I can bet that you have been told that you need to eat more vegetables. It seems to be the first thing that comes out of peoples mouths when anything remotely close to eating healthier is mentioned. Eat more fruits and vegetables! In all honesty, it’s good advice even if it tends to be overstated. The problem is that the advice stops there. We’re told to eat more vegetables but not necessarily how to do it. A lot of people have bad associations with vegetables. Some were forced to eat them as kids or were served mushy tasteless dishes that made them believe all vegetables taste the same, gross. Maybe you want to eat more vegetables but you have no clue how to go about doing that. My post today is going to focus on simple ways to incorporate more vegetables into your meals. It doesn’t have to be complicated, tasteless, or boring and the more that you eat vegetables the more you will come to love them as much as I do!
Roast Them Up
This is my absolute favorite way to prepare vegetables. It’s an amazing way to add great flavor to your vegetables and it works on virtually any vegetable. I roast everything from sweet potatoes to zucchini, cabbage and beets. If I can slice it up and add a little olive oil to it, I can roast it. If you have a hard time enjoying the taste of vegetables, this cooking method is for you. Simply preheat your oven to 400-425 and prepare a baking pan with a piece of parchment paper or a Silpat. Then take your vegetable and cut it up into bite size chunks and place them in a large bowl. Add a few tablespoons of oil (I alternate between olive oil and coconut oil) and whatever seasonings you like (try Italian blends, curry powder, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, or even just salt and pepper) and mix everything together. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the pan and roast for 20-45 minutes depending on the vegetable you are using. I usually rotate the pan halfway through the cooking process. Once you start to get a nice brown edge, your vegetables are done! You can eat them as is, add to salads, or stir fry’s. Roasted vegetables also keep really well in the fridge and make great leftovers.
Make Soup or Stew
Soup is another easy way to get in more vegetables as well as large quantities of vegetables. You can add vegetables to any soup you’re making and bulk it up with extra nutrition and flavor. You could puree a variety of root vegetables, like sweet potatoes or parsnips, and after you have roasted them, add either broth or water or even almond milk to make a creamy soup. Or you could blend up a variety of vegetables from your garden like tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini and make a refreshing gazpacho on a hot summer day.
Sauces and Dips
This is another favorite way to add more vegetables to my meals. Make sauces and dips out of them! You can make a simple homemade salsa with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro. Or maybe you’re a guacamole fan. Try making your own homemade spaghetti sauce and besides the tomatoes, add in zucchini and carrots. You can even make creamy sauces with cauliflower or try a vegetable based spread like baba ghanoush. Kids especially like dipping things in sauces and this is a really good way to get a little extra nutrition into their meal without fighting over broccoli.
While I think that juicing is a great thing, I am also a big fan of eating my meals. But I know that for some people juicing their vegetables is what works best for them due to time constraints or they really can’t handle the taste of eating vegetables. If this sounds like you, try juicing your vegetables or adding them to smoothies. Leafy greens are very easy to add into your drinks and as long as you add some fruits like apples or pears, you don’t have to feel like you’re drinking grass. If you have a juicer, you can juice pretty much any vegetable quickly. I like the combination of carrots, beets, spinach, apples, and a little bit of ginger, but get creative and see what flavors you like. Remember though, if you can, it’s better to eat your vegetables so that you can get all the fiber and nutrients that fruit and vegetables have to offer. Sometimes, just drinking juice can leave you feeling hungrier sooner than eating those same foods would have.
I know this one sounds obvious and is probable one of the least favorite ways for people to get their vegetables in but salads don’t have to be boring or taste yucky. There are so many ways to spruce up a salad, like adding more vegetables, dried fruits, nuts or seeds, herbs, and topping it all with homemade dressing. Salads are a great way to get in a TON of vegetables into one meal as well as a great way to use up all the odd leftovers you have in your fridge. Start with a base of some type of leafy green (think outside the romaine and iceberg box and try kale, arugala, collard, watercress, or spinach), and add whatever you want. Try leftover cooked chicken or fish, roasted sweet potatoes or cauliflower, raw almonds or pistachios, dried (and unsweetened) cranberries or goji berries, add pumpkin or sunflower seeds for a little extra crunch. And the dressing options are endless and just as simple to make. Give salads a chance and you might just fall in love with them.
Eating more vegetables shouldn’t make you want to run screaming to your nearest bakery and shove as many donuts as you can into your mouth. Incorporating these healthy foods into your meals is simple and only takes a little bit of effort and creativity. So now that you know what to do, go eat your vegetables!