Vegetable Tray Ideas to Boost Your Veggie Intake

Everyone could benefit from adding more vegetables to their diet. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 suggest that adults should eat 2-3 cup-equivalents of vegetables daily to support optimal health and disease prevention. But according to the Centers for Disease Control, only one in 10 Americans met their minimum daily recommended intake for fruits and vegetables in 2019. 

One way to increase your vegetable intake, especially during the warmer months, is by making fresh veggie trays. Consider these vegetable tray ideas to help increase your exposure and boost your overall veggie consumption.  

Benefits of Eating Vegetables

Vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Straight from nature, vegetables are packed with nutrients and there’s no denying the evidence that consuming them in plentiful amounts offers protective benefits for your health. 

Vegetables provide a number of benefits:

  • They’re full of fiber, a nutrient important for supporting heart health, digestive health, and bowel regularity. Surveys have found that 95% of American adults don’t consume the recommended minimum daily amount of fiber (approximately 30 grams), which can be easily met by adding more fresh veggies to your day. 
  • They provide an array of antioxidants, which are plant compounds that help protect cellular health. Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to your cells and ultimately increase the development of diseases. 
  • They can help support healthy weight management. Fresh vegetables are naturally low in calories, but high in fiber, which helps promote satiety and may prevent overeating. 
  • The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in fresh vegetables can help support healthy immunity and inflammation response. In particular, vitamin A, zinc, and vitamin C in veggies are known to promote immune health

What is a Veggie Tray?

A veggie tray is exactly what it sounds like a platter presenting a variety of fresh, colorful vegetables. Much like a snack board or charcuterie board, a veggie tray can incorporate a variety of other foods in small amounts. However, its predominant food will be vegetables.

You’ve probably seen the store-bought veggie trays made up of celery, carrots, and broccoli florets with ranch dip in the middle. While these are certainly one option, you can make veggie trays at home that are more exciting and provide other foods as well. 

How to Make a Veggie Tray

When coming up with ideas for a veggie tray, one of the most important aspects is that it feels enticing to eat. There are plenty of ways to do this. 

  1. Choose a cute platter, board, or other serving tray. 
  2. Make a dip (or two!) that you want to pair your veggies with. 
  3. Prepare your vegetables and arrange them on the tray. 
  4. Consider any other foods you want to include and find spaces to place them around your vegetables. 
  5. Serve your veggie tray as a table centerpiece at a meal, or an afternoon snack, or bring it as your contribution to a potluck or other social gathering. 

Selecting Veggies 

When you’re making a plan for your veggie tray, the most important aspect is choosing the ones you want to highlight. There are a few things to consider in this step. 

Depending on who you’re preparing it for — whether it’s yourself, your family, or for a social gathering — consider any dietary restrictions or preferences that your veggie tray ideas need to align with. 

Whenever possible, choose seasonal fresh produce to optimize flavor, texture, and appearance. If you have a local farmers market, this is a great place to find veggies that are grown nearby and support your local economy. 

Finally, be sure to include a variety of colors on your tray. Fresh veggies come in all sorts of colors, such as green, yellow, red, purple, orange, brown, and white. This is appealing to the eye and also indicates a nice mixture of nutrients. 

Preparing Veggies

Once you’ve picked out the veggies you want to use, it’s time to prepare them. Before they’re ready to eat, fresh plants will need to be washed and cleaned. Wash your hands first, and then wash your veggies in cool water, using some friction to remove any visible dirt and debris. Dry them gently with a towel. 

Using a clean cutting and board, slice your veggies however you like. For example, slice carrots into sticks, cucumbers, and radishes into rounds or half-moons, and broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Small tomatoes may be left whole or cut in half lengthwise. 

You can also consider making veggie skewers. Using skewer rods, alternate things like cherry tomatoes, basil leaves, and roasted tofu cubes or mozzarella balls, or try a combination of carrot, cucumber, and jicama rounds on a skewer. 

Arranging Your Tray

When putting your veggie tray together, making it as visually appealing as possible is helpful to encourage consumption. Let your creativity flow freely as you design how you want your tray to be arranged. 

You might decide to organize your prepared veggies by color, placing each group in a different place on your tray with dips or other snack foods between them as dividers. You could also come up with a design to mimic, like a garden scene with different veggies arranged in the shapes of flowers and trees. This works well for holidays, like creating scenes for Halloween, Christmas, or the 4th of July with fresh veggie combinations. 

Vegetable Tray Ideas

Making a veggie tray doesn’t have to be difficult but it can require some creativity to provide the versatility you’re looking for in your veggie exposure. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can prepare tasty and nutritious veggie trays at home for yourself and your family.

Here are some great veggies to choose from when you’re designing your veggie tray:

  • Broccoli florets
  • Cauliflower florets
  • Baby carrots
  • Bell peppers
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Edamame
  • Sugar snap or snow peas
  • Cucumber
  • Jicama
  • Celery
  • Radishes
  • Olives
  • Greens

Once you’ve chosen your veggies, consider the type(s) of dips that might pair well with them:

  • Ranch
  • Hummus
  • Tzatziki
  • Pesto
  • Thousand Island
  • Salsa
  • Bean dip
  • Creamy dill
  • Spinach artichoke
  • Tahini-based
  • Cheese dip

Finally, if you want to incorporate other foods onto your veggie plate, these work well: 

  • Crackers
  • Mini pickles
  • Baby corn
  • Cheese cubes
  • Dehydrated lentil snaps 
  • Nuts, like almonds, cashews, walnuts, or Brazil nuts
  • Nut butter
  • Seeds, like sunflower, sesame, or pumpkin seeds
  • Dark chocolate
  • Fruit, like sliced apples, oranges, mangos, pineapples, bananas, or pears
  • Grapes, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries
  • Pitted Medjool dates
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Roasted tofu cubes 

Takeaway

While most people aren’t eating nearly enough vegetables to support their best health, this doesn’t have to be true for you. If you’ve been struggling to incorporate vegetables into your lifestyle, consider making veggie plates a part of your weekly planning routine.

Getting more vegetables in front of you on a regular basis is the best way to increase your intake of them. There are no standard rules to making a veggie tray, so put on your creative hat and lean into what looks and sounds good to you. Perhaps this means including a dip or two, savory or crunchy foods, or a few sweeter options like fruit or dark chocolate as part of your tray. 


Whatever veggie plate ideas you use, this can create a perfect opportunity for you to experiment with new vegetables you’re not used to and learn to enjoy them in new ways. Most importantly, there’s no denying that getting veggies into your regular diet pattern helps support your health and wellness.

 

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