I tend to emphasize veggies a LOT. They’re full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients. Plus there have been studies showing that people who eat more vegetables live longer, healthier lives. Yes, eating more vegetables can help you maintain a healthy body weight, and even lose some fat (as long as you don’t bread and fry them, or cover them with cream sauce). Your question is not “Should I eat more vegetables,” but “How can I eat more veggies?” Believe me, as a nutritionist I have lots of creative and delicious ways to help you eat more veggies.
And before we dive in, always start from where you are. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to overhaul your entire diet. Wherever you’re at now, I challenge you to increase your servings of vegetables by two per day. To maximize your health, nutrition experts suggest at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. I recommend a goal of 2 servings of fruit and 8 servings of vegetables per day. A serving of fruit is about 1 cup of berries or a small fruit. A serving of vegetables is about 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked. Most people manage to eat a couple servings of fruit per day, but how about all those veggies? You need to start incorporating vegetables into every meal — breakfast, lunch, dinner and even snacks. Here are some great vegetables to try and some suggestions for adding them to your diet to treat yourself to good health!
Asparagus: Roast in olive oil with garlic and a hit of lemon zest for a refreshing and seasonal dish. Roasted asparagus is also a great finger food for snacking on.
Broccoli and Cauliflower: Versatile and very healthy – eat them raw with hummus, or cooked, in a salad or even a slaw. You may even want to try cauliflower rice.
Carrots: Sweet, crunchy, good for your teeth, eyes and heart! Perfect raw (as a snack or salad) or cooked in a stir-fry, soup, casserole or stew. Try mixing some grated carrots into your ground chicken or beef when you’re making spaghetti sauce or tacos.
Peppers: Green, red, yellow, orange! Eat a rainbow. Enjoy peppers in a salad, stir-fry, or casserole or as a snack.
Spinach: A salad of baby spinach leaves with pears or apples can turn anyone into a real spinach lover. Throw a handful into your morning smoothie or add some into your scrambled eggs.
Onions: The zesty onion family (scallions, leeks and garlic) offer some powerful antioxidant nutrients. Cook with onions whenever you can. Garlic and onioins are also great for keeping your blood pressure in check. The active constituents in them make them natural vasodilators, improving arterial stiffness and inflammation.
Peas: Fresh or frozen, peas are a treat to eat and they tend to be popular with small children. Add them to pasta dishes or shepherd’s pie.
Beets: If you’ve never liked beets, try them in a new way – like roasted, grilled, pickled or lightly steamed. They are great to juice and can be added to smoothies for a great energy boost. They increase inflammation-fighting nitric oxide.
Mushrooms: Just a mushroom or two adds rich flavour to a chili, casserole, soup, stew, stir-fry or even a tossed green salad.
Dark Leafy Greens: Rule of thumb for a healthy salad – the darker green or red the lettuce leaves, the more nutrients you get. Ditch the iceburg lettuce and try some new leafy greens.
Green, Yellow or Purple Beans: Like their pea ‘cousins,’ beans offer some fiber and a little bit of protein, along with vitamins and minerals.
Tomatoes: Slice up fresh and add to a sandwich, salad, pizza or taco. Cooking increases the availability of some tomato nutrients – so cook some up or enjoy canned sauce or paste.
Many people don’t eat vegetables until dinner. Here are a few ways you can enjoy more veggies during the day:
Eat Vegetables At Breakfast
- Add vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, onion, green or red peppers to an omelette
- Add vegetables like carrots, peppers, kale or spinach to a smoothie
- Juice vegetables such as celery, cucumber, ginger and beets
- Create a “Breakfast Hash” using leftover vegetables and a protein
- Make a “Breakfast Burrito” using garlic, onion, sweet potato and bell peppers. Add in scrambled eggs and shredded cheese for a very satisfying breakfast.
Eat Vegetables At Lunch
- Add leafy greens, cucumber, tomato, pickles and peppers to sandwiches and wraps
- Add different vegetables to a green salad, like broccoli, green beans, asparagus or peas
- Add extra vegetables to soup
Eat Vegetables At Dinner
- Replace your pasta with zucchini or squash noodles
- Enjoy a side salad with dinner
- Use finely chopped cauliflower to replace rice
- Add veggies to pasta sauces
- Add shredded carrots and lettuce, diced tomatoes and peppers to tacos
- Use portobella mushrooms as a meat substitute in chili or burgers
Eat Vegetables For a Snack
- Choose kale chips or nori instead of popcorn
- Enjoy sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumber, peppers, celery or zucchini with hummus
- Spread some tuna on cucumber slices
- Enjoy a cup of soup
Enjoy adding more vegetables to your day!!
Health and happiness,
LeeAnn Cruz, Nutritionist