Do you struggle with HOW to get more veggies into your diet? We’ve been told since we were toddlers that we need to eat our vegetables. As kids, we heard it from our parents, doctors, teachers and our friend’s mom from down the street. And as grown ups, we know all the right answers for why vegetables are good for us:
- They’re full of nutrients
- They reduce the risk of diseases, like diabetes, cancer and heart disease
- They have tons of fiber
According to www.choosemyplate.gov, a woman between the ages of 31 and 50 should get 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day. Go into your kitchen real quick and grab your measuring cup to get an idea of how much that is. I’ll wait for you to come back. You might find that 2 1/2 cups is more vegetables than you’re currently eating.
Why do we struggle to get veggies into our diet when we know they’re good for us? Well, let’s be honest. Carrots and asparagus and zucchini don’t taste as good as chocolate and pizza and Doritos AND we don’t always know how to cook them.
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I’ve struggled to get veggies into my diet. I would see friends post amazing salads on Instagram, full of avocados and tomatoes and sprouts and it seemed unrealistic and overwhelming for me to incorporate that into my daily routine. So I decided to start small by adding one vegetable each week and I noticed a few changes:
- I felt better after eating veggies than I do after eating junk food. I’m not gonna lie. The chocolate and pizza and Doritos….they taste GOOD in the moment. But an hour later, I feel bloated and fatigued and swollen. That doesn’t happen when I eat veggies.
- I feel full when I eat veggies and then, because I’m full, I eat less. Veggies are full of fiber, which fills us up, so the more veggies you eat, the more fiber you get and the less hungry you are. It’s a beautiful equation.
- I feel better about myself when I eat vegetables. And I don’t mean physically. I feel like I’m being nice to myself when I eat more vegetables, because I know that I’m doing something that’s good for me and my health.
If you’re already eating your 2 1/2 cups of veggies a day, good for you!! But if you struggle to fit veggies into your diet like I do, here are a few things that might help you meet your daily requirement:
VEGGIES AND DIP
I’m a dip girl. I think everything tastes better if it’s dipped in something. Ranch, hummus, blue cheese, salsa, honey mustard, tzatziki sauce, guacamole, guacamole, guacamole. Did I mention guacamole? I LOVE DIPS. But they aren’t always healthy for you. So I have a super healthy and easy dip that I make for my veggies. It’s only 2 ingredients!
- Fage plain Greek yogurt
- Hidden Valley Ranch Dip mix
Just stir them together, keep them in a small Tupperware in your fridge and then, mid afternoon, grab some carrots, broccoli,celery, cucumbers or celery and dip! And you don’t have to feel guilty. Even if you ate the whole thing, it would only be 195 calories AND you’d be getting 20 grams of protein!
Most people think of fruit when they think of smoothies, but smoothies are a great way to eat more vegetables. My favorite veggie to use in smoothies is spinach, but I know a lot of people use kale as well. I buy a bag of spinach and freeze it. That way the spinach is also acting like an ice cube! Below is my favorite veggie smoothie recipe:
- 1 cup of Silk Dark Almond Milk
- 1 scoop of your favorite chocolate protein powder (I use whey protein from my grocery store)
- Strawberry Greek Yogurt (I use Oikos)
- 5 strawberries
- 2 cups of spinach (I know that seems like a lot, but it blends in really well)
- 1/2 cup of water
This makes a BIG smoothie, you get almost your full serving of vegetables in one meal, plus a bonus of fruit and it’s all only 364 calories and 31 grams of protein! To drop the calories down a little bit, you could do a 1/2 cup of almond milk instead of a full cup.
Feel free to get creative and make your own! Switch out the chocolate almond milk and protein powder for vanilla. Choose a different greek yogurt flavor or add another fruit or veggie! Smoothies are also great on the go meals. Just mix it up at home and take it with you!
This is my FAVORITE way to eat veggies! I mean, who doesn’t love chips? And you can use almost any vegetable!
