How to Sneak Vegetables Into Your Dessert

Three Parts:Trying Dessert Recipes with VegetablesChoosing Vegetables to Add to DessertsTrying Clever Tricks to Sneak Vegetables Into Desserts

Whether you're a picky eater or have a child who doesn't like vegetables, sneaking them into a dessert is a great way to boost your nutrition. Vegetables and vegetable-like fruits (like winter squashes or avocados) are an essential food group for both kids and adults. They provide a significant amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help support a growing body and general health.[1] Although you may not think vegetables belong in a dessert, you'd be surprised how well they blend into sweet treats. For example, many vegetables have a naturally sweet flavor and taste delicious as a dessert (think pumpkin pie). Working with the right types of vegetables and the right recipes can help you sneak these nutritious foods in your diet.

Part 1
Trying Dessert Recipes with Vegetables

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    Make chocolate avocado mousse. Swap out packaged chocolate mousse or pudding for homemade avocado mousse. Full of heart healthy vegetables and a serving of vegetables, this is a great alternative.[2]
    • Melt 1/2 cup of dark or semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for 30-60 seconds. Stir until they are all melted and smooth.
    • Scrape down the melted chocolate into a bowl of a food processor. Then add: 4 ripe avocados (chopped), 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1/2 cup of honey (more or less to your tastes), 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, a pinch of salt and 1/3 cup of low-fat milk.
    • Process the ingredients until they become smooth and creamy. Taste your mousse and adjust for seasonings if needed.
    • Spoon the avocado mousse equally between 4 small bowls. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Serve with a garnish of fresh fruit or mint leaves.
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    Use butternut squash for a pudding. Instead of making a more traditional dessert - like butternut squash pie - try making an easy and quick butternut squash pudding.[3]
    • Roast an entire butternut squash in the oven. Scoop out the contents once cool and pureed to you reach a smooth and creamy consistency. You can also use 100% pure canned butternut squash if you'd like.
    • In the bowl of a food processor, combine 3/4 cup of your butternut squash puree with 2 tablespoons (29.6 ml) of maple syrup, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tsp of cinnamon, a pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of low-fat milk.
    • Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and taste your pudding. Adjust for seasonings as needed. Refrigerate your pudding for at least 2 hours before serving.
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    Make homemade beet sorbet. Although you'll be able to see the bright pink color in this sorbet, it's sure to excite anyone. It's naturally sweet and easy to make.[4]
    • Drain two 16 oz cans of canned beets in water. Chop beets roughly so they can be pureed in a food processor.
    • In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chopped beats, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of apple juice and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Puree the mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy in consistency.
    • Chill the beet sorbet for an hour in the refrigerator. Then, place the sorbet mixture in an ice cream machine and freeze per the manufacturers directions. Keep sorbet frozen until ready to serve.
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    Whip up black bean brownies. Make a higher fiber, higher protein version of brownies by adding black beans. They'll be totally concealed by the dark color of the brownies but not affect the delicious chocolate flavor.[5]
    • To start, preheat your oven to 350F. Grease an 8"x8" baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
    • In the bowl of a food processor blender, combine the following ingredients: 3 eggs, 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained), 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and 1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder. Blend until completely smooth and combined.
    • Pour brownie batter into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle over 1/2 cup of chocolate chips evenly over the top.
    • Bake about 30 minutes or until the sides of the brownies began to pull away from the sides of the baking dish. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating.
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    Try classic dessert recipes. If you're running out of ideas for dessert recipes, think about some of the classic dessert recipes that already feature vegetables. You can make these and have everyone enjoy a serving of vegetables. Try:
    • Pumpkin or sweet potato pie
    • Morning glory muffins (which generally contain shredded carrots)
    • Zucchini bread
    • Carrot cake
    • Rhubarb pie

