Vegetables are arguably the most important part of a healthy diet. Health and nutrition experts advise that people get a minimum of 2 ½ to 3 servings of vegetables each day, with more being even better. Yet despite recommendations and the many virtues offered by vegetables, most of us are simply not getting enough each day. With these simple, surprising tips we can all sneak in more vegetables each and every day.
- PUREE– Puree steamed vegetables in the blender or food processor to create an easy way to add vegetables into sauces, soups, and casseroles. Try adding a blend of pureed veggies to marinara sauces, or stir in a puree of cauliflower to cheesy and creamy recipes such as macaroni and cheese.
- PREP– Half the battle of adding more vegetables to your daily diet lies in the issue of availability. Just the simple act of having vegetables prepped and ready to grab when hunger strikes will almost automatically help you eat more vegetables. Keep a container of washed and prepped raw vegetables in your fridge so you and your family can grab some to snack on whenever you open the refrigerator door!
- REPLACE– Vegetables can make a great replacement for some foods, especially for grains. Try using spaghetti squash instead of pasta, finely chopped (“riced”) cauliflower instead of rice, and sliced carrots or cucumbers instead of crackers.
- BEGIN– Breakfast is a meal that often lacks in vegetables. Begin your day the right way by including vegetables as a staple of your breakfast. Toss spinach, kale, beets, or carrots into a smoothie. Chop leftover veggies to add to your eggs. Don’t be afraid to creative—options like salads work just as well at breakfast as other times of the day!
- PLAN– Plan for the week ahead by doing things like roasting a big tray of veggies on Sunday afternoon (or whenever you get ready for the week ahead) to add to meals or snacks throughout the week. Toss in a protein like grilled chicken and you have a readymade meal to take to work or to server your family on a busy night!
- ALTER– Don’t be afraid to alter a recipe to increase the amount of vegetables included. In most cases it will not negatively affect the recipe whatsoever. Try tossing more mushrooms to top your homemade pizza, layer sliced eggplant in with your lasagna, or add more tomatoes and red pepper to chili.
- SIP– Adding vegetables like spinach, kale, beets, and carrots to your smoothies or juices is a great way to effortlessly sip on your vegetables. Not only does doing so provide you with the nutrients of vegetables, by replacing some of the fruits, adding vegetables also cuts down on the sugar of fruits.
- FAVOR– Find some favorite go-to vegetable options to make getting in your vegetables more fun. You may not like every single vegetable, but you can definitely find some that you adore. Cauliflower’s mild flavor makes it a popular choice, and the slight sweetness of many squashes also make them a winner for many. Additionally, experiment with different ways of cooking vegetables. If you don’t enjoy a particular vegetable steamed, try broiling or baking it to change the texture to something more appealing!