Eat Your Veggies: 5 Tricks to get More Vegetables in Your Diet
Plant-based eating is just that…eating plants as the base, or foundation, of your meals. While some may choose to eat exclusively plants, others enjoy abundant plant foods with occasional meat, dairy, eggs, or other animal products.
Whether or not you’re eating exclusively plants, plant-rich diets are associated with lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. Eating plants is also much better for the planet than meat-heavy diets.
Despite the benefits of eating plants, only 1 in 10 Americans is getting the recommended daily amount of vegetables their diet. Want to eat more veggies each day but aren’t really sure how, or what to do with them? Here are five simple tips:
1) Make them easily accessible
Raw veggies with a healthy dip (hummus or guacamole are great choices) make a great snack, but who has time to wash and prep veggies several times a day? Wash, prep, and cut up raw fresh vegetables about twice a week and store them in an airtight bin in the refrigerator. Bring the bin out for snack time and at dinner when you don’t have time to prepare a salad or cooked vegetables, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly veggies disappear. Try to include a wide variety of colors and different vegetables to keep it interesting.
2) Put them in smoothies
A potential downside of smoothies is that in beverage form it is easy to take in more food (and calories) than your body needs, but you can use this concept to your advantage by packing in lots of vegetables into a single serving of smoothie. Try a Triple Berry smoothie with 1-2 servings of vegetables, or a Super Green smoothie with 3+ servings of vegetables per glass. These smoothies are great for a quick breakfast or an after-workout snack.
3) Add them to entrées that are usually meat-based
- Most dishes that traditionally contain meat can be remade to add in more plants instead of (or in addition to) meat.
- Add shredded carrots and cooked wheat berries to chili.
- Layer shredded zucchini, diced cauliflower, spinach, or other vegetables into lasagna.
- Use seasoned cooked lentils to replace or stretch ground beef in sloppy joes or tacos.
- In place of spaghetti and Bolognese sauce, try spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash topped with chunky roasted vegetable marinara, or if you don’t like chunky sauce, puree roasted vegetables into marinara for a smooth texture.
- Wilt spinach or other leafy greens into soups and stews.
4) Add them to baked goods
In heartier baked goods such as quick breads and muffins, pureed zucchini, pumpkin or carrot add flavor and nutrition, and mashed ripe avocado can be used in place of oil. The green hue of the avocado is hidden well in chocolate- or cacao-based recipes, or can be offset by adding pureed carrot as well: when mixed together, the green avocado and orange carrots result in a golden-brown color, such as in zucchini chocolate chunk bites.
5) Fill Half your Plate with Veggies at Each Meal
Sometimes the easiest way to get enough veggies is to simply load up your plate with a big salad. Or you may prefer roasted veggies with garlic and pinch of sea salt, or sautéed vegetables with fresh lemon squeezed over them. Any way you prepare them, loading up half your plate with veggies at each meal ensures that you won’t fill up on other foods before you’ve gotten your daily servings of veggies in.
Almost everyone can benefit from eating more vegetables. Once you are in the habit of eating lots of veggies each day, you may even find yourself craving your daily veggies!