10 Yummy (And Rather Sneaky) Ways To Include More Veggies…That Aren’t Salad!
We all know we should eat veggies, and probably more than we are, but how much exactly? The American Heart Association recommends we get at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day. A serving = 1 cup of leafy greens, 1/2 cup of raw or frozen chopped fruits or veggies, or 1 medium piece of fruit. But most American’s aren’t even coming close to that! Try to fill half your plate with veggies, leaving the other half for protein and whole grains. Veggies most, yo!
Why should we care?
There’s a lot to love about veggies, here are the top reasons…
They’re loaded with health-protecting phytonutrients (like carotenoids, lycopene, and flavonoids). These give fruits and veggies vibrant colors but also help prevent cancer, protect eyes, maintain a healthy immune system, and reduces risk of chronic disease like cardiovascular disease.
They’re loaded with fiber which maintains good colon health! Fiber also reduces cholesterol, controls blood-sugar levels, and helps maintains healthy weight.
Vitamins and minerals (abundant in veggies) are essential to health and keeps eyes, teeth and gums, and skin healthy, and helps to maintain healthy blood pressure.
Um, they’re totally delicious! Veggies add color, flavor, and texture to every meal.
Versatile! They can be enjoyed raw, steamed, sautéed, and my favorite…roasted. They’re also delicious at all times of the day, even for breakfast.
Low calorie, yet nutrient dense which makes a great go-to snack.
Sneak ‘em in!
Do you have a veggie-hater in your house? Or maybe you are one yourself! Some people had bad experiences with veggies in childhood….cooked-to-heck Brussel’s sprouts or canned peas, for instance. That’s seriously gross, and I feel awful for the people who had to live through that. But veggies are awesome and there are lots of yummy ways to add more into a regular diet…
Try veggie burgers (no, they’re not supposed to taste like, or be a substitute for, beef burgers…it’s like saying cheesecake and carrot cake should taste similar because they’re both “cake”!). Give it a whirl! Here’s a quick recipe: 2 cans black beans mashed, one grated zucchini, one red pepper diced, one cup of rolled oats, swirl in a little olive oil (like 1 T tops) and toss in some herbs/spices (I like a little chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika). Form into patties and either bake in the oven, sauté in a pan, or toss on the grill (use a grill pan though, they’re too soft to go directly on). Delicious served on a bun with some smoked cheddar, pickles, lettuce, and tomato.
Include more in soups and stews…veggies always taste good in a hearty soup or stew! You can sneak even more veggies in if you use an immersion blender or food processor….a favorite of mine is to boil potatoes or squash, carrots, celery, and onions in broth then add spinach or broccoli until tender. Buzz it up into a creamy bisque-like bowl of heaven!
Add veggies to scrambled eggs…spinach, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and/or mushrooms are amazing.
Add a handful of spinach and/or chopped zucchini to your fruit smoothie…I swear you won’t even taste it!
Make oatmeal with grated carrots (or zucchini…or both!)…add them to the water and bring to a boil, add rolled oats like usual, and add any or all of the following: a little cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg, half a banana, chopped dates, chopped walnuts, and unsweetened shredded coconut and you’ve got a seriously good carrot-cake thing going on!
Finely chop spinach and stir into red sauce.
Roast ‘em up! Roasted veggies are probably the most delicious and you can roast just about any veggie imaginable….potatoes of course, carrots, parsnips, radishes, green beans, broccoli, peppers, asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, Brussel’s sprouts, beets, all manner of squash, even kale! You can dry-roast or add a little drizzle of oil or get fancy and add some herbs or spices like rosemary and thyme or smoked paprika and chili powder or curry powder. I like to make a huge batch of roasted veggies on Sunday and have them for salad add-ins, snacks, or sides throughout the week.
Add a handful of peas, finely chopped broccoli, and/or chopped spinach in the last few minutes of cooking rice.
Wash and chop raw veggies and stash in the fridge for easy access and you’ll be more likely to reach for them when looking for a snack. I love carrots, grape tomatoes, pea pods, bell peppers, and zucchini for snacks either solo or with a little hummus or even peanut or almond butter!
Add extra veggie options at Taco Night. Some of our favorite taco add-in’s are shredded cabbage, tomatoes, avocado, peppers, steamed and diced sweet potatoes, and/or spinach.