Mom always knows best- especially when they told us as kids to “eat your vegetables.” She was right- and you should listen to her!

For most students, moving away to college marks the first time living without parents or guardians. This means no more curfews, no more rules, and most importantly- no more parents to make sure you eat your veggies.

With no parent to force students to eat x amount of broccoli or carrots, many college students enjoy the newfound freedom of choosing a burger over salad. Especially with apartment living, students do not have access to the dining hall and find themselves grocery shopping for themselves. Salty snacks, sugary beverages, and junk food stock the shelves of the pantry and fridge. What items likely will not find their place in the fridge? Vegetables.

Numerous studies have shown that college students do not eat enough veggies in their diet. As quick, easy, and accessible become the priority over healthy and nutritious, many students reach for the instant ramen and frozen pizzas over the vegetables. The notorious freshman 15 quickly becomes a reality. And while, yes, I have to admit that I do love a salad, a lot of students do not. Here are 5 easy ways to sneak veggies into your diet that you won't even notice. 

1. Blend- It

Smoothies are an increasingly popular health trend. As a refreshing breakfast or post-workout fuel, smoothies are great at any time of the day. Smoothies are easy, portable, and modifiable for any dietary preferences. Pro tip: always add a handful of leafy greens to your smoothies because you can't even taste it! While some store-bought smoothies are loaded with added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients, homemade smoothies are a great way to boost fruit and veggie intake.

My go-to smoothie ingredients consist of:

- Frozen fruit (bananas, berries, mango, peaches, or apples)

- Vegetables (spinach, kale, cauliflower, avocado)

- Nuts and seeds (peanut butter, almond butter, flax seeds, chia seeds)

- Supplements (matcha powder, collagen peptides, protein powder, spirulina powder, cacao powder)

- Liquid (water, juice, non-dairy milk such as coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, etc.)

- Ice 

My favorite smoothie recipe:

- Half of a frozen banana

- ½ cup of frozen berries

- Large handful of leafy greens

- ¼ cup frozen cauliflower- you can't even taste it!

- 1 scoop of vital protein collagen peptides

- 1 tbsp chia seeds

- ¼ cup of coconut milk

- Few cubes of ice

Directions: add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smoothie is creamy. It’s that easy!

milk, coffee, smoothie, sweet, milkshake, cream, yogurt
Christin Urso

2. Pizza- It

Who doesn’t love pizza? Pizza is a staple in a college dorm and apartment, but this favorite food does not always have to be an unhealthy indulgence. Pizza is a great way to sneak in your veggies AND enjoy a cheesy fix. The best part about pizza is that the possibilities are endless! You can add whatever veggie toppings that suit your preferences. My favorites are mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and broccoli. 

There are also alternative crust options that are made of cauliflower and chickpeas. You can even spice it up and make pizza “boats” by using zucchini, eggplant, mushroom caps, or sweet potatoes as the base. Pizza is an uncontested favorite food at college campuses across the nation and is a great option to satisfy your cheesy cravings and eat your veggies.

3. Chip- It

You will likely find a bag of salty, crisp potato chips in a college student’s pantry. As opposed to the oily, fried, store-bought chips, you can make a healthified version at home using any vegetable. By swapping out the regular potato with other vegetables such as kale, carrots, beets, sweet potato, and zucchini, you can both satisfy cravings and eat your veggies. And by baking rather than frying, you can snack healthy. Making your own chips also allows for customization and the chance to experiment with flavors and spices. Homemade veggie chips are not only loaded with vitamins, but they are also lower in fat and sodium than the store-bought alternatives as you control what goes on them. Whether eating by itself or with a dip, these veggie chips are giving the classic potato chip a healthified, delicious makeover.

My favorite way to “chip” veggies:

-Cut up your veggie of choice in thin slices

-Sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper, and any herbs you want

-Bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes

-Enjoy- it's that simple!

Some of my favorite veggies to chip:

- Carrots

- Kale

- Beets

- Potato

- Sweet potato

- Zucchini

- Broccoli

vegetable, herb, kale, broccoli, cabbage
Alex Tom

4. Noodle-It

Just like pizza, pasta is another staple in a college student’s diet. While nothing beats the regular pasta and noodles, spiralized veggies offer an easy and nutritional substitute. I am not saying to stop eating traditional pasta- rather, I like to do half traditional pasta and half spiralized veggie noodles to sneak veggies into my diet without even noticing. Especially when it is doused in sauce, you cannot even taste the vegetables! Zucchini noodles- zoodles-are the most popular spiralized vegetable, but you can also spiralize squash, sweet potato, carrots, and potato to name a few. Mixing regular pasta with spiralized veggies gives you the best of both worlds- you get veggie-packed meals that taste like the original comfort food.

5. Bread-it

Nothing beats the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread straight out of the oven. From the banana bread fad in quarantine to the essential fall pumpkin bread, bread is a delicious and an easy way to add vegetables to your diet. Make sure to check the ingredients of the recipe, because while some bread is loaded with fruits and vegetables, others have loads of added sugars that make the bread resemble more of a cake. Bread is easy and modifiable- it can easily be made into muffins if that's more your style. Whether for breakfast, snack, or dessert, bread is good at any time of the day.

Some of my favorite bread/muffins to make are:

-Banana zucchini bread

-Pumpkin bread

-Sweet potato bread

-Carrot apple bread

-Chocolate avocado bread 
bread, brown bread, sweet, chocolate, cake, wheat, pastry, rye bread
Helena Lin

Vegetables get such a bad rap these days, especially with college students. The majority of college students would not choose raw carrots and broccoli over a delicious, gooey, cheesy pizza. But why can't you have both? Sneaking veggies into your diet allows you to indulge in your favorite foods while also getting your green fix.

So how much is enough? While 10 servings may seem like a daunting amount, by breaking it up between meals and sneaking veggies into your foods in ways that you don't notice, you can easily reach that range of 5-10. It may take an open mind, effort, and creativity to switch from the classic Lays to a batch of homemade beet chips, but a diet rich in veggies is good both for your body and your mind. Adding veggies into your diet is a great way to improve overall health and feel good about the food that you are eating.

It is no secret that college students could benefit from eating more veggies. The real secret is in how to do this in a way that still tastes good and is not just in a salad. Next time you go to the grocery store, make sure to stop by the produce section on the way to the frozen foods and snack isles to stock up for a week of smoothies, pizza, chips, noodles, and bread. Who said veggies had to be boring?