced sweet onions and crushed tomatoes, skinny joes are a great way to sneak in those vegetables.
By looking at this one, you would never know that that it’s got carrots, onions or celery in it. Ah, what wonders a food processor will do. I never thought to add carrots or celery into a meat sauce; not to mention this bolognese recipe uses bison for the protein.
Instead of using regular crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted tomatoes add flavor and a hint of smokiness, plus there is ZERO added sugar. Best of all, you can store the sauce (alone) in the freezer for up-to 3 months.
Source: Bunny’s Warm Oven
I love breakfast, but Travis likes to sleep in so even when he’s home on the weekends, I fly solo for breakfast most of the time. This is another way for me and Nicholas to get our veggies in without him. Travis is perfectly content with a bowl of cereal, which I will break him of with eggs, pancakes, french toast, muffins, oatmeal or grits. That’s a story for another day.
Spinach is one of my favorite veggies and I love eggs and cheese. This spinach egg bake recipe fills my veggie void with onions, red bell pepper and baby spinach. I would definitely add diced tomatoes or serve fresh sliced tomatoes on the side.
Let’s get back to dinner. Dinner is our most challenging meal because no one wants to invest time in cooking. If I didn’t have to work, I could easily see myself as the perfect wife and mother (my vision of what the perfect wife and mother should be…yours may differ). I could craft AMAZINGLY creative and tasty meals for dinner, send my loves away with fresh, hot, homemade breakfast and make sure they had appetizing homemade lunches and snacks.
Unfortunately, I’m not there yet; so dinners turn into a coin-toss where the loser cooks. We’re both tired after work. The loser who gets to cook the pasta based meal wins, in my opinion. Pasta based meals are easy to me because you can kinda set it and forget it.
This healthier carbonara pasta recipe uses cauliflower to make a healthier alfredo sauce along with caramelized onions and garlic, a hint of butter, broth, milk and a pinch of salt.
When combined with pasta, bacon and green onion it creates an amazing carbonara pasta that’s done in under an hour. If you make enough, you’ll have leftovers that taste just as good the next day for a work lunch.
Then There’s Zucchini, Lots of Zucchini…
Source: The Inpsired Home
We made something similar to this quinoa zucchini breakfast muffin recipe using potatoes. I can tell you that zucchini hides very well in recipes, especially in breakfast muffin form. On the plus side, this recipe can easily be frozen and reheated in the microwave.
You can check out the nutrition facts between quinoa versus potatoes at SkipThePie (just discovered this gem today). What you’re looking for in a food, might not be the same as what I’m looking for. For example, my focus might be on calories, fat and dietary fiber, but you might be more concerned with other aspects of a food like vitamins & minerals, proteins and aminos or fatty acids & fats.
If you like something a little sweeter, you can start the day off with this easy protein zucchini bread (contains peanut product) with peanut powder for protein and zucchini as the primary ingredients.
Source: Spend with Pennies
For those with nut allergies, you can try this pumpkin zucchini bread recipe instead. Filled with chocolate chips and topped with a cream cheese glaze, it makes a great dessert. If you’d rather eat it for breakfast, you can substitute the chocolate chips with raisins (or not…if you like chocolate more than I do).
Mission to Save and Thrifty Northwest Mom stick with a more traditional zucchini bread recipe, but they’re both very freezer-friendly, which is great if you’re trying to use up fresh zucchini. Both recipes are great for making freezable muffins, if you prefer a more on-the-go option.
Last, but not least here are a few more dessert recipes with hidden vegetables. Zucchini is very versatile, as you can see! If you’ve got space to plant it that gets 6-10 hours of sunlight per day, growing zucchini can save a ton of money and benefit your family’s health in ways they could never imagine!
Source: Spend with Pennies
If spinach and sweet potatoes aren’t your thing, zucchini has a much milder flavor and I personally think it hides itself better than any other vegetable. Check out this recipe for zucchini brownies with 1-minute frosting.
Source: Spend with Pennies
If you’re an oddball like me and you’re not a big chocolate fan, this lemon zucchini cupcakes recipe will knock your socks off. You could even throw in some chia seeds for some superfood action!
There you have it! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert recipes featuring hidden vegetables!