- Slice your veggies (I prefer mine sliced thin, because they get crispier)
- Drizzle with a little olive oil
- Add salt and pepper
- Roast in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes at 425 (time may vary depending on your oven). I flip them over half way through and add a little more salt and pepper.
Zucchini chips are my favorite. i often make them to eat while I’m making dinner, because it keeps me from ‘sampling’ too much. I’ve seen a lot of recipes that use kale, sweet potatoes, carrots and even beets (I like veggies, but I can’t do beets).
Another easy way to include vegetables into your diet is to add them to something you’re already making. A few great ways to do this is by adding veggies to meals you probably already eat.
OMELETS – I don’t normally think of veggies as a breakfast food, but you could get a head start on your daily requirement by adding spinach, onion, peppers and mushrooms to your omelet. You’ll be starting your day off with protein and fiber that will keep you full!
PIZZA – Pizza is another great way to get a ton of veggies and it won’t even feel like you’re eating healthy! Pizza is a perfect place for mushrooms, peppers, onions, broccoli, tomatoes and even carrots. For non-veggie eaters, this is a great way to start adding vegetables to your diet.
SANDWICHES – If you make a sandwich or wrap for lunch, throw some lettuce, spinach, or kale on there! For people watching their carbs, you can even use romaine lettuce as your ‘bread’. Then you’re watching carbs AND getting your vegetables.
SALAD – The best way I’ve found to get vegetables into my diet (and my husband’s) is by making a salad every night. It doesn’t have to take long, either. I just buy the bagged salad, throw pre-cut veggies on and I’m done AND I’ve gotten almost my whole serving of veggies for the day. Try it for a week and you’ll see it will quickly become a healthy habit!
For many people, the taste of vegetables is what keeps them away. If that’s you, I would recommend roasting your veggies. When vegetables are cooked for a long time on high heat, they start to caramelize, which makes them taste sweeter and it also reduces the bitter taste that some vegetables have. Another benefit of roasting veggies is that it’s EASY and hard to mess up! Even if you don’t like cooking, roasting veggies will make you feel like a professional chef.
Just choose your favorite veggie or maybe pick one that you don’t usually eat! We roast asparagus, brussel sprouts, squash, broccoli, peppers, and zucchini. Toss it in balsamic vinegar or olive oil, put your favorite seasoning on there and roast it in the oven!
Cooking times vary, so use trial and error. I typically set my oven to 425 and roast my veggies for 20 – 25 minutes. The smaller you cut your veggies, the quicker they’ll cook.
Many people avoid making vegetables because it can be time consuming to cut them all up. While this can be true, there are a couple of things you can do to make it easier.
I cut my vegetables for the week on Sundays and put them in small ziplock bags. That way when things are busy during the week, I don’t have an excuse to not include veggies in my meals. All I have to do is grab a bag and toss them in!
Most grocery stores do sell pre-cut veggies. While these are fresh, they are more expensive, so you can decide if this shortcut is worth it.
The newest craze is the veggie spiralizer. Have your friends started posting pictures of theirs yet? Veggies spiralizers are awesome, because you can take a veggie like zucchini, cucumber or squash, run it through the spiralizer and it makes noodles like pasta! They’re really easy to use and they make it easier to include veggies in your meal!
MUFFINS AND BREADS
Confession. I see zucchini muffins and breads on Pinterest and Instagram and I am always intrigued…..but I’ve never tried to make them! Given how popular these seem to be, I felt like I should include them here as a fun way for you to add vegetables into your diet. So let’s make a deal. If you try one of these recipes, shoot me an email and let me know what you think!
As moms, and many of us working moms, our lives are busy. Trying to have the time or brain space to eat healthy can sometimes seem impossible. I hope that a few of these ideas were helpful to you and that you can find a way to include them in your diet!
My challenge to you, if you don’t eat veggies on a regular basis, is to take one of these suggestions and try it this week. I think you’ll be surprised to find that it’s not as overwhelming as you think AND you’ll feel good about doing something for yourself.
And just so we’re clear, I’ve done really well adding veggies into my diet, but I still eat chocolate and pizza and Doritos sometimes too.
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