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Last-Minute Tricks for Sprucing up Plain Veggies


Use these super quick tips and tricks to upgrade plain veggies into a flavorful, enticing side dish.

quick healthy veggies

I admit, I’ve been known to fall into the bland-veggies trap with my kids. You know how it happens: the main dish is ready and the kids are hungry now, so you nuke a frozen veggie at the last minute and hope somebody decides to eat it.

Me? I actually like plain veggies. Give me some ordinary carrot sticks or peas with a pinch of sea salt and I’ll happily clean my plate. But my kids haven’t been loving veggies as long as I have (understatement alert), and they usually prefer their veggies presented with a little more flair.

The good news is, flair doesn’t have to be fancy.

Here are some last-minute upgrades you can make to simple everyday veggies to make them a little more enticing to everyone at the table.

How to Spruce Up Carrots

Upgrade raw carrots into a fresh carrot salad by grating them (even done by hand with a box grater, it only takes a minute or two). Toss grated carrots with a handful of raisins, a drizzle of honey, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

How to Spruce Up Green Beans

Green beans look and taste gourmet topped with melted butter and sliced or slivered almonds!

How to Spruce Up Edamame Beans

Old Bay on edamame? YES. Nowadays, supermarkets all over the USA carry this classic Maryland spice blend. And it’s not just for seafood. Sprinkle it on cool or hot edamame beans (in the shell or out) and enjoy the gently spiced and salty flavor.

How to Spruce Up Sweet Potatoes

A few teaspoons of coconut oil and a sprinkle of cinnamon turns regular cooked sweet potatoes into a veggie treat! You can even turn this tuber into a sweet breakfast hash by adding a drizzle of nut butter and a few slices of banana.

How to Spruce Up Celery Sticks

Here’s a two-ingredient dip that entices kids to eat celery AND helps them develop their palate for spicy foods: Stir a few shakes of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce into a small dish of peanut butter, and let kids dip. I know it sounds a little odd. Just trust me.

How to Spruce Up Cooked Spinach

bowls of creamed spinach

This one is straight from my own childhood, and my mom’s recipes. If you have freshly steamed or sauteed spinach on hand, portion it into cute ramekins and pour a few tablespoons of half & half over it. Creamed spinach might be old-school, but it’s still good! (You can go one step further and sprinkle a little cheese on top. I doubt you’ll hear complaints.)

Luck be with you tonight at the dinner table! And remember: serving those veggies is what counts, even if your kids choose not to eat them. They’ll come around.

Do you have a favorite last-minute hack to make veggies more appealing to your family (or yourself?) Share in the comments.

Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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I LOVE this. Thank you so much! I’ve read this blog for at least 5 or 6 years now, and was convinced that when I finally had kids, they would be veggie-loving super stars. Our 2 and 1/2 year old daughter seems to hate them…and I feel like I am running out of ideas and tricks! This is very helpful. Also, your statement at the end that they will come around gives me hope.