Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to include a variety of vegetables in meal planning. There are many health benefits of eating vegetables, including reducing the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and certain cancers, such as mouth, stomach, and colon cancer.
Here are some tips to help you eat more vegetables each day…
1. Make veggie noodles
I think this is a super idea. You’ll need a mandolin slicer or a spiral slicer to create your vegetable noodles; zucchini and eggplant are good vegetable choices.
Or, if you want to try spaghetti squash, boil or bake until tender, then pull a fork through the squash to tear out spaghetti-like shreds.
2. Drink a smoothie
Smoothies are a brilliant option, especially when you’re lacking in time.
Blend roughly 60% fruit, 40% green leafy vegetables, then add water, and voila! you’ve got yourself a healthy, great tasting snack, which you can enjoy on-the-go.
3. Make some soup
Try making chunky vegetable soup with wholegrain pasta added, or put your favorite vegetables into a blender with some spices, cayenne pepper or curry powder for something a little different.
If you’re trying to cut down your calorie intake, eating soup (or salad) before your main meal is a really effective way to do this.
4. Eat with the seasons
It’s so easy to pick the same vegetables over and over again, and therefore limit your diet and your taste buds.
Instead find out what’s in season and go for that instead.
Don’t be put off if you’re unsure how to cook a particular veg. If you’re like most people, you’ll have a sack of unused cookbooks taking up room on your bookshelf. So, dust them off, and take your taste buds to another level!
5. Get marinating
We normally associate marinating with meats, but vegetables also taste great with this extra bit of care.
Mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, and string beans take to marinating particularly well.
A tasty choice for marinating is a mix of olive oil, crushed garlic, grated fresh ginger and some soy sauce.
6. Make a veggie sauce
If you usually buy readymade pasta sauce, instead blend a selection of your favorite fresh vegetables to make a healthier option.
7. Swap pasta and rice for sweet potato
I find potatoes to be an extremely comforting food. And, if you’re after a little extra nutritional boost, sweet potatoes are a good choice (they are slightly more nutritious than white potatoes).
When you’re stuck for time, pop them in the microwave to cook through, and then crisp the skins in a hot oven for a few minutes.
8. Munch on raw vegetables
This is my favorite way to eat vegetables now. When my hubby was young he would only eat vegetables raw, and still prefers them this way. As a result, this is how we eat them most of the time in our house.
I usually dip my raw veggies into hummus; almond or peanut butter is also good choices. Celery, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, and carrots are some of my favorites.
9. Add veggies to your grains
I like to add broad beans to my rice. All you need are a couple of handfuls of frozen beans, then add them to the water as you cook the rice.
Fresh herbs such as coriander or dill added at the end of cooking finish this dish really well.
You could do this with any grain (quinoa, brown rice, barley), and any vegetable would work, so be creative.
10. Wrap them up
Whether as an entree or main dish, wraps and veggies make a delicious option.
You could choose wholegrain tortilla wraps, or a cabbage or lettuce leaf, then simply heap in the vegetables (raw or cooked), roll up and enjoy!
For extra flavour, top with some natural and salsa.
11. Eat vegetables at each meal
To make sure you are meeting your veggie quote each day, have them at each meal, not just as a side dish.
So, for breakfast perhaps mushrooms and tomatoes with wholegrain bread. At lunch a salad wrap, or vegetable soup. And, for dinner at least two sides of vegetables. Don’t forget snacks, they can also be veggie rich.
With a little thought and effort, vegetables can take center-plate in your diet. Your
body will thank you for it later.
Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter