12 Ways to Get More Veggies in Your Diet

Research links diets rich in fruits and vegetables with a..

12 Ways to Get More Veggies in Your Diet

Research links diets rich in fruits and vegetables with a lower risk for heart disease, but The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that most Americans and Britons eat less than half the amount of recommended vegetable servings.

Meals packed with produce can help you lower the risk for heart disease, lose weight and add more fiber, nutrients and antioxidants in your diet.

If you’re finding it difficult to get your daily servings of vegetables, try these twelve tips that make eating more vegetables easy.

1. Eat vegetables for breakfast

Lots of breakfast dishes are better with vegetables. Think of omelets, frittatas, even toast with kale and an egg.

I prep some cooked greens in a three- or four-serving size. 

And keep them in a plastic zip bag so I can microwave a serving to eat with an egg for breakfast.” Smart!

Boost Your Breakfast

Add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms or onions to your eggs for a delicious omelet, or pile the whole scramble on your favorite bread, tortilla, or bagel for a booster breakfast sandwich.

Have a glass of juice. Make sure it’s made from 100% fruit juice, and limit yourself to eight ounces per day to avoid too many added sugars. 

Don’t have time for breakfast?

Whole fruits are quick, prep-free, on-the-go solution. Grab an apple, peach, banana, or orange and enjoy it on your way to work.

2. Add (or double!) the vegetables in your nightly meals

Two serving of veggies please! This is the one time that doubling up on your servings can actually be a good thing.

The USDA recommends filling half your plate with fruits and veggies.

There aren’t many weeknight meals that wouldn’t be made better with a handful of kale or spinach. Pizza?

Top with broccoli florets. Risotto?

See: handful of kale. Pasta?

That’s easy — roasted carrots, beets, cabbage. See how many different vegetables you can pack in to what you’re already cooking.

Which is made extra easy when you’ve followed the advice above (get them delivered, roast or cook them ahead of time). 

3. Snack on a smoothie

A blended smoothie can offer the perfect breakfast, lunch or snack.

Start with your favorite fruits and some low-fat or almond milk and then throw in a handful of greens for an added nutritional boost (1 cup of greens equals one serving of veggies).

If you’re worried that you won’t like the flavor of the spinach or romaine, add a banana or a small spoonful of peanut butter or both, and you won’t taste the greens.

4. Make Veggies Easy and Available

Out of sight, out of mind.

If you buy veggies and then stick them in the back of the fridge, you might next see them when they look like a science experiment a month later.

Keep your veggies where you can see them.

Put them in a pretty bowl on the counter or on top of the fridge. If they must be refrigerated, put the veggies on the top shelf in the front so you see them as soon as you open the door.

Keep organic frozen veggies in the freezer so you will always have some on hand. 

Prep veggies in advance to make them more accessible. Cut up carrots, celery, bell peppers and zucchini and put them in storage bags or containers with other easy-to-eat veggies like cherry tomatoes and snap peas.

Alternatively, you can buy pre-cut vegetables at the store. When we look for a snack, we will be more likely to grab the cut-up veggies since all the work has already been done.

Grab a bag of raw veggies to take with you to work or when you go shopping. When hunger pangs strike, reach for that bag of veggies rather than buying chips or donuts.

5. Seasoning, Dip and Sauces

Even if you like the taste of vegetables, seasoning them always makes them taste better. Marinate veggies in a mix of tamari, lemon, balsamic or apple cider vinegar and your favorite herbs and spices.

BBQ Sauces, Rubs and Marinades are great ideas for getting the most flavor out of your food. Or toss them in a spice blend with an Italian or Asian twist. Saute them in olive oil or coconut oil. Glaze them with maple syrup.

Vegetables like to get dressed up so try some dips and sauces to dress them in, especially in the beginning when you are learning to like them.

Whip up a salsa verde or Tzatziki dressing to dip raw veggies in. Make Asian stir-fry sauces or a vegan cheese sauce to drizzle over your broccoli

Think of veggies when you need a spread for your next sandwich. Use hummus or pestoinstead of mayo or mustard.

Add minced veggies to the cream cheese you’re about to spread on your bagel. Enjoy the savory flavor of this Char-Roasted Eggplant Spread or this lovely Muhammara Spread.

6. Make cooking ridiculously easy

After shopping, wash and chop your just-bought raw or frozen veggies and store them in the fridge, preferably in glass or BPA-free containers.

When it’s time to put a meal together you’ll be able to just grab your pre-prepped, salad-bar style veggies and toss ‘em right into whatever you’re cooking.

The result?

A much healthier meal with virtually no extra effort. Another bonus?

With lots of ready-to-go veggies on hand, you’ll be able to eat perishables in a more timely fashion, so you’ll waste less food.

7. Cook creatively, dine differently

Update a traditional recipe by tossing as many extra veggies as you can into soups and sauces.

Most extra veggies added towards the end of the cooking process won’t change the taste of a dish, so add with abandon.

Throw them into a recipe that doesn’t usually include them.

For example, add broccoli, mushrooms and cauliflower to a chicken curry or chopped spinach and flax seeds to spaghetti sauce.

8. Buy more, eat more (veggies, that is)

Just like chips and cookies, the more fruits and veggies in particular you have in the house, the more likely you are to eat them.

In other words, leave the bad stuff on the shelf and load the shopping cart with veggies and some fruits (my favorites being the berries).

The less access you have to junk food, the more likely it is you’ll make a health-supporting choice when hunger or a late-night craving strikes.

9. Challenge Yourself

Set fun and attainable goals for yourself and keep track on a list where you can check off your accomplishments.

Possible weekly goals can include buying one or two new vegetables each shopping trip, cooking a new vegetable, trying a familiar vegetable in a new way or practicing Meatless Monday and having one “vegetables only” day.

Daily goals might be incorporating one vegetable into each meal of the day or eating one veggie-focused snack.

Maybe this is the week to give Brussels sprouts or artichokes a try?

10. Expose Yourself to More Veggies

In order to eat more veggies, you need to get yourself in the same room with them.

Read cookbooks and online recipes and get inspiration for new dishes.

Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and have a box of vegetables delivered to your door every week. You will probably get veggies you never would have chosen yourself.

Visit your local farmers’ market and the produce department of your favorite supermarket and take your time looking at the variety of vegetables available to you.

Check out all the shapes and colors and don’t be afraid to ask questions from the people who know produce best. They will be happy to offer advice and cooking suggestions for each veggie.

Make it a goal to buy one or two new vegetables each week, read up on the best ways to cook them and try them in a recipe that sounds delicious.

11. Use as toppings for fish, poultry, meat or tofu

In addition to having vegetables as a side dish for dinner, you can also make a quick salsa.

Or, stir-fry some flavorful vegetables and use as a topping for grilled fish or chicken.

Try fresh tomatoes diced with a little onion and fresh basil on poultry, or a salsa made from diced cucumber, bell pepper, onion and lime juice on top of fish.

Or, quickly sauté some onions and mushrooms with a little white wine and use to dress up some roasted tofu.

12. Have a main dish salad for a meal

If your dinners are the typical protein, starch and veggie, you may get only a single serving vegetable at your meal.

One way to boost your veggie intake is to make a main dish salad instead. Start by loading up your salad bowl with a variety of leafy greens and an array of fresh vegetables.

It’s also nice to add some cooked vegetables, like steamed or roasted veggies that have been allowed to cool for additional texture.

Toss with light dressing and top with some protein, and you’ll be getting several servings of vegetables in one bowl.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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