5 Shortcut Veggies: Finds That Save Major Cooking Time

Zucchini noodles
Ivan Solis/Stocksy United

Veggies are healthy-diet must-haves, but the washing, peeling, and chopping time they require is a bit of a turn-off. Save time (and your sanity) with a few easy produce picks. Here are my favorite time-saving veggie finds!

Cauliflower Rice

Rice, rice baby! Cauliflower rice is a terrific carb swap and it takes much less time to cook than regular rice, but breaking out the food processor can be a pain. I discovered pre-riced cauliflower and my life was forever changed.

Green Giant, Trader Joe’s, and other companies make packaged riced cauliflower. There are frozen varieties (great for those future rice needs) and refrigerated bags in the produce section (perfect for your weekly rice fix).

I have 6 favorite ideas for cooking with cauliflower rice. It is incredibly versatile: Enjoy some with lean protein, use it as the base of a burrito bowl, or whip it into a creamy risotto.

Spiralized Veggies

Like cauliflower rice, spiral-cut veggies are a life-changing calorie crusher, but making those noodles takes time (and lots of forearm strength). Thankfully, the no-carb noodle trend has exploded and many supermarkets now carry spiralized zucchini, carrots, and more in the produce section. Grab a pack, heat them up, and top with the protein and sauce of your choice. Dinner is served!

Not ready to eat your noodles just yet? Go frozen! Green Giant has a line of freezer-aisle spiralized noodles (available January 2018, just in time for New Year’s resolutions). In the meantime, check out Trader Joe’s frozen Carrot Spirals and Zucchini Spirals and get cooking with creative recipes.

Broccoli Cole Slaw

A meal starter in a bag! This slaw is better than regular coleslaw because it’s packed with broccoli (and fiber and vitamins A & C). It comes pre-washed, pre-shredded, and pre-mixed. All you have to do is steam it in the microwave for a few minutes. Bonus: It often comes in microwave-safe steamable bags.

Broccoli slaw is so versatile! Add it to your egg-white omelet along with some reduced-fat cheese. Use it as a simple pasta swap or add it to a broth-based soup.

Steam-in-the-Bag Veggies

Which veggies are the best for your delicious dinner entree? Let the package do the deciding for you! Grab a package of steam-in-the-bag veggies (we love Green Giant’s offerings), and pop it in the microwave. Don’t let your veggies be all cooked up with nowhere to go… Mix them into a stir-fry or burrito bowl or serve with a piece of salmon or chicken. Toss them with your favorite light sauce or seasonings and dig in.

Tip: Watch out for pre-sauced veggies, which may be higher in calories than you think. Stick to the plain veggies and sauce them yourself. This is just one of many common mistakes that turn healthy foods into bad choices.

Frozen Butternut Squash

Peelers down! Butternut squash is a pain to prep. But you can find cubed or mashed butternut squash in your freezer aisle. Lower in carbs and calories, butternut squash makes a fantastic swap for sweet potatoes (and regular old potatoes). Toss with butter and cinnamon or whip up a Thanksgiving-approved casserole (with mandatory marshmallow topping). Tip: Add butternut squash to mac ​'n ​cheese to supersize your servings!

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