How to Finally Eat More Veggies … And Enjoy It!
By Melanie Beasley, RD, LD
October 22, 2019
Many of us are living in the land of vegetable guilt. We talk and think about how we “should” be eating more vegetables and we all recall our mothers telling us to “eat your vegetables,” … but still it’s hard to do (even for me as a nutritionist). Knowing that I’m not alone in that struggle (I see many, many clients who have shared the same issue), I decided to jot down how you can stop the guilt and just do it – eat those veggies!
Here are my favorite surprising strategies to ensure these delicious disease-fighting vegetables are in my daily meals. I encourage you to read the ideas and not knock any of them until you try them!
- Veggies for Breakfast – When you add some vegetables to the very first meal of the day, you feel great! (and a little righteous) Crumbles of raw broccoli or cauliflower in your eggs are a delicious and easy way to start – don’t forget the extra butter. Oftentimes, I find myself stir frying peppers (or whatever veggies I have on hand), onion and garlic in bacon fat with crumbled bacon and poached eggs on top. It sounds as good as it tastes! Another, faster, option is to make a protein smoothie and try adding spinach or kale, frozen cauliflower and carrots to the blender. You can’t taste the veggies and they really pack a nutritious punch in your smoothie. I purchase bags of organic kale or spinach and freeze them for an easy smoothie addition. Another tip is to take greens that are about to go past their prime and pop them in the freezer for your next smoothie. Waste not, want not!
- Start Each Meal with a Delicious Salad – Let’s face it, salad is just plain easy to get your vegetable quota. However, a sad plate of lettuce won’t make anyone motivated to dig in, so I start my salads with a base mix of Napa cabbage, finely chopped Kale or radicchio and purple cabbage. Spinach, arugula, or whatever other greens you like are all great options, too. When in a rush, I buy the organic salad kits at the big box stores. Throw away the dressing where harmful oils and sugars galore reside. These are highly unstable, highly inflammatory oils that can lead to cell damage in the body. Instead use a cleaner selection or make your own (here are a four easy homemade salad dressings to try).
And finally, you can get SUPER creative with what you add to your salad, here are just a few of my favorites:
- Shaved beets
- Canned artichokes
- Garbanzo beans
- Frozen peas
- Water chestnuts
- Sliced cherry tomatoes
- Shaved carrots
- Sweet potato bites
- Broccoli bites
- Kalamata olives
- Cauliflower bites
- Mini bell peppers
- Sneak Veggies into Soup, Year-round – In my kitchen, soup is perfect (year-round) for the lazy cook in me. I begin with a base of bone broth and build the soup starting with what I have on hand. If I have chicken, carrots, celery and onion I make a chicken wild rice soup. If I have beef, I make a beef vegetable soup. If hamburger and green beans are in the freezer, I love to make a rendition of our Hamburger Soup.
Most of these soups are thrown into my crockpot and cooked on low until I get home for dinner. Other times I have the crockpot going while I sleep. Come morning, I’ll throw the entire soup in the fridge to be reheated when I get home from work. (After dinner, if I have ample leftovers, I’ll freeze some in containers to be brought to work for lunch on busy days.)
- Replace Carbs with Veggies at Dinner – When I know I have not gotten enough vegetables, it is time to use veggies as my base for all my other foods. Here are some examples of what I mean by that.
- Meat Marinara (with hidden veggies!) over spaghetti squash
- Chicken Pesto over zucchini noodles
- Chicken curry over cauliflower rice
- Pulled pork over coleslaw
- Bacon, lettuce and tomato salad instead of bread (a coworker recently taught me this delicious brilliance)
- Shrimp fried cauliflower rice
- Wrap It Up – A quick and easy trick is to use nitrate-free deli meat or butter lettuce to make a wrap stuffed with vegetables and protein. Stuff your wrap with peppers, sweet onions, chives, spinach, shaved carrots or beets. Even sauerkraut with pastrami is delicious! Dip in your favorite dressing, guacamole or hummus.
And that’s a wrap, literally. What do you think of these ideas? Could you start incorporating one or two of them to get more veggies in daily? I’ve found that my clients are much more likely to have more veggies with tricks like these. Vegetables no longer have to mean a bland side dish (though no one could call steamed broccoli with a hearty smear of butter bland!), so get creative and get eating. If you need more personalized or one-on-one help, consider coming in to see me (or chatting by phone) or one of my colleagues for a nutrition consultation. We’re here to help you make the connection between what you eat and how you feel, and conquer your goals when it comes to eating better.