5 Ways to Eat More Veg
(especially when you don’t feel like it)

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash-3

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] I[/dropcap]’m not a fan of ‘hiding’ vegetables. Even with a toddler in the house who is becoming more and more a fan of the word ‘No’.

Basically I believe that vegetables taste delicious when prepared properly and ‘sneaking’ them into things sends the wrong message.

But recently I was talking to my best mate in Melbourne and she made me reconsider my stance on stealth veg…

About 4 months pregnant, my friend was really worried because she had completely lost her taste for eating vegetables. She knew she should be eating loads of fresh produce but the thought of broccoli, kale or salad was leaving her cold.

Which got me thinking about my favourite ways to eat veg that don’t feel particularly ‘healthy’. I hope you find this helpful next time you have a fussy pregnant lady (or 2 year old) in the house…

5 Stealthy Ways to Eat More Veg

1. Add an onion
There are few nicer smells than an onion sweating down with a generous dose of butter. Apart from adding beautiful flavour, they’re a great source of inulin, a type of fiber that’s brilliant for feeding the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.

2. Use tomato puree or canned tomatoes
Tomato based sauces can be really comforting. If the acidity is a bit too much for you it’s easy to balance it out with a generous glug of olive oil or butter before serving.

3. Cauliflower mash.
Cauliflower is a wonderful veg to have up your sleeve because even though it looks all white and tastes fairly mild, it packs just as much of a nutritional punch as broccoli. One of my all time fave ‘comfort food’ ways to eat my cauli is pureed into a creamy mash. To be honest I prefer it to potato mash but I may just be the only one in my household who does!

4. Cauliflower ‘rice’ or ‘couscous’.
My other fave ways to use cauli. Cauliflower ‘rice’ is just raw cauliflower grated in the food processor. So easy and so good! For a healthier alternative to couscous see this recipe.

If the thought of using cauliflower straight up is too much for you, you can always substitute half / half with steamed rice or couscous.

5. Include legumes.
Chickpeas, lentils and dried beans all count as a serve of veg. Another reason I choose them over grains (which don’t count as a serve of veg, even whole grains).

What about you?

Got any stealthy ways to include vegetables in your cooking? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash-2

Spiced Chickpeas with Cauli Mash

This is pure comfort food for me… A creamy rich mash with spicy chickpeas. But the best bit is there are 4 serves of vegetables! And you wouldn’t know it to taste.

If you’re not familiar with Baharat, don’t worry, I’ve got alternative spices listed in the variations below.

enough for: 2
takes: 30 minutes

1/2 medium cauliflower, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon baharat (see below for alternative spices)
1 can chickpeas (400g / 14oz), drained
4 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Bring 2cm (1in) water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add cauli and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes or until cauli is really tender. (Be careful not to let it dry out and burn – add more water as needed).

2. Meanwhile, melt half the butter in a small frying pan. Add onion and cook over a medium heat until soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.

3. When the onion is soft add the spice, chickpeas and tomato. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt and pepper.

4. When the cauli is cooked, drain and return to the pan you cooked it in with the remaining butter. Puree with a stick blender or mash well with a fork.

5. Serve spiced chickpeas on a bed of cauli mash.

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different spice / no baharat – Baharat is a lebanese blend of 7 spices and a favourite of mine. The best substitute is to use equal parts ground cumin, ground coriander and smoked paprika. Or try curry powder or garam masala for a more Indian vibe. I also like to use the Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout

carnivore / paleo – Replace chickpeas with ground (minced) beef of lamb. Brown well before adding the spice and tomato.

more veg – add a chopped carrot and celery stick to the onion. Serve with loads of fresh herbs such as mint, coriander (cilantro) or parsley. Add a handful of frozen peas with the chickpeas. Serve everything on a bed of baby spinach.

vegan / dairy-free – replace butter with olive oil or coconut oil.

different legumes – replace chickpeas with white beans, black beans or cooked lentils (you need about 250g / 9oz cooked legumes).

extra protein
– add a handful of cashews to simmer with the cauli.

Big love,
Jules x

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ps. Is cooking at home something you wished you did more?

