While there are some foods that you can skip and still meet your daily nutrient requirements, veggies certainly aren’t one of them (you should be aiming for at least 2.5 to 3 cups of veggies per day.) These nutrition powerhouses provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a whole lot of antioxidants and phytonutrients known for being potent disease-fighters. So, if you’re not too keen on veggies, we’ve got some tips for you that will make you a veggie-eater in no time.
Think outside the salad: There are SO many other ways to eat veggies beyond salad or plain/steamed veggie side dishes. For cooler weather, think of vegetable soups (tomato, roasted red pepper, minestrone, vegetable-barley, etc.) as winter’s salad. These soups pack in loads of veggies — anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of veggies per cup of soup. Salsa and marinara sauce also provide veggie servings. Serve tacos with salsa, or mix salsa into plain yogurt as a veggie dip. Add extra roasted (or thawed frozen) veggies to marinara sauce and use them as a pasta or pizza topping, or a lasagna filling.
Give it a whirl: It’s easy to fit fruit into smoothies, but did you know that veggies are just as simple and delicious? The key is to make sure you stay in the same color family with your additions, so the smoothie ends up as a vivid hue rather than a brown goo. Start with a base of 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup nonfat/low fat plain yogurt, 1/2 a banana, and a spoonful of peanut or almond butter, shredded coconut, or chia seeds. A handful of spinach gives a bright green smoothie. A chopped carrot and half a mango yield an orange color. A handful of strawberries and red bell pepper will produce a bright pink color. Other smoothie additions to try: Cooked sweet potato, pineapple, and yellow bell pepper; celery and green pear; kale, green apple, and avocado.
De-bitter: Anyone who’s had crispy olive oil roasted Brussels sprouts or broccoli knows how a cooking method can transform veggies. Compare that to mushy, bitter, boiled Brussels sprouts and it doesn’t even seem like they came from the same plant. Roasting or baking veggies with a little olive oil and herbs/spices, and adding sea salt after cooking, enhances their natural sweetness and makes them more appealing.
Buy ‘em, prep ‘em, and place ‘em: Sometimes the easiest approach is the one we overlook. Each week, during your grocery run, grab an assortment of veggies. What’s on sale, in season, or looks especially intriguing to you is a great place to start. If you see someone else buying veggies, ask them how they prep them. Trust us, you can learn a LOT from your fellow produce shoppers! When you unpack groceries, wash, dry, and slice your veggies and place them in clear containers in the fridge — front and center. This way they’re ready to go, and serve as visual reminders every time you open the fridge. You eat what you have…and what you see.
Add flavor: Hey, how about a plate of steamed broccoli for lunch? No? How about if we put some lemon juice, salt, and olive oil over it? Or toss it with teriyaki sauce? We’re guessing that sounds a bit more appetizing. If you’ve eaten a certain veggie in one form and didn’t care for it, try adding some new flavors. A drizzle of olive oil or butter and citrus juice/zest transforms most veggies, raw or cooked. If you have a certain style of food you love (ie Mexican, Asian, Italian, etc.) then pick up a salt-free seasoning mix with flavors typical of that cuisine and toss your cooked veggies with it. For instance, we love sautéed greens tossed with toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, light soy sauce, and orange!
Do you or someone you know skimp on the veggies? Please post the tips that have worked for you in the comments!