You probably know the benefits of eating your veggies, but this is often easier said than done. In fact, seven out of ten Americans fail to meet the recommended intake of 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day, which is a concerning statistic. Research shows diets rich in fresh produce help lower your risk for heart disease, obesity, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes. However, it can get monotonous eating the same salad week in and week out, so why not switch things up a bit and get creative in the kitchen?
Here are my top ten tips for how to get more vegetables in your diet.
1. Break your fast. Who says that vegetables can’t be a breakfast item? This week, try amping up your morning meal with some fresh produce. I like to add brussels sprouts to my morning eggs, but you can also add beets to yogurt parfaits and tomatoes to a savory oatmeal.
2. Don’t forget the herbs. Did you know that fresh herbs are a vegetable? Not only do these provide incredible flavor to any dish, but they are also a low-calorie addition to your meal. Need some inspiration? Use basil in a pesto, mash cilantro into a salsa, or add parsley to your favorite soup.
3. Go lighter. If you’re looking for a simple way to increase your veggie intake, try swapping out grains for vegetables (think lettuce buns, cauliflower crusts, and zoodles). Not only will you gain extra nutrients, but you will also experience new flavors and a lighter meal.
4. Get sneaky. Using vegetables as fillers in spaghetti sauces, soups, and burgers not only increases the density, but adds additional flavor and nutrition. If you have picky eaters, incorporating vegetables into some favorite dishes is a great way to disguise the veggie aspect. For example, adding mushrooms to burger patties, zucchini to spaghetti sauce, and sweet potatoes to soup will help increase vegetable intake without sacrificing flavor.
5. Bottoms up. Adding vegetables to a smoothie is an easy (and sometimes sneaky) way to increase your produce intake. Adding spinach (or your favorite leafy green) to your morning smoothie will not only give it additional color, but it will pump up the nutrition and overall flavor.
6. Enjoy the grill. Instead of eating raw vegetables for dinner (not so appealing!), try grilling them for a sweeter flavor. Since summer is right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to bust out the BBQ and experiment with grilling different types of veggies. Personally, kebabs are my go-to dinner anytime the weather gets nice, as this is a quick and easy family-friendly meal that encourages everyone to eat more vegetables.
7. Star of the show. Make vegetables the highlight of your dinner with recipes such as stuffed bell peppers, zucchini boats, or power bowls. When your meal revolves around vegetables, it’s easier to eat more of them simply because the taste and texture differs with each bite.
8. Make your favorites great again. If you’re looking for new, exciting ways to amp up your favorite foods, pile on the vegetables and enjoy the new flavor combinations. If you’re into sandwiches, try adding additional vegetables such as radishes, bell peppers, or cucumbers for an extra crunch. Or, if you’re a pizza lover, you can add a number of raw or grilled vegetables on your favorite pie to increase the nutrition profile.
9. Top protein with veggies. Rather than topping your fish or chicken with a cream sauce, try using sautéed vegetables, like onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, or bell peppers. They’ll add loads of flavor and nutrients, and at the same time “volumize” your meal so you feel fuller on less calories.
10. Indulge your sweet tooth. Disguising greens in chocolate desserts is one of the best (and most sneaky) ways to increase vegetable intake without sacrificing your sweet tooth. Thanks to culinary geniuses, vegetables are being added to brownies, cakes, frosting, and even puddings, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. There’s no need to forsake vegetables when you can have your cake and eat it, too!
What are some ways you like to add vegetables to your diet? I would love to hear!