Does anyone else love the smell of fresh vegetables? Does anyone else hate when that smell goes away a few days later? One of the best parts about spring is the access to seasonal crops it provides—and since spring is almost here (almost might be a bit of a stretch, but let’s be excited anyway)—, it seemed like the perfect time to find ways to continue enjoying veggies, even when they aren’t newly-plucked from a garden.

In my opinion, raw veggies are one of the best snacks out there. Not only are they full of fiber, they also require little-to-no time and effort to prepare, and—of course!—vegetables have numerous health benefits.

Their only downside? Vegetables tend to lose their freshness rather quickly! So while you may be more than happy to munch on raw veggies on day one, by day three or four, you can be feeling a bit “blah” about your produce selection and, needless to say, this is probably not enticing you into eating as well as you could be.

So what to do? Letting them slowly spoil is an obvious waste, but it can be a bit hard to prompt yourself into reaching towards veggies even when they are garden-fresh. One possible solution is grilling or stir-frying them.

However, grilling veggies—though the end product is almost always amazing—requires time, energy and can be a bit of a hassle when you are on-the-go. So while grilling them is one option to transform lackluster veggies into a tasty dish, an even easier option exists!

Here are 3 simple, affordable items that can be used to turn dull veggies into a delicious healthy treat, with no cooking required.  Mix and match or combine all three for a flavorful burst.

1. Hummus. For those of you who don’t know, hummus is made from crushed chickpeas. Originating from the Middle-East, hummus is now a “Health Nut” staple. It has become so popular in the last few years that it is pretty much carried in all super markets. Most brands have tons of different flavors (roasted tomato is my current favorite) and the best part about this now-mainstream dip is the fact that it is both readily available and affordable.  It pairs well with carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, (basically anything crunchy!) and it also packs a protein punch, which keeps you full longer than if you had just been munching on veggies alone. An added bonus: Lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals and—best of all—it’s low-calorie.

photo by  target="_blank">dharmabumx

photo by dharmabumx

Prep Step: Basically, all you have to do it open the container, scoop out a spoonful of hummus and enjoy as a dip or a spread over your veggies. Super easy!

2. Lemons. Not only are lemons super zesty, they also spectacular at enhancing other flavors. Plus, lemons have long been hailed for their pH-balancing, antibacterial properties, in addition to the ability to cleanse palates and freshen breath.

Prep Step: The thing to keep in mind here is that a little goes a long way. It is only necessary to cut a small slice of lemon for a large plate of veggies, as even a small piece of lemon can squeeze out quite a bit of liquid. Simply sprinkle lemon juice over the veggies, let sit for a few minutes and then start snacking.

3. Pepper. In general, black pepper is a great way to add in a lot of flavor, with very few calories. Like lemon, it is perfect for bringing out specific flavors and vegetables are no exception! Black pepper is also said to improve digestion, so that’s an added benefit.

Prep Step: Just sprinkle a bit of pepper onto the veggies and you’re good to go!

Happy Snacking! Does anyone else have tips to spruce up unexciting produce? Or, better yet, a secret ingredient to sustain fruit and veggies freshness?

Bree Steinbronn

Bree Steinbronn is a Bay Area native who enjoys hiking, drinking green tea and going on as many adventures as she possibly can.

 

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