Then keep an eye out for the ‘Soupstones Dinner Challenge’ which will be coming in a few weeks.


  • I grate zucchini into my chilli and other mince dishes to get some veges into what is predominantly a meaty/carby dish.

    I also love cauliflower rice and sometimes do a mix of cauliflower and broccoli for my ‘rice’.

  • Zoodles !
    Zuchinni cut into thin strips in a mandolin (or sharp knife) lightly sautéed with a bit of oil, lemon and pepper. A great pasta/noodle substitute which often has the pasta eaters at the table a little envious.

  • I sometimes give cauliflower a quick boil- steaming would work too- to soften it a bit, then toss it in seasoned bread crumbs (chili powder or whatever spices you prefer), and bake for 30 minutes or so.

  • I wonder where your cashews come from? Here all I can buy are those that are grown on soil saturated by Agent Orange in Vietnam.
    The half-life of Agent Orange is very far in the future so I don’t think foods from Vietnam are safe. What is your take?

  • Thanks so much Jules for this recipe. Love all you do. Keep up the good work and can’t wait to try this recipe.

  • This looks amazing. I have been in a veggie slump – stressed out and just craving comfort food! I love recipes like this, especially when they’re so quick to make. My favorite trick is to add a green to a dish that is decidedly starchy. Like if I make roasted potatoes, I serve them with some rocket. (I know potatoes are technically a veggie but they don’t register as such in my brain!) If I can wrap the veggies around something I really want, then I will get through them. Similarly – throw some brussels sprouts in mac and cheese. Each bite of noodles will also deliver a clever little green bud :)

  • Ugh! Onions and cauliflower? I can’t digest onions, so I usually avoid them, though I know they can really add flavour to sauces. What is the best type to use and best way to cook them to help reduce the tendency to cramping and gas? I really struggle to eat enough veg. Also, my nutritionist is not counting legumes and beans as veg. I guess she wants me to try to eat more greens and other trad veg. This is my biggest struggle. Help!

      • Try using leeks instead. They are from the same family but often easier to tolerate. You can also try dicing the onion then covering it with cold water and a pinch of salt (if diet allows). This removes some of the sulpher-like bitterness and makes them a bit easier on the tummy.

  • I love the idea of this mash with the chickpeas. Thanks! We don’t tend to have to hide any vegetables here though (thank heavens) – having our mealplan and sticking to prioritizing the fresh veg in the fridge first means we get through them these days!

  • Hi, Jules, I am currently on a weight reduction plan of my own design. My Mom was of an older generation and thus her veges. were all overcooked and mushy. Because I have eaten many times at a n excellent Thai restaurant I now do my veges, in a microwave oven. Tonight for dinner ( a typical meal), In a microwave safe container with vented lid I used 69g. cauliflower, 97g. red capsicum, 37g. brussel sprouts, 37g. snow peas, 50g, baby peas, 72g. broccoli. I added 1bsp. water and cracked black pepper and mixed Italian dried herbs.I used no oil, one point I make I gave the veges, 5 minutes but introduced the snow peas after the other veges. had cooked 3 minutes. The result lovely crisp, healthy meal which included a previously baked chicken breast(90g.)All told 303.17 cals (1270kj). I can recommend this way, and I believe you retain the goodness in the vegetables. Regards to everyone, Harry.

  • Oh, yeah.. Include veggies so that kids (and hubs) will not detect and protest.. Mission nearly impossible. In my case “blender is a mom’s best friend”, because it is often not taste per se, but _consistency_ of vegs that makes them unattractive. So, tomato based sauce with onions, garlic, paprika, zucchini and whatever else… but totally blended. Add your favorite pasta, add baked minced meat (or small pieces of chicken, or sausage) – voila. Also any other sauce can be blended to hide unwanted ingredients. Or blend some squash/zucchini/cooked broccoli or cauliflower (and onion, of course!) through minced meat for extra juicy meat balls, burgers etc.

  • I just grate everything, cook it with whatever else I am cooking, so parsnips in cauliflower cheese for example.

  • I like putting yummy stuff inside lettuce leaves, such as tuna salad or meat sauce and eating it like a spring roll. Also, like one of the posters above suggested, wrapping deli or cheese around veggie sticks (carrot, pepper, celery etc) is a fun way to eat them.

