If I am being 100% honest, I often don’t crave vegetables (for the most part). Most people are probably in the same boat. Although don’t get me wrong, when I don’t eat ‘healthy’ one day – it happens to the best of us – my body knows that it has not been treated well and all I want is vegetables.
A common piece of advice I give to my clients is to try and make half their plate vegetables. It’s the easiest way to boost nutrient-density that your body needs and loves. Vegetables are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. And bonus, they go with practically any eating plan. But how do you make this reality and a regular habit? Great question…I’ll get to that very shortly.
Getting more vegetables in at each meal for health is not a new revelation that has hit the newsstands across the globe. People are well aware of how important it is, and if I had a nickel for the number of people that tell me this, I would be rich. But it is a lot harder to put it into practice.
Here are a few tips to adding more vegetables into your life:
Make cauliflower rice
In a food processor or blender, pulse cauliflower to rice-size pieces and serve raw, roasted on a baking sheet or stir-fry with other seasonal veggies.
Get your spiralizer out and make zucchini “noodles”
Using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, peel zucchini to make noodle-like chunks and eat as a salad or in place of pasta noodles.
Try spaghetti squash
Cook the spaghetti squash and stuff it with you fav chili recipe or scrape with a fork and use the strings in place of pasta noodles.
Use chard leaves as a wrap
Use the leaves from swiss chard or collard greens as a sandwich wrap. Blanch or microwave for 10 seconds to make the leaf more stretchable.
Use romaine lettuce as scoops/boats
Have a great tuna salad, chicken salad, or Thai peanut chicken recipe? Scoop it up with some romaine lettuce.
Chop mushrooms to match the texture of ground meat in a burger or a taco. For a more savory flavor keep the ratio 50:50 and for a lighter food try 80:20 mushrooms to meat.
Add purees to any dish! Squash, cauliflower or carrot purees are perfect for burgers, stews, or pasta sauces.
Make veggie burgers
I don’t have much to say about these, they are pretty self-explanatory! The store-bought varieties don’t have many veggies.
Pack in those leafy greens in morning smoothies
Mighty kale! Popeye spinach!
Snack on kale chips
Not exactly the same thing as a kale salad, but close.
Make your own root vegetable baked “fries/chips”
Parsnips or Beets roasted with garlic and rosemary are probably my favourite root vegetables to bake
Embrace soup weather
Whether homemade or store-bought, double the vegetables in any soup recipe.
Bottom Line: Be sensible and start where you are at. If you’re eating zero vegetables a day, try to get to one consistently. If you’re eating two servings, shoot for three. Or try out some of the tips I mentioned for getting more veggies in your life.
Article written by Courtney Chisholm, Registered Dietitian at World Health Calgary Place.