ARE YOU EATING ENOUGH VEGETABLES?
If you are like most Americans, probably not! Did you know that 84% of Americans don’t meet the USDA minimum recommendations of 4 servings a day! Why is that do you think? What if I told you with a little effort you could easily get more vegetables into your daily diet?
We all know vegetables are healthy and you should eat more of them, but putting this into practice can be tough- especially if you often find yourself eating on the run. Let’s face it, take out food, especially vegetables can sometimes be pretty unappealing.
Before I share my top 10 easy ways tips to eat more vegetables, I’d like to let you in other quick facts on how vegetables can improve your health overall!
Health benefits of vegetables
First of all, vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other natural substances that may help protect you from chronic diseases, including stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. They are important for optimal health.
Secondly, they also can help with weight control because they fill you up with minimal calories. Anything with volume, water content, and a lot of fiber will help you to stay fuller for longer and likely eat less overall.
The fiber from veggies will also help conditions including constipation. And last but not least, many vegetables contain prebiotics (substances that feed the good bacteria in our gut).
Lastly, the importance of diverse vegetables to aid in creating healthy gut bacteria to overall health is a hot area of research these days and worth paying attention to!(more on this in a future post)!
Get your Nutrients On!
When selecting fresh produce, variety is really key because different nutrients are found in different fruits and veggies. But this is where the fun comes in … choose dark green, orange, red and yellow and purple!
TOP 10 easy ways to eat more vegetables!
Eat Farm Fresh
This is really very easy to do in the summer when so much great produce is at its very peak of freshness! Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, eggplant, fennel, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, peppers, potatoes, sprouts, squash, sweet corn, and of course tomatoes! The list goes on and on.
Not only does farm fresh produce taste incredible, it also contains more nutrients since it’s freshly picked. Local farmers markets are a great place to shop in the summer for a ton of variety and freshness!
Store Them Where You Can See Them
Prep some chopped veggies ahead of time over the weekend when you aren’t rushed and you have something ready to go when dinner time comes during the week. Try to prep a variety of shapes and sizes. Store them in your refrigerator on eye-level shelves in glass containers preferably! Chances are if you stick them away in the produce bin in plastic bags, you’ll forget about it.
Try New Ways Of Cooking
If you tend to favor sauteing or steaming your veggies, roasting or grilling is a really nice change of pace. These cooking methods can change the texture and tend to impart more flavor overall. If you’ve never tried roasting broccoli…it’s so much better than steamed, trust me on this!
Look To Add To Current Favorites
Dishes you might already make are a great place to start adding veggies into the recipe. Shred zucchini or mushrooms into turkey meatloaf, chopped spinach with egg scrambles, riced cauliflower with regular rice or other grains. Puree some into your next soup recipe. Use your creativity and increase your veggie servings pretty quickly. A vegetable is still healthy when it’s hidden in other foods!
Try something new!
Make it more interesting to eat by adding in variety! Try roasted portobellos, thinly sliced radishes, shaved fennel, yellow tomatoes, red bell peppers, chopped roasted broccoli. Use a base of arugula, spinach, or darker green lettuce to increase the overall nutritional content and vary the textures by tossing in a mix of raw and cooked veggies! Consider making extra roasted veggies for dinner and saving some the next day for your lunch salad.
Experiment With Flavor
If you don’t love the taste of raw or plain old steamed veggies, I hear you! Boring.
Some of my favorite ways to dress my veggies hot or cold are olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, freshly squeezed lemon, fresh herbs and lemon zest, grass-fed butter in small amounts, salad dressings made with different kinds of vinegar, stir-fries with garlic, ginger and scallions, and curries. Consider some of your favorite flavors whether Mediterranean, Asian or American and start there.
Add To A Smoothie
This is a great way to sneak in some extra produce into your daily allowance. Spinach and Kale mix quite well into the fruit smoothies and you hardly notice it’s there. It’s like a salad in a glass! Kale and Pineapple together are fantastic.
Start by making one new plant-based meal per week. When I am feeling uninspired I like to look through my cookbooks or check out magazines or food bloggers for ideas. I’ve discovered many of my ‘go-to’ recipes this way. Once you’ve made something once or twice and you know you like it, it’ll become easier, and preparing it will become second nature to you!
Buy pre-cut salads
Are you a lazy cook and struggle to prep vegetables or cook at all? It’s OK! You can still eat more vegetables with a little planning! Find the organic or natural food market in your town and stock up on premade salads and cut veggies..preferably without dressing, they’ll be healthier and keep longer. Organic brands of the frozen veggies work also in a pinch. Trader Joes is great for this!
This is one of my favorites. When I go out for pizza (which I love) I always ask for a huge pile of arugula on it! It works with really any kind of pizza and is pretty phenomenal! Great way to sneak in some extra greens!
When you live a busy life it can be difficult to eat well all the time, but if you can try to incorporate a few of these tricks, you might find you are eating a lot more veggies overall. So while you may not be able to always hit your target of 4 servings a day, the more often you can meet this goal over the span of a week or so…you’ll likely be increasing your intake overall.
To give you an example of what this might look like
Breakfast: Eggs with broccoli and mushrooms (1)
Lunch: Salad with roasted veggies and chicken (2-3)
Snack: Smoothie with spinach (1)
Dinner: Salmon with grilled asparagus and potatoes (2)
That’s six servings in a day!!
For other tips on better nutrition get on the waitlist for the Simply Nutrition Jumpstart beginning in January 2021. Sign up at http://jenniferkirschfitness.com