By Arielle Fierman

Eating a plate full of vegetables of all the colors of the rainbow ensures your body is getting a variety of nutrients, minerals, fiber and tastes.  But, let’s be honest here, salads get boring pretty damn quickly and raw veggies as snacks – well, unless they’re doused in dressing, we’re over them.

With these 7 creative tips and tricks, though, veggies can be exciting (finally!).

Be adventurous. Buy one new vegetable at the supermarket or farmers market every time you shop. Be bold – the more unusual, the better!

Learn why leafy greens are so good for you! Click here!

Cut creatively. Mince, dice, cube, slice, peel, tear, carve, grate, chop, quarter or julienne your veggies. Next time you cut red peppers in those slices like you always do, experiment and julienne (cutting in even, long, thin strips). Instead of slicing your carrots into coins as you have become accustomed, try grating them into elongated threads. Fun shapes will change the look of your dish, adding more variety and producing a more satisfying and fulfilling meal!

Cook innovatively. Eat your veggies raw or experiment with different cooking styles- sauté, grill, boil, poach, roast, bake, steam or puree. Want a healthy, crunchy and delicious alternative to potato chips? Bake your own kale chips! Or broil up some sliced sweet potato and make them into fries. Or puree some steamed broccoli, onion, garlic and shallots with vegetable stock and make your own broccoli soup! Switching up the way you do (or don’t) cook your veggies ensures your body is getting a blend of nutrients.

Mix it up. Adding one veggie to every dish, especially a dish you normally wouldn’t consider veggie-friendly, is an easy way to incorporate nutrients, vitamins and fiber! Add some frozen spinach to your blueberry morning smoothie (you won’t even taste the greens and your body and blood will love you!) or make your own raw chocolate pudding (simply blend an avocado, raw cacao, agave or maple syrup with water and a dash of sea salt!). We promise, you won’t taste the avocado!  Or just garnish salmon with some diced peppers.

A raw chocolate fudge recipe! (No cooking required!)

Change it up. By simply switching up the texture, you can infuse a fun surprise into any dish. Add cubes of avocado to your crunchy salad for a creamy texture. Add sprouts to your turkey sandwich to add a bit of crunch and added energy, fiber and optimal nutrition. Dip sticks of jicama in your salsa as a healthy and crunchy alternative to chips!

Eat seasonally. Eating local, organic and fresh veggies ensures you’re putting fresh, toxic-free, hand-picked veggies into your body. This summer, the following vegetables are in season: snap peas, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, collard greens, corn, cucumbers, lettuce, mustard greens, peppers, radishes, spinach, summer squash, swiss chard, tomatoes and turnips. Going away for the weekend and can’t finish your box of snap peas? Wrap them up, stock them in your freezer and add to your veggie stir-fry next week!

Is eating locally really better for you?

Spice it up. Buy some condiments to add to your veggies or salad. Like it hot? Add some cayenne pepper to your plate of mixed veggies. Like Asian flavors? Sprinkle some toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds on top of your steamed greens for some added calcium and magnesium. Top your soup or salad with some herbs. Basil, parsley, thyme, mint, lemongrass and rosemary add fresh taste to any dish.

Crunch it. Top your salad, soup, or entrée with nuts for some additional crunch, protein and good taste. Add sliced almonds to your sautéed sugar snap peas, add a few pine nuts to roasted summer squash or toss pumpkin seeds into oatmeal for some extra iron, protein and fiber.

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