8 Tips For Eating More Vegetables Every Day
For most people, eating more vegetables every day is a habit that provides health benefits. From disease prevention to providing nutrients essential for the health and maintenance of our bodies, eating more vegetables can help us feel better and live longer lives. Here are a few tips for getting more vegetables into every day routines.
1. Develop a habit for getting vegetables into your house on a regular basis
Join a local CSA, order vegetables for delivery, or commit to shopping weekly at the local farmers market. Farm-direct vegetables are fresher, taste better, and are denser in rich phyto-nutrients and anti-oxidants (you know the good stuff). It is no fun to watch food go bad, so making sure vegetables are always on hand are the first step in eating more vegetables!
2. Do not use the produce drawer
The produce drawer in the refrigerator is a wonderful way to hide vegetables in a warm, cozy, and moist place, where they more quickly meet their demise. Instead, place your vegetables on a shelf at eye level in the refrigerator, so they are easily seen every time the fridge is opened. A side note: if you have kids, put a few veggies at kiddo eye level too (carrot sticks in a cup with water are great for this!), as there is more chance to grab this instead of a less healthy snack.
3. Prep vegetables ahead of time
Upon receiving or returning home with vegetables, prepare them in advance. Wash and blanch the greens, cut up the carrots, peel and cube the winter squash. This way the
work joy of prep will not stand in your way on a busy weeknight. Even better, plan a weekly menu, including some completed meals, so that only re-heating is necessary.
4. Add vegetables to your favorite foods
Love Mac n’ Cheese? Great! Add some peas in next time. Is rice a go-to dish? Try a spinach pilaf recipe. Adding a small amount of vegetables to your favorite dishes is a great way to “sneak” them in, while surrounded by favorite flavors.
5. Eat veggies for breakfast
I love veggies for breakfast. A frittata is a terrific way to join veggies with a familiar breakfast food, eggs! Prepping vegetables in advance comes in really handy for breakfast time. It is easy to throw blanched spinach into eggs while whisking them in a bowl. Breakfast fried rice is also a favorite around here. Toss cold leftover rice (with a little oil) into a hot skillet with a few broccoli florets, chopped carrots, and an egg, and a delicious and fulfilling breakfast is ready in no time.
6. Substitute vegetables in place of empty carbs
While eating carbs is not inherently an evil act, many of the carbs available for quick snacking ARE devoid of any nutritional value, offering empty calories, and not many benefits for our body. If you eat a lot of hummus or other dips, try sliced red bell pepper, carrot sticks, or cucumber wedges instead for dipping. For taco night, try wraps of baby lettuce leaves or collard greens for something new and more nutrient dense.
7. Frozen vegetables are your friend
I always keep two types of frozen veggies on hand for a nutritional boost for quick meals. Making pasta again? Throw in a handful of frozen peas or spinach for a vitamin boost. Frozen vegetables tend to contain almost as many nutrients as their fresh counterparts, so feel no shame in stocking up on frozen veggies to have on hand when there are no fresh veggies in sight.
8. Name vegetable dishes with decadent language
Wait, what? Experience has shown me that our society as a whole is haunted by memories of poorly prepared vegetables. We are expected to gobble up mushy beets, smelly overcooked Brussels sprouts, and bitter, tasteless greens, because it is “good for us.” Vegetables need to taste good AND, as this university study found, sound good so we want to eat them. “Sizzlin’ Sweet Green Beans with Crispy Shallots” sounds much better than plain ol’ “green beans”, doesn’t it?
A Note on Smoothies
While there are smarter ways to consume vegetables in liquid form, I believe we have those hard white things in our mouth for a reason, and CHEWING food is one of my favorite pastimes. But seriously, chewing also serves a physiological purpose, namely helping our bodies to create saliva, which contains digestive enzymes, stomach acid, and other factors necessary for us to effectively extract the nutritive components of food, including smoothies. Eating whole foods also helps us to consume less calories overall, and I personally enjoy the act of eating and sharing food too much to gulp down a brownish greenish colored drink in the name of health. However, if smoothies are your thing, be sure to read the linked article above to be sure you are making them in a way that is healthful.