I really do love my vegetables. My husband even told me that if I ate any more vegetables for dinner last night that he was taking me to the hospital. (Exaggerate much, honey?) But I know not everyone loves their veggies as much as me. Despite knowing how beneficial they are, you may struggle with figuring out how to get in the minimum 5 servings of vegetables recommended each day. Maybe you find them boring, or maybe you just don’t like the taste. But I don’t think eating vegetables should be some chore you force yourself to do. Getting enough vegetables can be simple and delicious at the same time…I promise!
Here are a few simple ideas to help you increase your vegetable intake with minimal effort and a whole lot of taste:
- Salads! Salads are a great way to get a variety (and a large amount!) of vegetables in your diet. I know many people find salads boring and unsatisfying, so the key to an exciting salad is the toppings! I love adding roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, some form of protein, nuts/seeds, and whatever other veggies I have on hand. It’s important to include enough protein and healthy fats to ensure that you are getting enough calories to leave you satiated and satisfied. I also typically make my own salad dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Another tip: Buy a rotisserie chicken to use for your protein! That makes it so easy to prep salads for the week. Chop the veggies, pick the chicken and add to greens. Easy and done! Love this guide to making the perfect salad!
- Smoothies! Smoothies used to be about all the fruit, but these days, green smoothies are all the rage. Adding vegetables to your smoothie is a great way to get a heavy dose of nutrient dense vegetables! And I promise, you won’t even be able to taste the vegetables! I love adding frozen kale or spinach to my smoothies, and most recently, I’ve been adding frozen cauliflower. The cauliflower actually gives it a creamier texture and you would never even know it came from a vegetable! I also add frozen beets when I have them, and beets are great in supporting my gallbladder. When making a smoothie however, always make sure to add some form of protein and healthy fat. Otherwise, the sugar from the fruit and lack of protein and fat will spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry a couple hours later. My favorite proteins to add are peanut butter/almond butter or a good quality protein powder. (I use this one!) I typically top my smoothies with raw nuts, coconut, chia seeds and flax seeds for some healthy fat. Avocado is also a great vegetable to blend into your smoothie!
- Easy swaps! Swap out a more processed food with a vegetable. Consider replacing your toast in the morning with homemade breakfast potatoes, or use a lettuce wrap for your burger instead of a regular bun. Ummm…or this? Amazing! I also love using cauliflower rice in the place of regular rice. Or spaghetti squash instead of pasta! There are endless options! I’m not saying carbs are bad here-it’s still important to the carbs your body needs, but I’m just saying there are several easy swaps you can make to increase your daily veggie intake.
- Change up your cooking method! Vegetables don’t have to be boring (i.e raw or steamed)! Grilling is a perfect option for the summer, especially since my husband loves to grill, and I don’t have to do anything! We usually add olive oil and random spices/seasonings. I also love roasting vegetables in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or so, depending on the vegetable. I coat the veggies in coconut oil and sea salt before roasting. Also consider sautéing greens like spinach or kale. Sautéing a whole bag of spinach ends up being like four bites, so you get a lot of nutrients in just a few bites. I love sautéing greens in olive oil, garlic, lemon zest/juice and sea salt.
- Add healthy fats to your vegetables. Contrary to popular belief, eating plain steamed vegetables is actually not that healthy. Yes, you will get some fiber eating that way, but in order for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins of A, D, E and K, you must also eat fat. Grass-fed butter and coconut oil are delicious fats to add to your vegetables. Not only will they taste a heck of a lot better, but your body will be able to utilize those fat-soluble vitamins to your benefit.
I encourage you this week to focus on increasing your vegetable intake. Start slowing by adding in one more serving each day-increasing fiber too quickly can cause digestive distress. Over time, your body will adjust and use all those healthy nutrients to keep you healthy! Start small and try and idea above that peaks your interest. Let me know how it goes!