Alexis Schulze of Nekter Juice on How to Sneak More Nutrients Into Your Food

Alexis Schulze knows a thing or two about how to trick people into eating their veggies. The Arizona native owns Nekter Juice, a California and metro Phoenix based chain that specializes in making healthy food taste like a treat. She's also a mother of two boys and was a teacher before starting her business - so she knows how fickle young palates can be.

"I think the reason why juicing is so prevalent is you're putting {healthy nutrients} in a vessel that tastes good," she says. But Schulze knows that no one wants to live off juice alone. We caught up with her to get some tips on how to make all the foods your family loves, but healthier.

See also: 4 Veggie Dishes to Try at the Salty Sow in Phoenix

Obviously, we can't all eat healthy all the time; life gets in the way. But we can make small substitutions into our meals enhance their nutritional value. As Schulze puts it, "The biggest {idea} that Nekter was founded on is that there needs to be a sense of balance in life. Not everyone can be perfect all the time, that's no fun."

Schulze doesn't believe that people are born thinking that vegetables are evil, but somewhere along the way they learn to think that way. "The younger kids are, the less preconceived notions they have that 'green' is 'icky.'"

If you want to trick someone into drinking their greens, Schulze recommends adding a bit of beet juice to disguise the color. "That way you can sneak other things {big, bad, scary green things} in there," she says.

It's not just children that can benefit from the power of nutritional trickery. Schulze believes that eating raw vegetables (or juices) can help preserve your digestive capabilities as an adult: "When you drink raw, live food, you have all of these enzymes that help you digest those foods. You start to lose those as you get older. After age 35 we start releasing less enzymes - our bodies become less capable of digesting. Having raw, live veggies before a meal will trigger the body to release more enzymes." While we can't speak to the science here, we're pretty sure that no harm will come of you if you increase your overall vegetable consumption.

Schulze has a few ideas for how to try this at home - but don't worry about changing everything all at once. "Just a small amount goes a long way. If I don't tell my kids, they won't even notice." She adds that you can always start small and add more veggies later - "It's better to not get discovered!"

Having pasta? Swap out the starch for a healthy alternative. "Try using cauliflower in place of pasta; you get all the right flavors without the carbohydrates." Making meatloaf or meatballs? Use pureed veggies as a binder."You can always pulverize carrots and red or yellow bell peppers to add some sweetness and throw in some spinach with your herbs to give it a well rounded veggie mix. Be mindful of the water content and cut back on whatever liquids or broth the recipe calls for." Making a quick bread or sweet loaf? Try adding shredded carrots, zucchini, or squash.

As for her favorite healthy substitutions, Schulze believes in the power of "Sneaky Spinach." "I'm big on herbs and incorporating greens into herbs - chimichurris, salsa verdes," she says. She shared with us this recipe for a pesto-like sauce that will add a lot of flavor - and a lot of leafy-green nutrients - to any dish. "I love it on meats, meatloaf, eggs, tofu, lentil loaf - have fun with this sauce and experiment with other flavors and what else you can put it on- it's super versatile! It just has a fresh taste to it!"

Here's Alexis Schulze's Recipe for what we'll be calling Sneaky Spinach Sauce:

1 bunch baby spinach 2 shallots 2 cloves of garlic 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil 2 tsp of either lemon or orange zest (or both!) 2 tbsp lemon or orange juice

Put all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture reaches a fine, paste-like consistency.

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