  • I am sympathetic to your friend – I was off vegies when I was pregnant – I think baked potatoes were great comfort food with some toppings like coleslaw and easy. I also ate lots of falafel.

    As for hiding veg – my 6 year old still is very fussy about cooked veg and stews and soups but she loves vegies just by themselves on a plate – it makes me happy she loves her vegies and it is very hard to consider hiding them when eaten this way :-)

  • These are great ideas. And cauliflower mash sounds delicious. I make cauliflower cheese – steamed cauliflower covered in homemade cheese sauce, sprinkled with breadcrumbs, and broiled until golden brown. Served over whole wheat spaghetti or rice, it is a big hit in our house. What doesn’t taste amazing smothered in cheese sauce?

  • Homemade Sauerkraut!

    Full of probiotics, just use it as a condiment or with bacon and eggs in the morning.

  • In winter when I don’t feel like the crunch of cold salad, but want to have my vegetable lunch, I roast a huge tray or two of veges. Carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, no or not much ordinary potato, and then cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, corn, fennel, celery, mushroom, beets, red onion, garlic whole in skin. Whatever can be cut into bite size bits. I do it no fuss. Spray the tray with olive oil. Chop the veg into fork/bite size bits. Pack the tray. The more crowded and overlapping or even over-layered it is the moister the end veges. I spray the veg lightly with oil, or drizzle with olive oil sometimes a little balsamic on the onion and tomato bits. Sprinkle lightly with good salt and any other herbs and spices that appeal. Sometimes I add chickpeas. Sometimes bite size chicken thigh bits. But the basic is good. Sometimes I cover with foil for a bit, but mostly I just bung it all in the oven on about 160-170 and cook slowly until the hardest things are soft. I turn the veg or move them round if I can be bothered.
    So in short – open fridge – chop veg in bits – spray tray – shove veg on tray – spray veg- roast until all soft. Will keep in fridge for a week. Take to work or ladle out into microwave safe container – season with whatever you like (basic through to dukkah, relish etc) heat and eat – tasty yummy veg the envy of all.

  • i eat my vegs in a pho .homemade chicken stock to which is added many things.garlic,chilli,ginger,thai and normal coriander,rice paddy herb,range of mints,mushroom,carrot,spinach,garlic shoot,and as many vietnamese greens as possible ,with rice noodle and diced deboned maryland,finished off with fish sauce and thai basil.finely slice raw green tips into bowl,then eaten slowly is the second healthy idea.

  • Thank you for that wonderful recipe, Jules! I was already running out of ideas on how to cover up the veggies in our meals because my hubby is not a veggie fan (sadly). I will definitely try this but since I cannot conveniently buy baharat here, I guess I will just add more spices and herbs.

    • Check out the recommendations in the variations for no baharat Crystalcups! And you should be able to order baharat online if you ever want to try it :)

  • One of many Baharat mixes if you can’t source it as is.

    I grind this recipe down and it tastes amazing.

    4 parts black pepper
    3 parts coriander seeds
    3 parts cinnamon
    3 parts cloves
    4 parts cumin seeds
    1 part cardamom pods
    3 parts nutmeg
    6 parts paprika

  • I’m a bit embarassed to admit my cauliflower mash turned out more like a couscous in consistency. Maybe should have cooked it for a longer time, it was still rather bite-y 20 minutes in.

    Nonetheless, this was tasty and satisfying and i’ll definitely forward it to my girlfriend (who’s gone mostly-veggie recently).

    • Don;t be embarrased Stefan!
      YOu know cauli couscous isn’t such a bad outcome.
      It sounds more like you didn’t use enough liquid when cooking the cauli… next time make sure there’s lots of water and you’ll be fine :)

  • I went into my local asian food store and asked for Baharat and the shop assistant blew up at me demanding to know which one as it just meant mixed spice! Ended up having to leave as the guy ignored me. I went to another shop and got Ras El hanout but had to search myself as the guy there was also unhelpful.

    • I’m sorry you had problems Edel… maybe try ordering online from a specialist spice merchant next time :)

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