We all know that we should be eating more vegetables and fewer bacon cheeseburgers. In fact, we’re supposed to consume at least 5 servings of vegetables every day, thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and vitamins. But what if you don’t like the taste of broccoli or cauliflower? Many of us struggle to get in our daily servings of the green stuff. But it can be done, and your health will thank you. Here are 5 ways to introduce more veggies into your diet and lifestyle.
1. Enjoy a Green Smoothie
Smoothies are extremely popular right now. They’re fast and simple to make, and can be easily customized to fit your tastes and the ingredients you have on hand. But the best part of making a smoothie is that you can add veggies to them and you won’t even notice that you’re consuming them because their taste will be masked by the other, sweeter components. Start with 1 cup of the milk of your choice (almond, soy or cow’s milk), add 1 banana, add 1 cup of greens (kale, spinach, or mixed greens), and add 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup. You can enjoy a green smoothie for breakfast or as an afternoon snack at work, and you’ll be full of energy. This is great for those of us who don’t exactly love eating kale, despite its popular status in the food world - instead of forcing ourselves to eat 1 cup of steamed kale, we’re simply drinking it in the form of a delicious smoothie. Spinach has only 7 calories per cup, along with iron and several vitamins, so it’s also a good choice.
2. Sneak Into Baked Goods
A homemade banana muffin sounds like a pretty good afternoon snack, but it’s not exactly packed with nutrition - besides the banana, of course. Try adding some grated zucchini into the batter for a vegetable boost. Zucchini can actually decrease cholesterol and is thought to help with risk of heart disease and cancer. This green veggie is another star ingredient for your usual brownie recipe - the chocolate will mask the taste and you won’t even know it’s there. You can also bake sweet potato muffins and reap the benefits: sweet potatoes contain lots of vitamin A. If you replace the white flour and butter with whole-wheat flour and coconut oil, these two muffins are great afternoon snack ideas to power you through the rest of your busy day, and won’t give you the same sugar rush as a store-bought cookie or bag of vending machine potato chips. And best of all, you’ll be consuming more veggies.
3. Add a Veggie to Every Meal and Snack
Change is always overwhelming, and if you’re not used to eating that many vegetables you won’t be too excited about eating stir-fry for dinner every evening. However, if you start small and make tiny changes by adding some vegetables to each meal and snack, you won’t even notice that you’re increasing your intake. At breakfast, scramble some eggs with some mushrooms and kale. Mid-morning, try some carrots and hummus. For lunch, add a side salad to your usual meal or fold some peppers into your tuna sandwich. Any raw veggie makes a great afternoon snack along with some cheese or nuts for a protein boost. Dinner might be the easiest way to eat more of these vitamin-packed, nutrient-rich foods. Make a green pepper and mushroom pizza, put carrots into your usual spaghetti sauce, or roast some eggplant to enjoy with your fish or chicken.
4. Choose a New Veggie Each Week
It’s easy to get into a rut and eat the same foods day in, day out. Choose a new vegetable to try each week and work it into a few meals. Think outside the box. Kale is popular, so try some Swiss chard. Chard has Vitamins K, A and C. Most importantly, eating chard is thought to be good for regulating your blood sugar. Steamed turnip greens are another smart choice and contain lots of calcium.
5. Get Creative
Without creativity in the kitchen, it’s hard to get excited about what you’re eating. Preparing vegetables without giving any thought to making them interesting will leave you bored and reaching for the take-out menus. Find some vegan food blogs or cookbooks for inspiration and try some new recipes. You won’t miss the cheese, but will learn to love butternut squash in this vegan mac and cheese recipe and will want more of these beets flavored with ginger, citrus and maple.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore full of plain salads and dull steamed spinach. Since eating vegetables is a big part of living a healthy lifestyle, it’s a good idea to try to consume some more every day. Follow these 5 easy ways to eat more veggies and you will be healthier and happier. From sneaking zucchini into muffin batter, to enjoying a green smoothie for an afternoon snack to discovering new vegan recipes to make for dinner, you will be inspired by the world of plants.