Part 2
Choosing Vegetables to Add to Desserts

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    Choose naturally sweet vegetables. Although sneaking vegetables into a dessert is a great trick, not all vegetables are "dessert-friendly." Veggies that have a strong flavor or bitter flavor can be more difficult to hide.[6] Go for naturally sweet vegetables like:
    • Butternut or acorn squash
    • Pumpkin
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Zucchini
    • Beans
    • Avocado
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    Avoid vegetables with a strong, intense or bitter flavor profile. In addition to choosing a naturally sweet vegetable, also avoid vegetables that have a strong or bitter flavor. You may notice that you can still taste the vegetable even in a dessert recipe. Typically, you might want to avoid vegetables like:
    • Spicy and bitter dark greens like mustard greens, collard greens, arugula or dandelion greens
    • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussels sprouts
    • Asparagus
    • Onions and garlic
    • Eggplant
    • Radishes
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    Go with beans. Beans are a unique plant that is high in fiber and protein. Their creamy consistency make these protein-filled legumes great to sneak into desserts without anyone knowing the wiser.
    • Beans are a very nutritious legume to add to desserts. They're very high in fiber, protein and a variety of minerals.[7]
    • They work great in desserts because they can be pureed or mashed into a creamy and smooth consistency. In addition, beans don't have a very strong flavor or a tough or crunchy texture that would make them noticeable in a dessert recipe.
    • Beans work well in recipes like cakes, brownies, and cookies. Once blended into a cake or quick bread batter, you'd never know they were there.
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    Include healthy fats with avocado. You can make many more recipes with an avocado outside of guacamole. This creamy vegetable is full of healthy fats which makes it a great addition to many dessert recipes.
    • Avocado is a very nutrient dense vegetable. It's known for being very high in many heart-healthy fats. However, it's also high in Vitamins E, C, K and the antioxidants lutein and beta carotene.[8]
    • Like beans, avocados can be pureed into a smooth and creamy dessert ingredient. Their healthy fats make them very rich and almost decadent which helps make any dessert feel a little more indulgent.
    • Avocados can be added to many desserts. However, their green color might show, so you may want to pick recipes that are chocolate based or are dark colored after they're baked or cooked. You can add avocados to homemade puddings, mousses and ice cream (especially chocolate) and they can even be added to baked goods like chocolate or red velvet cupcakes.
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    Choose sweet winter squashes. Naturally sweet winter squashes (like butternut squash and pumpkin) are commonly found in desserts - especially in the fall and winter. Their sweet flavor pairs well with many dessert recipes and sweet spice mixes.
    • Winter squashes are known as very nutrient dense vegetables. Their bright orange color signifies they are exceedingly high in Vitamin A. In addition, they're high in fiber, Vitamin C and beta carotene.[9]
    • Winter squashes need to be boiled or roasted and then pureed or mashed in order to be used in recipes. However, using 100% canned pumpkin or butternut squash works as well. They have a smooth and creamy consistency which works well in baked goods and as the filling of pies.
    • You can use winter squashes to make traditional pies (like pumpkin pie) but they can also be used to make puddings, muffins or quick breads.
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    Include summer squash. You may not think that summer squash like zucchini or yellow squash would work well in desserts. But both of these summer vegetables have very little flavor and can be shredded into a variety of desserts.
    • Both zucchini and yellow squash are not overly nutrient dense. However, they're low in calories and contain a moderate amount of fiber and Vitamin C.[10]
    • If you want to use either zucchini or yellow squash, make sure to shred them finely and squeeze out any liquid before using.
    • They're great used in quick breads, muffins or cakes. You may want to consider peeling them to avoid seeing any flecks of green or yellow in your foods. However, adding chocolate to these dishes can hide any colors (like chocolate zucchini bread).
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    Incorporate sweet roots. Some common root vegetables serve well in desserts too. Foods like beets, carrots and sweet potatoes are naturally very, very sweet. They can be cooked and pureed and added to a variety of desserts.
    • Bright pink beets are full of vitamins and minerals. Beets are particularly high in some minerals like iron, zinc, copper and selenium.[11]
    • Both carrots and sweet potatoes are also quite nutrient dense. Both of these orange vegetables are high in beta carotene, Vitamin A, potassium, folate and Vitamin E.[12]
    • For any of these vegetables, they'll need to be boiled or roasted and then pureed in order to be used in desserts.
    • Beets in particular are great in brownies, chocolate or red velvet cupcakes, and even sorbet. Carrots are great in muffins and quick breads, while sweet potatoes can be used to make pie, quick breads or muffins.

Part 3
Trying Clever Tricks to Sneak Vegetables Into Desserts

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    Use recipes that completely hide vegetables. If you're trying to sneak in vegetables to an overly picky eater, you want to choose dessert recipes that will completely hide your veggie of choice. Even seeing a little fleck of green or orange can throw you or a child off. Go for recipes like:
    • Brownies or blondies
    • Quick breads and muffins
    • Puddings and mousses
    • Ice cream and sorbets
    • Pies and cakes
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    Use pureed vegetables as a fat replacement. To make recipes a little more nutritious and lower in fat, you can use pureed vegetables in place of the butter or oil in many recipes. This helps boost the nutrition and helps you meet your daily vegetable needs.
    • Many recipes that use pureed vegetables use the same ratio requirements that are recommended when using applesauce in recipes. It's a 1:1 ratio pureed vegetable to oil.[13]
    • For example, if your recipe calls for 1/4 cup of oil, you'll want to replace that with 1/4 cup of a pureed vegetable (like pumpkin).
    • Although this type of substitution does help improve the nutrition of a dessert, it will change the texture and flavor slightly. It's recommended to let baked goods sit to cool for a minimum of 10-15 minutes to prevent crumbling when they're sliced or cut.
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    Use baby food purees or canned items. You might find it a little easier and more convenient to use pre-made vegetable purees. Try using canned vegetable purees or even pick up a few jars of baby food.
    • Many vegetable dessert recipes call for just a small amount of pureed vegetables. For example, a recipe may only call for 2/3 of a cup of pureed butternut squash. Compared to an entire butternut squash, this is just a small amount and you'll have a lot of leftovers.
    • To help you cut down on unnecessary leftovers, try using canned pureed vegetables. You can generally find items like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and butternut squash in canned form. Make sure you buy 100% pure canned vegetables - not a mix that has added ingredients.
    • You may also want to consider getting baby food as well. These come in even smaller amounts which can be helpful. In addition, you can find a huge range of options - anything from pureed peas, carrots to butternut squash.
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    Shred vegetables. If you don't have an overly picky eater in the house, you might want to consider using shredded vegetables. However, these can contain a lot of liquid which you'll need to be careful of when you're cooking.
    • Vegetables that can be shredded and used in many dessert recipes - especially baked goods - include: zucchini, summer squash, carrots and beets.
    • These can be a great source of extra nutrition in baked goods, but also add a little moisture to your dessert items.
    • Some vegetables, like zucchini, need to be drained so you don't add too much extra liquid to your recipe. This is especially important for baked goods. Most recipes suggest squeezing fresh shredded vegetables in a clean dish towel until all the water is squeezed out.

Tips

  • There are a ton of dessert recipes that you can sneak vegetables into without anyone knowing the wiser.
  • Try to choose naturally sweet vegetables like beets, pumpkin or sweet potatoes.

Article Info

Categories: Maintaining Diets | Fruits and Vegetables