Like so many of you, I intend to work even more veggies into my meal plan this year. There will be more greens at breakfast and salads aplenty, but I'm also focused on another approach: incorporating vegetables into dessert. You see, veggies are super adaptable and many are full of natural sweetness that makes them a prime candidate to give sweet treats a wholesome boost.
All you have to do is prep carrots a little differently, and this sweet root vegetable is easily transformed into dessert. With the help of a vegetable peeler, thin carrot strips are the main star of an upside-down carrot carrot cake, while grated carrot can be mixed into rice pudding or Indian halwa.
Get a recipe: Carrot Halwa
2. Sweet Potatoes
The name says it all. These sweet spuds have a place at the table all day long, including dessert, so consider this just one more reason to bake a big batch of sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week. Once they're baked and puréed, add to smoothies and shakes; mix into cakes, bread pudding, and custardy soufflés; or layer on puff pastry for a simple tart.
Get a recipe: Creamy Orange Date Smoothie
Now that you know how to turn carrots into dessert, go ahead and give parsnips the very same treatment. These sweet, white root veggies can be used in all the same ways you'd use carrots. Add grated parsnip to cakes and cookies, or turn it into an Indian-inspired parsnip halwa.
Get a recipe: Parsnip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
The next time you're baking up a chocolate cake or batch of cupcakes, consider stirring in roasted beet purée. These earthy root vegetables are packed with a ton of natural sugar that concentrates even more when roasted. Beets are famous for enhancing chocolate's richness with a boost of natural sweetness.
Get a recipe: Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Sour Cream Ganache Frosting
Fennel comes with a mild licorice-like, anise flavor that mellows into a soft, sweet bite when it's caramelized on the stovetop or even roasted. Use it to complement sweeter desserts, like pudding, custard, and creme brûlée.
Get a recipe: Fennel Rice Pudding
6. Butternut Squash
You may want to consider roasting an extra butternut squash — one for dinner, and another for dessert. This naturally sweet winter squash can be used much in the same way you'd use pumpkin or sweet potato purée.
Get a recipe: Pumpkin Magic Cake
You already know that zucchini bread at breakfast is a total win, and that's just the beginning. Go ahead and add your favorite shredded summer squash to cakes and cupcakes by swapping it for shredded carrot, or give your next batch of zucchini bread a big dose of chocolate. You can also keep the oven off and add frozen chunks of zucchini to smoothies and milkshakes for an extra veggie boost at dessert.
Get a recipe: Raspberry and Almond Butter Smoothie
Take your love for avocado beyond the beloved mash on top of your toast and introduce it to dessert. It has a creamy texture that makes smoothies and shakes even more luscious, and does its very best work blended into chocolate avocado pudding.
Get a recipe: How To Make the Best Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Get a recipe: Che Bap (Vietnamese Sweet Corn Pudding)
Yes, cauliflower even has a place at dessert. Consider swapping riced cauliflower for traditional rice when making your next batch of rice pudding. It offers a similar texture with an earthy balance to the sweet, milky custard. Frozen florets are also your ticket to sneak more veggies into smoothies and shakes.
Get a recipe: Rice Pudding in a Mug