Like many folks, I used to hate vegetables and then, oddly enough, I became a vegan. Now, that was well over a decade ago. While I’m no longer a vegan, my past adoption of this lifestyle truly changed the ways in which I approached and embraced vegetable eating. It’s undeniable that veggies are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, as they are rich in disease-fighting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. As such, hating them is really not an option if you’re seeking to achieve and maintain good health.
So, if you’re finding it increasingly difficulty to meet the recommended daily minimum of 3-5 servings of vegetables, here are eight super-easy ways to incorporate them into your everyday diet.
Drink Your Veggies
Fresh juices and smoothies are great ways to sneak a ton of vegetables into your diet. To mask the taste, simply blend these beverages with fruit, yogurt, nut butters or other tasty nutrient-dense foods. To reduce the sugar content of your juices and smoothies, it’s best to use a fruit-to-vegetable ratio of at least 1:2 or even 1:3, as vegetables tend to be much lower in sugar and total calories. In other words, for every 2 servings of fruit you include add 4-6 servings of vegetables.
Go the Ole Salad Route
Vegetables are most commonly eaten in salads but they don’t have to be boring. When making a salad at home or choosing one from a restaurant menu, go for one that’s rich in high-quality greens like romaine lettuce, spinach or kale. From there you can include additional vegetables like carrot, broccoli, onion, mushroom, cucumber, beets and tomato in addition to berries, nuts, all-natural cheeses and other flavorful food sources.
Enjoy Veggie Omelets and Pizza
When it comes to traditional hearty dishes like omelets and pizza, go the vegetarian route by including lots of vegetables like sweet or hot peppers, spinach, mushroom, zucchini, onion, garlic and other. Since most veggies tend to be very low in calories and high in fiber, including large portions in these dishes can substantially curb your appetite thereby reducing the urge to overeat. This is especially beneficial if you’re trying to maintain a healthy body weight.
Eat ‘Em as a Side Dish
Whether you’re eating at home or dining out, vegetables make the perfect side dish for any entree. Some of the most convenient and versatile include broccoli, asparagus, spinach, carrot, kale, cauliflower, sweet potato, corn, mixed squash and mushroom. These veggies are most nutritious when consumed raw, steamed, lightly sautéed, baked, or grilled. To really boost the flavor and overall nutritional value of the veggies you eat, don’t hesitate to spruce ’em up with fresh herbs and spices!
Enjoy Veggie-Based Soups and Stews
Soups and stews are two of the best ways to get sizeable portions of vegetables in a single dish. Ingredients like green cabbage, onion, carrot, garlic, broccoli, ginger, celery, bell peppers and corn are among the tastiest. When it comes to veggie-based soups and stews, it’s best to consume those that are broth-based as opposed to creamy ones. It’s also important that you don’t overcook vegetables during boiling, as doing so can reduce their overall nutritional quality. Your vegetables should always be soft but not mushy.
Vegefy Your Sandwiches
To boost the overall nutritional value of any sandwich add a wide variety of fresh vegetables across the color spectrum. Since sandwiches are a staple item at most fast food chains, this shouldn’t be at all difficult to do. No matter where you are, take full advantage of every vegetable that’s offered and don’t be afraid to request “extra”. For a tasty, wholesome sandwich at the very least you should include plenty of cucumber, bell peppers, onion, spinach and tomato.
Try Grilled Veggies
If you like to set up your grill for a good barbecue, switch up your routine by adding a nice variety of vegetables to the menu. Vegetables are fantastic on the grill and serve as healthier alternatives to classic barbecue side dishes like potato salad and macaroni & cheese. Some of my personal favorites include mixed sweet peppers, red onion, red cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli and corn on the cob. When grilling vegetables, it’s good to skewer them or use a grilling basket. You can also use veggies for healthy kebabs.
Eat Raw Vegetables as Snacks
Snack time is the best time to eat vegetables. Although vegetables can be quite nutritious when cooked, eating them in raw form allows you to reap their full nutritional benefits. Raw vegetables that make good snacks include broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, beets and celery sticks. If the sound of raw veggies doesn’t excite you, make them more enjoyable and even more nutritious by using healthy fats like peanut butter or hummus as dips.
Most people just don’t eat enough vegetables on a daily basis. If you’re looking to increase your intake of vegetables, following these tips will ensure that you get your 3-5 servings of vegetables each day without getting bored.