6 Game Changer Veggie Hacks to Clean Up Your Diet

Despite the fact that we all know we should eat our vegetables, who doesn’t find it difficult to consistently eat the recommended 5-9 servings daily?  However good your intentions may be, it can become even more difficult to get your veggies in when you have a picky significant other or little ones who refuse to eat them.  I mean, who wants veggies when a variety of comfort foods containing pasta, rice, grains and potatoes are readily available?  I can tell you personally that the struggle is real, particularly for pregnant women who only want to eat macaroni & cheese for every meal (I can neither confirm nor deny).

Luckily for all of us, there has been somewhat of a veggie revolution in recent years that has made many legitimately good veggie hacks mainstream.   This is great news because you can now find several of these veggies already prepped and available at your grocery store (score!) which will save you time.  The following six veggie substitutes for less healthy ingredients/dishes will make eating your veggies just a little bit easier without feeling like too much of a sacrifice.  Bon Appetit!

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Suburban AF squash mac and cheese
Photo courtesy of Pinch of Yum

You love macaroni & cheese, I love macaroni & cheese, essentially everyone loves macaroni & cheese, #amiright?  Unfortunately, with all of the pasta, cream and cheese in a typical recipe, it’s far from being a healthy meal.  Enter Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese!  Creamy, delicious butternut squash lends itself perfectly to making an out-of-this-world yet healthy roux.

Now to be clear, does this recipe taste exactly like regular mac and cheese?  Answer: no, but it is really pretty cheesy and tasty.

Try this quick and easy variation of Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese from Pinch of Yum.

Suburban AF’s Timesaver Tip:  Buy squash pre-cubed (either fresh or frozen) to speed up your prep time.


Cauliflower Rice

Suburban AF cauliflower rice risotto
Photo courtesy of All Day I Dream About Food

This veggie substitute is perhaps the most mainstream right now with seemingly everyone adopting cauliflower rice in favor of the carb-laden original.  Now I know what you’re thinking: ain’t no way a crunchy cruciferous like cauliflower could ever replace the real thing.  To some degree, you’re right that no one would ever be fooled in a side-by-side taste test with rice, obvi.  That said, it does come surprisingly close; it is tender but not *too* tender with just the right amount of chew to it like actual for-realsies rice.  The possibilities for cauliflower rice are nearly endless so it’s definitely a must for your veggie hacks playbook.

Try this absolutely delicious cauliflower rice mushroom risotto that you will scarcely even believe is healthy/low carb.

Suburban AF’s Timesaver Tip:  Buy raw (Costco) or frozen (Green Giant has several varieties and Costco has 5lb bags now) that’s ready to steam or saute with no other prep needed on your part.  Sweet!


Suburban AF thai chicken zzoodles
Photo courtesy of Joyful Healthy Eats

Zoodles are simply noodles made from zucchini, and if you haven’t made them before, you’re surely in for a treat!  Even those who normally don’t love zucchini (*ahem* my husband) tend to like zoodles as they really do take on the flavor of whatever sauce or dish you serve them with.  Jason is a tough critic of anything I tell him is healthy so the fact that even he likes and will eat zoodles speaks volumes about their role as a true crowd-pleaser.  They’re fairly easy to make at home with a spiralizer like the one I have if you’re so inclined.

Suburban AF’s Timesaver Tip:  Otherwise, if you really have no time to prepare zoodles at home, opt for ready-cut zoodles in your grocer’s produce section.  Our local Super Target carries them and I believe Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s do also.  Easy!

The only word of caution I will give is that zoodles can be very watery (and can water down dishes you put them in) if not prepared properly so do yourself a favor and read this primer on making non-watery zoodles to avoid any mishaps.

So how do you use zoodles?  The sky is the limit!  Simply substitute them in for pasta in any traditional pasta dish for starters.  Our favorite zoodles recipe to-date is this one for Thai Peanut Noodle Bowls which is absolutely phenomenal.

Try this recipe for Thai chicken zoodle bowls with spicy peanut sauce!  This has been Jason and I’s favorite zoodle recipe to date.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Suburban AF cauliflower pizza crust
Photo courtesy of The Detoxinista

With the popularity of cauliflower in the healthy eating universe right now, chances are you’ve come across your fair share of cauliflower pizza crust recipes.  You might be skeptical about the whole idea of cauliflower as a base for a pizza (I mean, really?!), you might be intimidated by all of the prep needed or you might’ve even tried to prepare a cauliflower pizza crust previously which was more akin to a Pinterest fail than a life-changing revelation.

After trying many, many, MANY different recipes claiming to have the perfect crust, I’ll be the first to admit that many recipes don’t come remotely close to fitting the bill, i.e. the texture is more like an omelet, the crust is too soft/fragile to hold, and/or the recipe calls for SO much cheese and/or cream that the end result is FAR from healthy.

Good news: You can skip right to the best and avoid the trials and tribulations I went through with this awesome recipe which is incredibly easy, solid enough to hold in your hand, insanely delicious and yet still incredibly healthy.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

suburban af sweet potato hash brownsYou’ve probably seen sweet potato fries making their way onto restaurant menus nationwide but sweet potato hash browns?  Who knew there was such a thing?!  If you love traditional hash browns but don’t love all of the starches and calories, you’ve got to try sweet potato hash browns with fried eggs and turkey sausage for an incredibly filling and healthy take on a traditional favorite!

Sadly, sweet potato hash browns are not currently something available already prepped BUT you don’t need any fancy equipment to make at home either.  You only need a grater which I’m guessing just about every suburban woman already has in her kitchen.

This sweet potato hash brown recipe from Simply Recipes has been my favorite so far and I’d definitely recommend it.  As a disclaimer, this recipe does still use butter to fry up the hashbrowns so that does add some calories back in but it also makes them delicious and crispy and absolutely wonderful.  #worthit

Collard Green Wraps

Suburban AF collard green wraps
Photo courtesy of Salt and Wind

You have likely not tasted or heard much about collard greens if you don’t live in the South but I can definitely give you reason enough to get acquainted!  These greens are PACKED with vitamins (score), make a great healthy swap for standard wraps/tortillas AND are pretty easy to prepare and store.  Oh, and did I mention these wraps just look so crazy colorful and amazing?

Collard green wraps are a logical place to start, simply subbing these bad boys in for regular tortillas or wraps.  However, you don’t have to stop there!  In fact, there are lots and lots of different use cases for them including tacos, burritos and even spring rolls.

See this blog post for a great overview on prep and 7 amazing collard greens recipes, including the chicken peanut wraps pictured on the left.


Bottom line: whether you’re trying to sneak more vegetables into your day or are avoiding grains — or hell, even if you just want to try something different — you need these veggie hacks in your life.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how easy and painless these 6 swaps really are and your body will definitely thank you.  Enjoy these veggie hacks in the above recipes and any number of other recipes you see fit to use them in!

If this post resonated with you, please feel free to like, share and/or join in the discussion with comments below to share your own veggie hacks and veggie recipes.  You can also bookmark my page and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest to stay in the loop with new posts from Suburban AF coming your way every Tuesday.

About The Author


Hi! I’m Lisa, creator and owner of SuburbanAF.com, a women’s interest/lifestyle blog for women living a suburban lifestyle. This blog is the natural evolution of earlier blogs I managed, including Becker it Yourself, centered primarily around DIYs. Join me on the suburban journey to Master Mrs. with Style with topics including friends, family, fashion, home, food, travel, fitness and health/beauty, all in good humor.

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