Today is National Healthy Eating Day. Healthy eating means different things to different people. Perhaps you follow a Paleo diet, or vegan, or anything in between. One thing no one will argue with is that you should find ways to eat more vegetables.
You’ve been hearing it your whole life. Your parents told you to eat your vegetables when you were young, and then as an adult, your inner voice agreed. Why then, are we still falling short of this important mandate? It could be that we simply don’t like vegetables. It could be that we’re bored of the ways we’ve been eating them. Maybe it seems too difficult to include them on busy nights. Or perhaps we have a bit of rebellion clinging to life. Our parents commanded that we finish our vegetables and we have a subconscious desire to subvert their will.
No matter the reason, after reading these simple ways to incorporate more veggies into your diet, you’ll be out of excuses. Over the years I’ve made it a point to find a way. It’s important to my health so it’s important to me. If you know anything about me you know that I’m not only here to exist on this earth, I’m here to thrive. Eating more vegetables is paramount to achieving that. Today I’ll share seven simple ways to eat more vegetables. Some may surprise you!
#1 Understand Why More Vegetables Are Important
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute! That’s not a tip for getting in more vegetables!” Oh, but it is. Chances are, you know in the general sense that vegetables are good for you. But if you know the specifics on *why* exactly they’re good for you – what they do for your body and health – you are more likely to make an effort to include them.
I’m not going to go over the benefit of every vegetable. But I will talk about the group of vegetables known to be the most beneficial— leafy greens.
If you are trying to improve your health, dark leafy greens should be at the top of your list of foods you should incorporate today. They are proven to generally reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and mental decline. Below is just a sampling of reasons you should find ways to eat more vegetables.
Dark, Leafy Greens Are Rich In:
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Immune Health
- Essential to collagen production
- Vitamin K
- Essential for bone health
- Needed for blood clotting
- Increase energy
- Enhance mood
- Stimulate immune system
- Boost skin and hair health
- Improve memory
- Fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium
- Promotes heart health
- helps prevent certain birth defects
- lowers the risk of colon polyps by 30 to 40%
#2 Choose Vegetable-Based Entrees
You’ve heard of Meatless Mondays, I say try to go meatless 1-2 dinners per week. If your meal doesn’t include meat, chances are, it naturally includes more vegetables. However, that is not necessarily the case. Choose recipes on these nights, that are heavy on the vegetables. Heavy on the vegetables equals heavy on the good vitamins and minerals.
Here’s a video detailing How to Roast Vegetables (Plus 6 Ways to Enjoy Them!) From Minimalist Baker
Or try this Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie (Called Cottage Pie in the UK) from Jaime Oliver
#3 Add Vegetables to Dishes You Already Make
A simple way to get more vegetables into your diet is to add them to the dishes you already make. It really can be that easy or even a little sneaky.
Try wilting a handful or two of greens into almost any savory dish. Especially saucy ones. If you prefer, slice them thinly first, and in the last few minutes of cooking, add them and cover with a lid to steam.
Cauliflower is another vegetable that is easy to sneak in. You can steam it, blend it up with a little veggie stock until smooth, and add it to creamy sauces, or even mashed potatoes. Or you can buy riced cauliflower (it’s cut small to resemble rice) and add it to other veggies when sauteeing, soups, or sauces.
Believe it or not, you can add riced cauliflower to smoothies. You will not even notice a flavor difference. If you’re frightened, start small by adding a tablespoon or two.
Easy Ways to Add More Veggies:
- Wilt greens into your favorite pasta dish just before you serve
- Wilt greens into your favorite soup
- Chopped greens and or vegetables to your morning omelet
- A handful of greens to your smoothie
- Frozen cauliflower to your smoothie (Trust me on this, you won’t taste it!)
- Riced cauliflower and or broccoli to your pasta sauce
- Steamed cauliflower to your mashed potatoes
- Grated zucchini into almost anything you saute
- Bulk up the veggies in your stir fry
- Substitute veggie noodles for pasta in your favorite dish
Try this recipe for pasta primavera from Saveur:
#4 Have Veggies for Breakfast
In many parts of the world, vegetables are a natural part of breakfast. In some Mediterranean countries, for example, they serve fresh sliced cucumbers and tomatoes with their morning meal. Americans, however, do not typically think of vegetables for breakfast. Well, dear reader, you should. If you get some of your servings of vegetables in first thing, you have less to worry about throughout the day.
A few simple ideas for a veggie-loaded breakfast:
- Add sauteed onions, zucchini, and peppers to your morning eggs
- Serve a small salad dressed with a squeeze of orange
- Vegetable quiche
- Grate zucchini and or carrots into your oatmeal
#5 Snack on Vegetables
The next trick I have up my sleeve, for getting more veggies in, is to eat them throughout the day. Choose sliced red peppers and raw broccoli instead of crackers to dip in hummus. The best way to ensure you eat your veggies as snacks is to buy them precut or to prep them when you bring them home.
#6 Make Them Taste Good
It seems to go without saying, yet I will say it, you won’t eat your veggies if they don’t taste good. If you don’t think you like broccoli, for instance, it could be that you’ve only ever had sad, overcooked, mushy broccoli. Have you ever tried roasted broccoli? You’re in for a totally different experience. Try different drizzles and dressings, either homemade or store-bought. Found one that you like? Use it on everything.
#7 Elevate Your Salads
Oftentimes, when people think of eating their veggies, they think of cold, boring salads. This is a travesty because salads, when done the right way, can be delightful.
Simple ways to Spruce up your salads:
- Add textural contrast with roasted nuts, or even toasted breadcrumbs
- Try warms salads
- Add roasted vegetables
- Switch up your dressings
Martha Stewart Teaches You How to Make Salad Dressing:
To conclude, dear reader, I hope you will see the importance of adding more veggies to your diet. As I have shown you, there are countless ways to eat more vegetables.