Unless you dream of greens, it can be tough to eat enough vegetables every day. You know they’re good for you: Veggies are packed with essential nutrients that support your entire body, plus fiber to support regular digestion. The problem is vegetables aren’t easy. They have to be cleaned, prepped and usually cooked, so getting them into your diet requires some planning. Yes planning is important (sarcastic sigh).
If you’re wondering how to eat more vegetables, I’ve got you covered. Here are 5 tips to become a vegetable connoisseur and get those greens(and other colors).
1. COOK WHAT YOU ACTUALLY LIKE
So, how do you eat more vegetables if you don’t like them? If you grew up eating boiled brussels sprouts and raw veggie trays, you might not know that vegetables can and should taste delicious. That is a shame since veggies should not only be delicious they should be beautiful.
When roasted or baked, broccoli and sweet potatoes release their natural sweetness. When you saute zucchini in ghee or grass fed butter, it imparts a deliciously buttery flavor. The texture of properly steamed carrots is tender, not mushy and that goes for all veggies. Lightly cooking them so that they still have some crispness and texture keeps them delicious and nutritious.
Recognize that different cooking methods will yield different flavors and textures. Experiment in the kitchen and find what you actually enjoy. For instance, you might not like the texture of steamed butternut squash, but when it’s roasted and blended with coconut milk, ghee and chicken stock, it becomes a velvety roasted butternut squash soup. If you're not a big fan of cauliflower, use it as a base and then season the dish with Thai spices or Italian herbs. It's a chameleon veggie so it will take on whatever flavor you impart on it. The takeaway is to get creative and don't limit your spices and flavorings, after all they are what give us life.
2. OUT OF SITE, IS OUT OF MIND
You aren’t going to eat a container of organic spinach if it sits in the back of your crisper all week. Keep your vegetables at eye-level in your fridge so you know what needs to be cooked. Also get out of your "comfort zone" when it comes to veggies. Challenge yourself to try a different veggie every week for a month and learn how to use it in different dishes. Expand your veggie palate.
The second part of this is making a veggie part of every meal. That can mean greens in your eggs in the morning or a handful of spinach in your smoothie. Snacking on low calorie, high nutrient veggies like cucumbers, peppers or carrots and a little protein like jerky when you need it. The point is if you don't have veggies available you won't know to eat them and if they aren't visible when you are prepping foods and making meals, you won't eat them.
3. CLEAN, PREP, AND COOK YOUR VEGETABLES AHEAD OF TIME
You guessed it, preparation is key. Cleaning, prepping and cooking your produce at the beginning of the week will make it available and ready to go. That way, all you have to do is grab and go, and you already have a base or side for meals. Here are some ideas:
Slice carrots, cucumbers and bell peppers into matchsticks for quick snacks.
Fill a couple of baking sheets with chopped up and seasoned root veggies like sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and onions so you can add them to any meal.
Roast a batch of hardy vegetables, like broccoli, beets and brussels sprouts, so you always have a serving of flavorful greens handy.
Clean and chop lettuce to throw into salads OR use pre-washed, organic salads that are ready to go.
Use a spiralizer to turn zucchini and sweet potatoes into veggie noodles, then make exciting dinners full of flavor like thai veggie noodles or traditional pasta with veggie noodles.
Prep a flavorful dip for your veggie sticks like Guacamole or olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Dedicating 30-45 minutes of prep time once a week will set you up for veggies all week and in every meal. Don't make the mistake of trying to cut up and prep veggies every time you cook. It will double your meal prep time and squash (pun intended) your veggie enthusiasm.
4. SWAP AND ADD VEGETABLES IN YOUR FAVORITE MEALS
You might have heard of people wrapping their burgers in lettuce and using cauliflower to make everything from pizza crust to oatmeal. This isn’t just a lower-carb way to eat — it’s a great tip to boost your veggie intake throughout the day. Here are a few others:
Use lettuce cups instead of tortillas.
Add diced bell peppers and onions to your morning scramble.
Neutral-flavored vegetables like cauliflower can bulk up your favorite meals or take the place of high carb foods like rice.
Cauliflower can be used to make pizza crust or bread.
Spiralizing carrots, sweet potatoes or zucchini makes them cook faster and can be substituted for a number of dishes.
Don't limit your imagination. Try different swaps and add veggies to your traditional dishes. Bulking up your regular stir-fry with two new veggies will not only expand your veggie repertoire, it will also give you more food which equals more leftovers for subsequent meals.
5. USE FROZEN VEGETABLES
This is my favorite time saver and can really boost your veggie intake. It’s time to embrace the convenience of frozen vegetables. Frozen vegetables make it easy to have fresh, organic produce on-hand at any time. They’re often picked at their peak and frozen right at the farm, so they’re just as delicious and nutrient-dense as their fresh counterparts — but they last way longer.
Stock up on your favorite frozen vegetables (I like Costco’s options because they are organic too) and use them just like you would any other vegetable.
Steam frozen broccoli until it becomes tender and bright green.
Bake frozen cauliflower florets on a sheet pan until they’re cooked to your liking.
Bake frozen veggies with cut up chicken for baking sheet fajitas.
The best part? You can cook frozen vegetables without having to let them thaw. They are always available and you can season them to whatever your dish calls for. Don’t just heat up a bag of veggies! Season them, flavor them and make them delicious. It's convenient, cost effective, nutritious, and Delicious.
Now get out there and eat your veggies!!!