5 Tasty Ways to Sneak Veggies into Quesadillas
Cheesy, comforting, gooey, and very quick to make: basic cheese quesadillas are a household staple these days. Kiddos of every age love them! But the most popular nutritional advice isn't "eat more cheese every day"(if only!) — it's all about the veggies and fruits. Tweaking quesadillas for better nutrition is easy, if you just load up on the veggies. Pro tip: When you're toasting the quesadillas, make sure to keep the burner at medium or a bit less. This lower temperature ensures that the cheese melts through and holds all the vegetables together before the tortillas are too browned.
Sweet potatoes are packed with beta carotene and their sweet flavor is a serious crowd pleaser. Mashed, they're a smart stand-in for refried beans, and in this recipe, serve to hold the whole beans and corn kernels nicely in place. If black beans are vetoed, pinto or navy beans are great substitutes. Or, if sweet potatoes are a no-go, try Wild Rice and Black Bean filling, which also feature sweet corn and green onions.
Caramelized onions are generally a pretty popular veggie preparation, thanks to their wonderful sweetness. However, it's hard to gauge the heat of a jalapeno without actually taking a bite of each one, so if you're cooking for sensitive palates, swap in diced red or yellow bell peppers, or roasted red peppers. It takes about 20 minutes to prep the filling, but you can make it ahead of time and stash in the fridge for a day or two.
Thawed, frozen spinach will be sneakier here than fresh — or use fresh baby spinach leaves, as their short stems are much easier to disguise than the sturdier stems of full-grown spinach. Sour cream or Greek yogurt is great for dipping. If you want something more substantial, try the veggie-centric Spinach and Mushroom.
These quesadillas are packed with veggies in all colors, and the more finely you can chop everything the more festive (and less threatening) it will be — in fact, fine chopping will also help hold everything together and make it easier to eat. This mix is a great jumping-off point for adults looking to boost daily vegetable servings in easy ways, using summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and bell peppers.
Want to skip the cheese completely? Sub in peanut butter and pile on the fresh fruit! Peanut butter in warm tortillas with apples, blueberries, pears or banana slices is a dessert or afternoon snack that will definitely win you friends. Any nut butter will work, the thicker the better. Sprinkle sliced almonds or a bit of granola on the peanut butter before toasting on the griddle for extra crunch (and extra nutrition).