Most of us don’t get enough vegetables. Research has shown that 90% of Americans don’t get the recommended servings per day. Vegetables are a great source of healthy nutrients like fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin A. And, when you’re eating more high-fiber vegetables, you have less room for the high-calorie less healthy options.
You may think you don’t like vegetables, but maybe you just haven’t tried the right recipe. Broccoli may taste boring steamed, but roasted and topped with parmesan cheese gives it a whole new flavor (Parmesan Balsamic Broccoli). Here are seven more ways to veg out.
Add vegetables to breakfast.
You might be surprised by how many breakfast dishes are even better with vegetables. Think of omelets, frittatas, even toast with spinach and an egg (Egg in a Hole with Spinach). Throw a handful of spinach in your smoothie. It will turn your smoothie green, but has a very mild flavor. You can also add kale to your smoothie. Kale has a stronger flavor, so you might pair it with pineapple to mellow it (Kale Pineapple Smoothie). You can also freeze the kale first to tone down the flavor. The nutrients you get are a plus for your health, but studies have shown that eating produce in the morning can also help you maintain a healthy weight. Add minced broccoli to scrambled eggs. This veggie addition doesn’t change the texture of the eggs. Plus, it squeezes in an entire serving (at least) of green veggies.
Add Extra Vegetables to Your Recipe
When spaghetti and meatballs is on the menu, toss some extra veggies (like spinach and mushrooms) into the dish. They’ll give you a tastier and more nutritional boost than the traditional side salad. Most recipes work just as well with an extra handful of vegetables. You might top pizza with broccoli florets or fresh microgreens. Pasta sauce goes well with just about any roasted vegetable. Chopped zucchini or carrots go well with rice pilaf. Hide your veggies by shredding zucchini, broccoli, squash or carrots and adding them to your pasta sauce. Quick breads made with shredded zucchini, pumpkin or squash puree are a sweet way to sneak in more vegetables. Or, you might add steamed cauliflower to your mashed potatoes. And don’t forget to double the veggies in your favorite soup or make this veggie filled Southwestern Vegetable and Chicken Soup. Have a hankering for a grilled cheese? Melted cheese between two slices of bread is pretty lacking in nutrition. To bump it up a notch, add in a few layers of veggies. Spinach, tomato, and onion make it a powerhouse of nutrition. Try this Grown Up Grilled Cheese Recipe.
Snack on vegetables.
Your snacks should help you fill up in between meals so you don’t feel like you’re starving at dinner. They can also help you fill your vegetable quota. Try carrots or cucumbers dipped in hummus, celery with peanut butter or a small cup of vegetable soup. If you don’t like kale in your salad, try it as chips (Kale Chip Recipe). If you groaned when you saw the word “kale,” did you know you can do the same with beets, turnips, parsnips and radishes? You will need to slice thin and bake these root vegetables about twice as long. Great when you need a crunchy, salty snack.
Turn vegetables into noodles.
Flip pasta night on its head and make noodles out of vegetables with a spiralizer. Use sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, turnips or beets to replace pasta and you’ll be getting loads of nutrients for not a lot of calories. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler to create long “noodles” with your vegetables. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for Zucchini Noodles.
Put your vegetables on the top shelf of the fridge
Beautiful heads of cauliflower and broccoli, crisp sugar snap peas, colorful baby carrots shouldn’t just get pushed to the back of the fridge or stuck out of sight in a drawer. Clean and cut them right when you get home and store them in see-through containers on the top shelf of your fridge where you’ll see them and remember them. Crisper drawers work by providing the right humidity for your produce. But, if we lose things in there, they just end up as liquified goo later.
Eat a salad at every meal
Buy bags of pre-washed greens and arugula for easy, fast salads. Keep a jar of your favorite homemade salad dressing in the fridge (here are a few to try – Raspberry Balsamic, Homemade Ranch Dressing, Keep flavorful mix-in’s on hand, like cranberries, pre-shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, canned mandarin oranges, and olives. Make it easy to have a delicious salad.
Don’t forget frozen vegetables!
We sometimes idealize that bunch of fresh, leafy greens straight from the farm, but don’t overlook the frozen veggie. They are often frozen right at the farm, picked at their peak for maximum nutrition. And they are always work well in soups, scrambles and pasta. You can dump a whole bag of spinach in your soup recipe. Best part, they are always on-hand and don’t go bad in the crisper drawer.
Let’s all go veg out!
Lisa Lewis is the author of Healthy Happy Cooking. Her cooking skills have been a part of First Place for Health wellness weeks and other events for many years. She provided recipes for 17 of the First Place for Health Bible studies and is a contributing author in Better Together and Healthy Holiday Living . She partners with community networks, including the Real Food Project, to provide free healthy cooking classes. You can find her cookbook, Healthy Happy Cooking in the FP4H store.