Vegetables and treats are two words that typically aren't used together, but maybe they should be! While plain, raw vegetables aren't all that appetizing to most people, when they're elevated with bold flavors (and given fancy names), they can go from unimaginative to unbelievable.
In fact, for an October 2019 study published in Psychological Science, researchers offered study participants the same vegetable dish but with different names — one indulgent-sounding (ex. "twisted, citrus-glazed carrots") and the other healthy. They found that people were more likely to choose the vegetable dish with the indulgent name — even though the actual dish didn't change. So go ahead, indulge in these 10 healthy recipes!
1. Asiago Roasted Potato Wedges With Sour Cream and Chives
Potatoes have a reputation for being high in carbohydrates and are often shunned in the cutthroat dieting world. It's time to stop shaming the potato and recognize it as one of the most versatile and tasty veggies available.
One medium red potato will give you 36 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C, and when you leave the skin on, you get more than three grams of fiber. When roasted in the oven on high heat, they develop a crispy texture that easily rivals fried potatoes, without the unhealthy trans fat. Skip the sugar-laden ketchup and opt for a low-fat sour cream or protein-filled Greek yogurt mixed with fresh herbs.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Asiago Roasted Potato Wedges With Sour Cream and Chives
2. Mediterranean Zoodles With Creamy Feta Dressing
So long, boring zucchini! Oven-roasted zucchini is no longer the preferred way of eating this versatile vegetable. The zucchini is now the darling of the farmers market. If you still haven't tried making vegetable noodles with a spiralizer, it's time you did. It's a great way to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet.
Zucchini has a neutral taste, it's a low-carb alternative to pasta and it takes on the flavor of any food it's combined with. It pairs perfectly with cherry tomatoes for a double dose of vitamin C. Whip up the yogurt and feta dressing to add a little protein and calcium and some great flavor.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Mediterranean Zoodles With Creamy Feta Dressing
3. Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Breakfast Cookies
Sweet potatoes lend moisture and sweetness to this healthy and light breakfast cookie. Plus, they give you a kick of beta carotene to start your day. Whole-grain rolled oats and pecans will help fill you up with a good dose of fiber. Since most adults don't get the recommended amount of fiber per day (25 grams for women and 38 grams per day for men), these cookies are a fun way to help meet your goal.
Sweet potato cookies can be made with milk or nondairy milk (for those with allergies or intolerances). Maple syrup adds a less refined source of sugar that has just the right amount of sweetness. You won't skip breakfast again with these waiting for you.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Breakfast Cookies
4. Cruciferous Trio With Peanut Ginger Lime Dressing
Nutritionists often say you shouldn't eat foods that you can't pronounce. This salad is one exception to that rule. Cruciferous (kroo-sif-er-us) vegetables are a class of healthy foods like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and many others.
A 2016 meta-analysis published in JRSM Cardiovascular Disease found that eating cruciferous vegetables daily decreased the risk of cardiovascular disease. You could eat regular high-fat coleslaw to get in your daily dose of cabbage, but this updated version uses a dressing comprised of peanut, ginger and lime that will make you want to eat cruciferous vegetables all day, every day.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Cruciferous Trio With Peanut Ginger Lime Dressing
5. Mexican Street Corn With Avocado Dressing
Did you know corn can be considered a vegetable and a whole grain? Fresh corn is usually considered a vegetable, while dried corn — think popcorn — is a whole grain, according to the Whole Grains Council. Either way, you're getting a good amount of fiber.
Mexican street corn is a favorite summer dish for grillers everywhere. Traditionally, it's slathered in mayo and grilled straight on the cob. But this twist adds more tasty veggies and spices. A creamy avocado dressing takes the place of mayo and adds healthy monounsaturated fats and no cholesterol. It's great as a side dish or as a topping for grilled fish or chicken.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Mexican Street Corn With Avocado Dressing
6. Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers With Fresh Dill and Black Peppercorns
There's no better way to elevate ho-hum carrots and cucumbers than to pickle them in a delicious brine. Pickling is an age-old process of food preservation. While experienced picklers love using a canning preservation method, these pickled veggies use the refrigerator to keep them tasty and crispy.
While it's possible to eat these pickled veggies after a day or two, their flavor is much better after the full week. Worried about soggy veggies? Don't be! Thin and evenly sliced carrots and cucumbers stay crunchy in the refrigerator for months with a nice dill pickle flavor.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Pickled Carrots and Cucumbers With Fresh Dill and Black Peppercorns
7. Summer Squash Pizza With Creamy Mozzarella and Arugula
On the days when your local farmers market is loaded with zucchini and summer squash, grab a few and use them to make a pizza. That's right — pizza! Zucchini and squash are not only low in calories, but they're high in vitamin C. This light pizza is loaded with squash and topped with arugula when it comes out of the oven.
Since the recommendation of the United States Department of Agriculture is that half of every dinner plate should be filled with fruits and veggies, filling this pizza with zucchini, summer squash and peppery arugula help get you closer to that goal.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Summer Squash Pizza With Creamy Mozzarella and Arugula
8. Tuscan Ricotta Ravioli With Spinach and Mushrooms
Who doesn't love ravioli? But you might be too intimidated to try making your own. Why not take some assistance from packaged wonton wrappers? Ravioli are the perfect vessel to get more vegetables, and they fit nicely in the Mediterranean diet.
This way of eating is rich in plant foods, pastas, cheeses, olive oil and bread. It also came in as the number-one best overall diet for 2019 by U.S. News and World Report. Numerous studies, including a 2015 article published in Nutrients, indicate the role of the Mediterranean diet in prevention of chronic disease. The elements of this dish, including vegetables and olive oil, make it a perfect addition to a Mediterranean diet eating pattern.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Tuscan Ricotta Ravioli With Spinach and Mushrooms
9. Slow-Roasted Beets With Basil Pistachio Pesto
Beets just might be one of the healthiest vegetables you aren't eating. They're naturally high in nitrates, which sometimes get a bad rap for being used as a preservative in foods. But nitrates from beets are broken down into nitric oxide in the digestive system.
According to a 2017 review in Nutrients, the juice from beets may improve athletic performance by improving muscle function. Not an athlete? Beets are still a nutrition powerhouse. They provide vitamin C, iron and potassium, and one cup gives you almost four grams of fiber.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Slow-Roasted Beets With Basil Pistachio Pesto
10. Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Vegans and non-vegans will definitely agree that a delicious, creamy soup can't be beat, especially on cold fall and winter nights. And there's no reason that those who follow a vegan eating pattern shouldn't have a creamy soup sans actual cream.
This roasted red pepper soup is a cinch to prepare and gets its creaminess from pureed white beans, which also add fiber and protein. Make it easy on yourself and use jarred roasted red peppers and canned tomatoes.
Recipe & Nutritional Info: Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup
- JRSM Cardiovascular Disease
- Whole Grains Council
- USDA: Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Nutrients: Definition of the Mediterranean Diet: A Literature Review
- U.S. News and World Report: Best Diets Overall 2018
- Nutrients: Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Cardiorespiratory Endurance in Athletes. A Systematic Review
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Are Canned Foods Nutritious for My Family?
- Journal of the American Medical Association: Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets