BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – A recent Food and Wine article highlighted the praline as Louisiana’s best snack food, and an unrelated survey revealed that the average Louisianan would sacrifice six years of their life to continue eating fast food.

While pralines and fast food make for great comfort food, they don’t typically offer the same nutrients found in a balanced meal.

But, what is a balanced meal?

According to most researchers, a balanced plate of food would have vegetables and fruits forming about half of the plate and the rest of the plate should contain proteins and grains.

To some, a meal with so much ‘green’ on the plate is downright unappetizing.

But if a person’s diet doesn’t include a sufficient amount of vegetables, they can become moody, constipated, and suffer from a variety of symptoms associated with vitamin deficiency.

So, if you’re one of the 25 percent of Americans who simply aren’t fans of vegetables, these five sneaky ways of including more green in your diet may come in handy:

#1 Sneak a little green into your fruit smoothie

If you add a handful or two of spinach into a delicious fruit smoothie, it’s likely you won’t even taste the vegetables. But your body will thank you for the extra fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, iron, folate, and potassium.

#2 Give your sandwich “the works”

Say you’re a person who enjoys a sandwich. If that’s the case, you should try adding more condiments than mayo and mustard to your next one. Layer it with lettuce, cucumber, peppers, and sprouts.

You might try sprinkling each of these veggies with some Cajun seasoning or Mrs. Dash and just a hint of hot sauce or Sriracha for an extra kick of flavor before adding them to your sandwich.

#3 Load your favorite burrito with veggies

The next time you make your favorite burrito or taco, take a few minutes to stir fry some mixed vegetables with generous amounts of your favorite seasonings. (If you’re not sure what your favorite seasonings are, you may want to try Tony Chachere’s Seasoning, Mrs. Dash products, or a curry blend and see which products you like best.)

When the veggies are seasoned to perfection, add them to your burrito and it’s likely you’ll enjoy the way the enhanced flavors of the vegetables compliment the burrito’s chicken or beef.

#4 Add veggies to your favorite pasta dishes

Pasta fans can easily become veggie fans by adding peas to yummy dishes of macaroni and cheese or sneaking some okra into the tomato sauce that covers a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

You might even add spinach and carrots to your favorite lasagna recipe for a flavorful and nutritious kick.

#5 Garnish your baked potato with green

A baked potato that’s loaded with broccoli, cheese, and bacon bits is a common comfort food and if you’re not big on broccoli, you can try swapping them out with a less offensive vegetable, like peas or cauliflower.

It’s imperative to give your body the nutrients that vegetables provide.

In addition to trying the tips mentioned above, you can also swap out regular potato chips for healthier veggie chips, occasionally try snacking on carrots and hummus, and ordering a salad instead of a hamburger and fries the next time you find yourself in a fast food joint.

Click here for more healthy meal ideas from the United States Department of Agriculture.