Want to see a day packed with lightning-fast vegetables? Read on!
This month, I’ll show you how to eat 2 pounds of delicious vegetables in 1 day—with no veggie taking more than 5 minutes of hands-on time to prepare. I’ve also included 3 easy tips for eating more vegetables with less effort.
Because my life is really busy right now—and I’m guessing yours is too.
For starters, I’m researching, developing recipes, and writing like crazy. I’m also getting Jeff trained up in food photography, because—if I’m lucky—next year, I’ll be balancing Veggie Quest with a more-than-full-time dietetic internship. If not, I’ll have to go through applications all over again.
Speaking of which, the internship application process itself is time-consuming, with multiple personal statements and lots of supplemental material to write. Oh, and a professional portfolio website to design and populate. Woo! And that’s all on top of life as usual. (That 42-calorie hot chocolate I find so soothing? I’ve been drinking a lot of it lately.)
Anyhow, I know being busy is a blessing. (I keep telling myself this.) However, so is good health. So I’m doing my best to make healthy meals fast—and keep the vegetables coming. Read on to see how I did!
Breakfast: Carrot cake oatmeal with cantaloupe, berries, and spring mix
- heaping ½ cup grated carrot, packed (3 oz)
- 1 handful baby spinach (1 oz)
Easy veggie tip: Any vegetable you can bake into a muffin (pumpkin, carrot, zucchini, sweet potato) tastes great stirred into oatmeal.
I used this tip to make some experimental—and very tasty—carrot cake oatmeal. In fact, with a few more tweaks, the recipe will be ready for the big time. Okay, well, for Veggie Quest. 🙂 Stay tuned! Just be sure to use pre-washed and prepared veggies (like bagged grated carrots) if time is of the essence.
I also had my daily breakfast fruit and greens:
I know the greens part sounds weird, but baby spinach complements fruit beautifully, slowing the absorption of sugar and powering you up with extra nutrients. And even though it’s winter, I splurged on melon and berries. Cause sometimes you have to treat yo self! Better with berries than a donut, right?
Lunch: Asian salad with stuffed Japanese sweet potato
- 2 handfuls spring mix (2 oz)
- 1 c snow peas (2 oz)
- 1½ c sliced cucumber (4 oz)
- ⅓ c grated carrot, packed (2 oz)
- Japanese (white flesh) sweet potato (11 oz)
For lunch, I had an Asian green salad drizzled with teriyaki glaze and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. To save time, I gave my sweet potato the exact same treatment. Luckily, they both turned out tasty! The only catch? The teriyaki sauce had chili pepper flakes in it. (What the heck?!) As a major wimp when it comes to spice, I wasn’t amused.
Anyhow, the salad took less than 5 minutes to throw together, because the carrots were already grated, so all I had to do was slice the cucumber. And by me, I mean hubby Jeff, who’s been seriously pitching in because I think I’m coming down with a cold. (Thanks Jeff!)
Technically the stuffed potato took more than 5 minutes, because it needed 8 minutes in the microwave. But the actual prep time was 2 minutes flat: wash, stab a few times, wrap in a wet paper towel, and nuke. Topping with canned beans, fresh green onions, and a squeeze of sauce was a snap. (To try next time: peanut sauce!)
Easy veggie tip: To chop fresh green onions without dirtying up a cutting board, just snip with kitchen shears.
For once, I didn’t have any vegetable snacks. Instead, I had an ounce of cashews, a cup of almond milk hot chocolate, an orange, an apple, and yet more cantaloupe. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures, because when it’s snack time, it’s snack time. (I’m no fun when I’m hangry.)
Dinner: Bruschetta pizza, sautéed spinach, and salad with tahini dressing
- 2 handfuls spring mix (2 oz)
- 1 handful grape tomatoes (3 oz)
- 1½ c sliced cucumber (4 oz)
- ½ c tomato sauce (4 oz)
- 1 cup sautéed spinach (6 oz)
Dinner was all about speed and convenience—especially since I didn’t have to make it (Jeff = rockstar). Even so, though, nothing required him to do more than 5 minutes of prep.
Salad was spring mix, cucumbers, tomatoes, and my all-time favorite oil-free tahini dressing. (We pretty much always keep a jar in the fridge.)
Another favorite at our house is no-cheese bruschetta pizza, so it was only a matter of time before we made it for a 2-pounds post. While the pre-fab crust contains some refined flour—it’s a breeze to make and an easy way to work in more veggies. We typically hit a couple of frozen gluten-free SmartFlour crusts with about ½ cup of pizza sauce each. Then we each add whatever toppings we feel like. My pizza was spinach (which Jeff sauteed in less than 5 minutes) and kalamata olives. Simple, yet tasty.
Easy veggie tip: Topping a pizza with extra sauce (lycopene-rich tomato goodness) and lots of vegetables is a deliciously easy way to get your 5+ a day.
The final tally
So, did I make it? You bet. I actually ate nearly 3 pounds of veggies (!), with less than 5 minutes of prep time per veggie dish.
And since most of each meal was vegetables, that means about 30 minutes of hands-on food prep time for the entire day! Of course, if you’re cooking for more people, it’ll take a little longer—but not much. Plus, just look at the amazing nutrition facts:
What I’m most proud of? I got these stats with a day of “fast food.” Honestly, it takes longer to head over to the drive-thru than to make the food in this post. Yes, we used some convenience foods, so I got more sodium than I’d like. But everything else was awesome: plenty of plant-based protein (more than I need, actually), along with lots of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. All without a multivitamin. Let’s hear it for veggies!
Of course, if you’re not used to eating lots of vegetables, it’s best to increase intake gradually to keep your insides happy, and if you have a health condition, it’s good to check with your doctor or dietitian before making big dietary changes. That said, just working in just one extra serving of veggies a day is good for most people. So if 2 pounds of vegetables isn’t your thing, know that every little bit helps.
Hope this has given you ideas for working more veggies into even the busiest day!