We eat with our eyes, and a lot of people want a burger patty that is pink or red in the middle. With beets, the patty actually resembles meat, or at least has a pink hue that satisfies the visual part of our hunger. Getting a nice crust on the top and bottom of the patty also creates the classic textural components and depth of flavor everyone wants in a burger.
Mushrooms are among the healthiest edibles we have, and they can easily stand in for meat in pasta dishes, thanks to their naturally rich flavor. Since the meat in a bolognese ends up being mostly about texture once the flavor has melded with the other elements, mushrooms work just as well, adding a slightly more earthy flavor and a lot more nutrition.
Recipe:Food & Wine
Fajitas are all about a deep grilled flavor loaded up in tortillas with your favorite toppings. Building a veggie version with the classics like onion, pepper, and mushroom still provides a satisfying meal without the meat. Especially when topped with guac, sour cream, cheese and salsa, the flavors are almost exactly the same.
vegan zucchini muffins
When baked into a soft and tasty muffin, the zucchini is all but hidden. There is no vegetable flavor to be detected, and the extra moisture it provides allows for a lower-fat version of baked goods with all of the flavor and texture.
Recipe:The Pretty Bee
Replacing the noodles with eggplant is a good way to sneak in vegetables in a familiar format. Once drenched in sauce and spiked with cheese, the casserole takes on the same flavor profile, thanks to eggplant's naturally mild flavor. This also works with "noodles" made out of thin strips of yellow squash or zucchini.
potato and kale tacos
Tacos are delicious in any form, which makes taco night an ideal choice for sneaking in some veggies. These kale and potato tacos are hearty and filling with different textures to keep things interesting. Using sauce or other toppings keep the flavors familiar.
This raw vegan version of ground meat is surprisingly delicious and meat-like. A walnut base is mixed with sundried tomatoes and seasoning to take on the traditional flavors of Mexican sausage. Spicing the crumble with oregano and paprika mimics the flavor of chorizo. Add a little vinegar for an even more authentic tang before adding this to tacos, salads, and sandwiches.
When in doubt, hiding vegetables in classic, family favorite dishes can get everyone to eat, and enjoy, their veggies. This recipe uses carrot and zucchini for extra bulk and nutrition in the meatballs. Once cooked and served, no one will know that there are any veggies.
Recipe:Once A Month Meals
loaded baked potato
Potatoes are an easy vegetable to love, and require just a little bit of butter and cheese to really become a craveable dish. This recipe loads up on vegetables within the soft and buttery potato, with just a sprinkling of cheese to bring it all together. Even though this feels indulgent, it's packed full of nutrient-rich vegetables.
Stuffed peppers create a festive touch to mealtime, and can make eating vegetables more exciting. The filling is based on lean ground turkey, but could be substituted with soy protein for a vegetarian option. The filling itself also includes a few vegetables that melt into each other by the end of cooking, making them less apparent while adding plenty of flavor.
Burritos have a lot of natural appeal; they are hand-held, highly customizable, and infinitely craveable. The flavors can come together easily without meat by either omitting it entirely and upping the quantities on rice and beans, or by substituting vegetables like mushrooms and onions.
ham and broccoli frittata
This is an easy recipe for everyone to love. It strikes a balance between hearty and light. Including a little bit of meat as the flavoring rather than the main ingredient can help vegetables go down easier. Ham and broccoli are a classic combination, but you could mix it up with any ingredients as long as there's a generous portion of vegetables.
baked sweet potato fries
Fried sweet potatoes are easy to love, and while traditional fries don't rank very high on the nutritional value scale, baked sweet potato fries do. Make this recipe your own by generously flavoring the fries to your taste with a barbecue or Cajun seasoning for example. Next to your favorite dipping sauce, it's every bit as satisfying.
buffalo style cauliflower
The best part of buffalo wings is the slight crunch from the crispy skin and the spicy and tangy sauce. Both of those elements remain intact with these cauliflower bites that take on a crunchy exterior and tender inside. Drench them in homemade or store-bought sauce for a game day treat with no guilt.
Recipe:Real House Moms
crispy baked zucchini fries
Zucchini has a naturally mild flavor, which allows it to be manipulated into everything from pasta like strands to crunchy fries. These large 'fries' are kind of like a cross between a traditional fry and a chicken finger. Well seasoned and crisped up, they are impossible not to love with your favorite dipping sauce.
veggie sloppy joe
Sloppy Joes are one of the few dishes you could make vegan without anyone knowing the difference. The heart of this dish is in the saucy seasoning, so replacing the meat with veggie alternatives is easy. Try serving this and letting everyone enjoy before you reveal the actual ingredients, as long as there are not allergy concerns.
3 bean chili
Chili is comfort food, and all about the spices. Bean chili is chunky, flavorful and every bit as filling as meat based chili. This recipe will work best for people who use ground meat in their chili with beans, not so much for Texans who only use meat in their chili.
squash mac and cheese
How do you make mac and cheese healthy-ish? Add some secret squash to it. Not only does it up the nutritional value since squash is one of the most nutritious and least expensive vegetables, it also adds creamy texture and subtle depth of flavor. The best part is no one will even know it's there unless you tell them.
A cousin to potato pancakes, these crispy golden patties are a delight to anyone who likes savory fried things, and who doesn't? They can be served as a side, or a light main dish, or even upgraded to the main event between a bun and with traditional burger toppings.
mushroom stuffed cabbage
Stuffed cabbage is old-country comfort food. This vegetarian recipe is full of hearty and flavorful mushrooms, but adding meat into the mix wouldn't hurt either. There's something about wrapping things up in little parcels that makes them more appealing, and you hardly even notice that you are getting a good dose of nutrient-rich cabbage.
Vegetables masquerading as rice is a helpful trend for those who need to sneak vegetables into their diets, as well as those avoiding grains. Approximating the texture and flavor of rice, this substitute is easy and cheap to make. Some specialty grocery stores also carry pre-riced cauliflower for extra convenience.
Essentially the vegetarian answer to a burger, falafel sandwiches are hearty and satisfying. Making falafel at home can be done with a store-bought mix or from scratch. The fried chickpea balls have just enough flavor and texture to hit the spot when you are craving a big sandwich.
cauliflower pizza crust
Admittedly not exactly like wheat based dough, this crust is a different kind of thing, but equally delicious. Two of the major perks are that it is gluten-free, and it doesn't taste at all like cauliflower. Pizza bites made with this crust are a sneaky way to incorporate healthy vegetables into snack time.
potato leek soup
Potatoes take on an ultra creamy and rich texture when cooked and blended. The mild and sweet onion flavor of leeks is subtle enough for those who are sensitive to a strong oniony bite. This rich soup tastes like it's full of cream, but it's actually totally vegan.
Recipe:Wake Up And Eat
Fried rice is a familiar and well-loved side dish or main meal. While vegetables can play a secondary role in the overall dish, it can still add up to a complete serving of diverse veggies. Adding your protein of choice in addition to egg, helps ease the mind of veggie haters so they don't even realize how much vegetable matter they are consuming.
With the flavor profile of tacos, the idea of vegetables becomes instantly more appealing. Renaming taco salad as "taco bowls" can also help for people who may have a negative association with salads. Sell it as a less-messy but every bit as flavorful alternative to classic tacos.
Recipe:Taste Of Home
Incorporating vegetables directly into pasta dough is a fun way to get diversity and nutrition into your diet. At the end of the day, it feels and tastes just like eating pasta, which is an easy sell to fussy eaters of all ages. If spinach puts people off because of the color, consider squash for a more classic color.
The healthiest of cakes, without the cream cheese frosting you might even be able to pass this off as a healthy morning or snack bread. This recipe is especially good for showing the diversity of carrots and other root vegetables in sweet applications.
Recipe:Mom On Timeout