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10 veggies that make dessert taste better

Zucchini and brownie batter are made for each other. On dessert duty for your next potluck? Make it unforgettable with vegetables. Yes, you read that correctly.

 

It sounds strange, but veggies have the power to make sweet treats even better. They can:

  • Make baked goods moister
  • Improve the overall taste
  • Turn an everyday dessert into a feast for the eyes with a splash of color

Adding vegetables to a baked good or dessert will not make it automatically wholesome. But this habit is a great way to rethink the role veggies play in your diet. Baking with vegetables can also be a teaching moment for kids in the kitchen.1

Get out there and experiment with these 10 vegetables that make desserts taste great:

Beets

Beets’ natural sugars pair well with many desserts. Their pink color can make the dish look beautiful, too. Many recipes will ask you to puree beets, not add slices. Make sure to have a blender or food processor on hand.2

You can find recipes online for:

  • Beet Cakes
  • Beet Ice cream
  • Beet Cookies
  • Beet Cheesecake
  • Beet Donuts

Zucchini

Did you know zucchini are related to watermelon?3 Officially, scientists consider both a fruit since they are the ripe ovaries of plants. In the average diet, however, zucchini is seen as a veggie.

With their high amount of water and fiber, zucchini can make desserts moister. Since they have a light flavor, they can easily hide in recipes that have powerful ingredients like chocolate.

When trying a dessert recipe with zucchini, make sure to leave extra time for baking. Adding zucchini adds more water. This means it will need more time in the oven to dry out.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Zucchini brownies
  • Zucchini cakes and breads
  • Zucchini muffins

Potatoes

Is there anything a potato can’t do? As a starchy vegetable, they can make almost anything. Including desserts.

Starches are considered complex carbohydrates, or polysaccharides. They are found in potatoes, rice, corn, and other grains.4

Starchy vegetables and grains work well for cakes and similar desserts. The mild taste of potatoes makes them easier to add to different batters. Most recipes with potatoes usually have a denser texture than other baked goods.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Potato cakes
  • Potato donuts
  • Potato pulis
  • Potato scones

Carrots

Carrot cake is a classic treat in the spring. But this vegetable can do so much more.

Like beets, carrots contain natural sugars that complement many desserts.5 The bright orange color can make your desserts look more beautiful, too.

Most recipes call for either shredded or pureed carrots. This helps bakers spread the vegetable evenly throughout the dessert.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Carrot cakes
  • Carrot cheesecake
  • Carrot caramels
  • Carrot scones

Pumpkins

Like zucchini, the pumpkin’s fiber and natural sugars make them a go-to addition to many desserts. When toasted, pumpkin seeds can also add a bit of crunch as a topping.

When looking up recipes, make sure to find ones that call for pureed pumpkin or pumpkin powder instead of canned pumpkin. Canned pumpkin fillings contain very little pumpkin. The main ingredient is actually squash!6

You can find recipes online for:

  • Pumpkin cakes
  • Pumpkin cookies
  • Pumpkin ice cream
  • Pumpkin sorbet
  • Pumpkin mousse

Spinach

Spinach is found in some of the world’s most famous desserts. Le Gateau Vert, Claude Monet’s favorite cake, has spinach in the batter and the frosting.7 This vegetable can add a beautiful burst of green to many different desserts.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Spinach cakes
  • Spinach muffins
  • Spinach brownies

Kale

Like spinach, kale can be a natural source of food coloring for desserts. One key difference? Kale is harder to break down. It has more insoluble fiber than spinach. That’s why many chefs “massage” kale before cooking with it.8

When baking with kale, many recipes ask you to steam or rub the leaves together in a kneading motion. This massaging action makes kale easier to puree.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Kale Cakes
  • Kale Cheesecakes
  • Kale Cookies

Avocado

The velvety texture of a ripe avocado is hard to beat. This trait makes it a go-to addition to many creamy desserts. You can substitute heavy cream or other dairy products with avocados. This trick is used in countless vegan recipes.9

You can find recipes online for:

  • Avocado Ice cream
  • Avocado Milkshakes
  • Avocado Chocolate Pudding
  • Avocado Fudge

Cauliflower

If you are looking to add vegetables to desserts without changing the taste, consider using cauliflower. Its naturally mild flavor will allow other ingredients to take center stage.10 Cauliflower can also make cakes taste moister. The vegetable’s high water content usually requires a longer cooking time.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Cauliflower cookies
  • Cauliflower pudding
  • Cauliflower cakes

Celery

With its delicate flavor, celery is a great addition to many desserts. It is even a flavor of soda!11

Like kale, this vegetable is high in insoluble fiber. Make sure to puree or thinly slice it before adding to a mixture. Getting a thick piece of celery stuck in your teeth can be an unwelcome surprise during dessert.

You can find recipes online for:

  • Celery cheesecake
  • Celery sorbet
  • Celery compote
  • Celery cookies

No matter what vegetable you choose to add to a dessert, make sure to have fun experimenting. This type of baking is a way to rethink what veggies can do for your everyday cooking.

Most desserts that use vegetables still require granulated sugar, refined flour and butter. These processed ingredients are not the most nutritious. Adding veggies to desserts will not make them automatically healthy. Baking with everything from beets to cauliflower is a reminder that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” food. Your overall nutritional choices and how you prepare foods is more important.

Looking for healthy, simple recipes? Make sure to check out our Health Library. There, you can find delicious takes on nutritious eating:

  • Find healthy meal recipes here
  • Find healthy dessert recipes here

Sources

  1. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011.
  2. Beet nutrition facts.
  3. SF Gate, 2020.
  4. Nutrients, 2018.
  5. Carrot nutrition facts.
  6. Inc Magazine, 2018.
  7. Information on Le Gateau Vert.
  8. Bon Appetit Magazine, 2018.
  9. One Green Planet, 2017.
  10. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011.
  11. Information on Cel-Ray soda.
Any information MetroPlus Health Plan, Inc. (“MetroPlusHealth”) provides herein is for informational purposes only. It is not medical, legal, or professional advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your health care provider or other professional. If you have any concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider’s office. This information is not intended to imply that services or treatments described in the information are or are not covered benefits under your plan. Please refer to your Membership Agreement, benefit summary, or other plan documents for specific information about your benefits coverage. While we endeavor to ensure the information presented has been obtained from reliable source(s), MetroPlusHealth is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information.
last updated: May 4, 2023

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