Today’s big idea is that we all know that vegetables are good for us, but few of us are eating as many as we probably ought to be. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of Americans are not eating the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. And a survey commissioned by the food brand. Dr. Praeger’s found that a quarter of Americans have never had a vegetable! So let’s talk about how you can eat more vegetables in an easy and tasty way.
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To be clear, when I’m talking about how to eat more vegetables, I’m talking specifically about three specific types: Greens, colorful vegetables, and cruciferous vegetables. I’m not talking about corn–which is technically a grain–and potatoes, which is a vegetable but not one we typically eat plenty of.
Greens, cruciferous vegetables, and colorful vegetables are incredibly good for you. Even if you don’t make it to the recommended 2-3 cups per day–although it IS doable and the tips I’m sharing today can help–any amount more of these that you start to eat regularly will have a big impact in terms of delivering crucial nutrients to your body.
Why these particular types of vegetables?
Well, greens are rich in vitamins and particularly minerals, like magnesium and calcium. They are like multi-vitamins in food form. Examples of greens include spinach, Swiss chard, and kale.
Cruciferous vegetables have sulfur which is has powerful, well-documented anti-cancer properties and is tremendously helpful with detoxification. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Colorful vegetables, like peppers, zucchini, sweet potatoes, snap peas, and carrots, are high in antioxidants which help your body repair from daily wear and tear and also from environmental toxins.
And all of these three types of vegetables are high in fiber, which is great for your digestion, your population of friendly gut bacteria, and for keeping you full, despite the fact that most vegetables are low in calories.
But I think we’ve all had the experience of buying vegetables that you then just don’t eat, and they slowly turn into a science experiment in your crisper drawer. So I’ll share 7 strategies to eat more vegetables that are easy and effective.
7 ways to eat more vegetables
1. Use frozen
Frozen vegetables are great in stirfries and soups and you can buy them on sale and they wait patiently for you until you are ready–no wilting, no getting slimy. Plus, they are often cheaper than fresh, and they still have a ton of nutrition in them. You don’t have to turn into a farmer’s market shopper to eat more vegetables!
2. Add veggies to smoothies
I am a huge fan of smoothies–you can put fresh or frozen fruit, some protein powder, any powdered supplement like vitamin C or probiotics, and you can also put vegetables in them and they will still taste great! Beets, spinach, avocados, and kale are all great with smoothies. I find they all go really well with blueberries and bananas.
3. Chopped salads
You know the trend of the salad lunch place that kind of works like Subway sandwiches, you go down the line and tell them all the things you want in your salad and then they chop it up and dress it for you and it’s delicious? Well, you can do that at home. My mom, who I think would freely admit really can’t stand cooking has been making a chopped salad out of tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, red onions, olives and feta cheese and keeping it in a container in the fridge, then when she’s hungry she makes a bowlful and dresses it right before eating.
She love the Olive Garden Italian dressing, but you can use your favorite. OR, really, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastes really great. With this salad, you only have to chop once and you’ve got vegetables for days. I’ve put cauliflower and spinach and anything else I had in the produce drawer that needed to be eaten soon and they all worked great.
4. Have vegetables with your breakfast
If you’re making an egg, throw a cup of spinach in there, it will cook down to almost nothing, and you’ll be well on your way to meeting your 2-3 daily quota of vegetable servings.
5. Roast them
Especially now that it’s fall–brussel sprouts, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli are all delicious drizzled in a little evoo salted and peppers and roasted. I’m pretty sure I could eat an entire head of cauliflower once it’s been roasted. And if you don’t eat it all in one sitting, you can serve the leftovers again as a side dish at another meal, or add those to your scrambled eggs the next morning.
6. Dip them
Dips are magical, whether you are a kid or a grown up. Having a good dip on hand will make it much more tempting to snack on vegetables instead of chips. Could be hummus or ranch dressing or or something you buy in the fancy cheese section–our local store makes things dill dip, olive tapenade, and white bean dip. One container covers a lot of snacks.
7. And finally, if you don’t like chopping, try getting baby vegetables
Little carrots and sweet peppers are super snackable. And baby greens, like arugula, kale, and spinach have a mellower flavor and make a great salad.
Daily Tiny Assignment
Your tiny assignment is to choose TWO of these 7 ways to eat more vegetables that you’ll try out this week. Maybe you’ll get some baby vegetables and a dip to dip them in, boom, that’s 2! Or maybe you’ll try roasting some cauliflower and throwing in a big handful of spinach into a smoothie or with your scrambled eggs. Just think about and write your two ways down so you don’t forget. (Because you will forget.)
Here they are again: buy frozen and use them in soups or stir fries; add them to smoothies, chop them up in one big veggie salad with your favorite dressing, have vegetables with your breakfast, roast them, buy the baby version, or get a dip that just begs you to dip some fresh veggies in.
Tune in tomorrow when I’m sharing 3 cookie strategies that have saved me weeks of time in the kitchen over the years.