Are you trying to work more veggies into your day? Me too! They’re slimming, filling, and oh-so-good for you. That’s why the Veggie Quest 2-pounds-a-day challenge is probably my favorite blog post each month.
Of course, I can’t claim to have thought up the 2-pound idea. Rather, I got it from Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live, which describes a “nutritarian” eating plan that may help reduce risk of—and even reverse—certain chronic diseases, like diabetes.
For me, aiming to eat 2 pounds of vegetables reminds me to step outside my normal food routine and focus on food that’s both delicious and nourishing. Also, since I can get a little lazy about meal planning (you’d think a food blogger wouldn’t order in so much 😉 ), the 2-pound challenge forces me to plan a full day of fresh, seasonal, veggie-rich meals. (Especially since I don’t want to bore you with the same food every month!)
So, are you ready for a little vegetation inspiration? Let’s eat!
(You can find my final pounds-and-ounces tally at the end of the post.)
Breakfast: Mango-vanilla green smoothie (with zucchini)
- 6.5 oz zucchini
- 2.5 oz spinach
- 2 oz green peas
As some of you know, I’m temporarily following a yeast-reducing diet. (I’ve had some rather, erm, personal itching issues, shall we say.) However, I’m still allowing myself one serving of fruit a day, which I reserve for my morning smoothie.
Green smoothies are a seriously easy way to increase your veggie intake, and they taste amazing. Sort of like dessert for breakfast! (I really like dessert for breakfast.) You can work in two or three servings of veggies without really noticing it:
Since my smoothies normally have at least 2 different kinds of fruit in them, though (see my blueberry muffin power smoothie), I’ve had to do something to make up for the lost fruit. So I’ve been using veggies as a substitute, with varying levels of success.
Now, it takes a certain kind of veggie to step in for fruit in a smoothie, but zucchini is up to the challenge. It’s sweet, mild-tasting, and helps give smoothies a nice, creamy texture. I’ve even used it in my chocolate-cherry vegan milkshake.
To make zucchini work as a fruit substitute in a green smoothie, though, you have to add a little extra sweetener and a source of acid.
So I followed my ridiculously simple green smoothie formula, but instead of a pear, subbed in about 2/3 of a large zucchini, along with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and some liquid stevia. My frozen fruit was mango, my leafy green was fresh spinach, and I added about ¼ scoop of vanilla Vega Protein & Greens powder and a little extra water. (I’m not normally a fan of protein powders, but since I’m dialing back on beans right now, it’s helpful. Plus, it tastes great.) I got a nutrition boost from some flax seed and hemp hearts, and for yumminess, I added a few hefty shakes of cinnamon.
The results were delicious, if I don’t say so myself.
I was still a smidge hungry though (I’d been up since 5 am), so I downed a Plum Organics “Just Peas” squeezy pack. The package said 3 ounces, so I guessed it was 2 ounces of actual peas plus water.
No, I don’t have a baby. I just really like veggie squeezy pouches: They don’t have any added junk, and they taste great.
Breakfast veggie count: 10 oz
Lunch: Summer veggie salad and spinach-stuffed sweet potato
- 2 oz spring mix lettuce
- 6 oz cucumber
- 4 oz tomato
- 3 oz cooked spinach
Lunch was quick and simple: A salad loaded with veggies fresh out of the garden (English cucumber, Purple Cherokee tomato, and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes) drizzled with my favorite lemon-tahini dressing. (Check back for the dressing recipe Friday; its rich tahini flavor makes any veggie taste better!)
I also had a small sweet potato, microwaved for about 5 minutes, then topped with garlicky sauteed spinach and roasted sunflower seeds. (Stuffing a sweet potato is a great way to use up leftover sauteed greens.)
In fact, lunch was so big that I ate what I couldn’t finish as a snack later, along with a small handful of raw cashews and sunflower seeds. Then it was on to dinner!
Lunch/snack veggie count: 15 oz
Dinner: Vietnamese summer rolls with black bean noodles and fresh herbs
- 7.5 oz of veggies in 3 summer rolls (lettuce, jicama, carrots, cucumber)
- 3 oz leftover veggies from making summer rolls
Making summer rolls is one of my favorite ways to sneak in more vegetables. First and foremost, summer rolls taste amazing, loaded with fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, and basil. What’s more, you basically end up eating a salad without feeling at all like you’re eating a salad. I mean, it comes in a wrapper. With dipping sauce. It can’t possibly be a salad.
And while they look a little intimidating, summer rolls are surprisingly easy to make. (Click here for simple step-by-step instructions—with pictures.) Sure, your first rolls might turn out a little lopsided, but they’ll still taste great.
You can get summer roll wrappers in the Asian food aisle of most grocery stores, or you can get them on Amazon here. (I know the label says spring roll wrapper, but trust me on this one.) The best part? You don’t even have to cook the wrappers. (Guess that’s why they call them summer rolls?) Just dip the them in water and they soften as you fill them.
For filling, you can use pretty much any veggies you have on hand. I used lettuce, carrots (pre-shredded), jicama, cucumber, and black bean noodles, along with cilantro, Kentucky Colonel mint, and basil. (Accompanied by plenty of my delectable cashew butter dipping sauce.)
So that was dinner, along with some veggies left over from summer roll prep, which I ate as I was cleaning up. (Yup, I weighed those too.) 🙂
Veggie count: 10.5 oz
Dessert was chia seed pudding from Susan’s recipe on FatFree Vegan. I doubled the vanilla and swapped carob for cocoa, because I’m trying to cut back on chocolate, as it’s fermented. No veggies here, though, unless you count carob as a bean? But it sure was a sweet way to end the day.
So, how’d I do? Well, even without counting the sweet potato or the bean noodles (literally made out of black beans and water), I easily surpassed my 2-pound goal:
All in all, I’m pretty pleased with how my 2-pound challenge turned out. I’ve felt satisfied all day, although frankly three summer rolls plus extra veggies plus chia pudding was probably a bit too much for dinner. (But the pudding was so good.)
Anyhow, as I say every month, if you’re not used to eating lots of vegetables, it’s best to increase intake gradually to keep your insides happy! (Interestingly, eating more vegetables is linked to overall happiness as well.) However, keep in mind that some medications and health conditions can interact with certain foods—even vegetables. So if you have a health condition, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor before making dietary changes.
That said, even moderately increasing veggie intake is good for most people. So if 2 pounds of vegetables a day isn’t your thing, know that every little bit helps. Hopefully my over-the-top day has gotten you thinking of ways you can work more veggies into your day!
What veggies did you eat today? Any recipes you think I should try for next month’s edition? Please feel free to link up in your comment!