Mom always told you to eat your vegetables—and she was right. More and more research indicates that veggies are stellar for your health, helping to keep your heart healthy,a your eyes young,b and your mind sharp.c
Yet even though I know how nutritious they are—and even though I have a blog devoted to vegetables!—I still find them slipping from my diet from time to time. So here are seven of my favorite ways to work in more vegetables—effortlessly.
1. Make a veggie entrée
This is hands-down the easiest way to amp up your vegetable consumption. But I’m not talking about just tossing together a salad here—because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really hungry, a salad just won’t cut it. No, I’m thinking of hearty vegetable main dishes that will stick to your ribs (but not your waistline). Some tasty ideas:
- Savory vegetable chili loaded with onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms
- Stir-fried snow peas, carrots, and pineapple tossed with fresh ginger, served over brown rice
- Indian cauliflower and peas spiced with turmeric and cumin, wrapped up in a roti or tortilla
Whatever you cook up, once dinner is over you’ll have worked in an extra 2–4 servings of veggies without blinking an eye. Nice work!
2. Stir baby spinach into soup
Whether you’re lovingly crafting a slow-food minestrone or nuking soup from a can, try adding baby spinach during the last minute or two of cooking. The spinach will wilt down quickly, turn a gorgeous emerald green, and complement nearly any flavor profile. Extra bonus: The magnesium in spinach could even help lower blood pressure.d Win!
3.Swap sticks for chips
When it comes to snacking, I’m all about dips, whether bean dip, cashew cheese, or guacamole. But corn chips and crackers—even if they’re oil free—are no match for vegetables when it comes to nutrition, flavor, and the almighty crunch. But no need to settle for ho-hum veggie dippers. Try changing things up with jicama sticks, sugar snap peas, green beans (yep, you can eat ’em raw), or kohlrabi chips. Deliciously different.
4. Bake with zucchini instead of oil
I know this sounds a little crazy—and I have to confess, I haven’t tried it yet—but according to a reader tip from Benita over at MoneySavingMom.com, puréed cooked zucchini works beautifully in place of oil in baked goods. (Instructions for making purée here.) Benita peels the zucchini first, so green muffins shouldn’t be an issue. What a great way to ditch the oil and eat more veg!
|Courtesy of Simon Speed via Wikimedia Commons|
5. Wrap it up
Veggies make great wrappers for all things roll-up. Try filling iceberg lettuce leaves with your favorite bean or quinoa salad, making homemade sushi with nori wrappers (technically algae, but I’m counting it as a sea vegetable), or steaming collard leaves and adding your favorite fillings.
6. Sneak extra veggies into spaghetti sauce
I don’t eat tomatoes much anymore, as they (and the rest of the nightshades) seem to cause me issues, but when I did, one of my favorite tricks was to sauté a whole chopped onion with garlic for a few minutes, then stir it into spaghetti sauce. The onion and garlic made the sauce a little sweeter and added depth of flavor, along with more veggie nutrition. Other delicious add-ins: mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and spinach. (Did I mention I love spinach?)
7. Snack on squeezy peas
All you loyal Veggie Quest readers out there know how much I love squeezy peas! But for those of you who are new on the scene, fruit and vegetable purée packs (a.k.a. squeezy peas) may technically be for babies, but they’re ridiculously tasty—and convenient—for adults. They’re especially great in the car because they can be eaten with no mess and have been known to stave off snack attacks that could land an otherwise healthy gal in a fast-food drive-thru. (Egad!) With flavors like blueberry, pear and purple carrot, or spinach, peas, and pear, they’re a delicious way to work in more veg (and fruit) on the go.
Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite way to get your veggies every day? Share your tips in the comments below!
b. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7933422 Accessed May 21, 2013
c. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17060562 Accessed May 21, 2013
d. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v66/n4/full/ejcn20124a.html Accessed May 21, 2013.
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