How many vegetables did you eat yesterday? If you are like most adults, you probably missed the mark of getting the recommended 2-3 cups a day, even though you probably know they are good for your health. June 17 was National “Eat Your Vegetables” Day to encourage people to eat more vegetables. Increasing your vegetable intake may protect you against health problems in the future because they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. But consumers often report that convenience, price, and fear of spoilage keep them from eating more vegetables.
Here are some easy ways to prepare vegetables so that they end up fueling your body and not filling the trash.
Make them visible in your kitchen.
If you don’t see it, you probably won’t eat it. Try washing and cutting them ahead of time, then storing them on a shelf in the refrigerator instead of the drawer. When you open the refrigerator door, you will immediately see them.
Enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your normal meals.
- Add mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, peppers, and onions to your eggs in the morning for a veggie-packed omelet.
- Double the amount indicated in soup, casserole, and pasta recipes.
Experiment with a new vegetable or recipe each week.
- Select vegetables that are “in season” to get the best flavor and price.
- Make it fun for the whole family by allowing each member to take turns picking the vegetable of the week.
- Look for new recipes for some of your tried and true veggies to try something different.
Find creative ways to use grated or pureed vegetables as ingredients in main dishes.
- Add grated carrots or zucchini to meatloaf or burgers for extra moistness and flavor.
- Stir in cooked and pureed cauliflower, winter squash, or red pepper into sauces, mashed potatoes, pot pies, or even mac and cheese.
- Thicken your spaghetti sauce with a favorite pureed vegetable.
- Substitute your pasta with spiralized vegetables, like zucchini or yellow squash.
Make your salads a vegetable goldmine.
- Be selective in your greens. The darker the greens—like romaine, spinach and leaf lettuce—the more nutritious.
- Add crunch and flavor by topping your salad with a variety of vegetables, instead of bacon, cheese, and croutons.
- Make your salad your entrée by adding chicken or fish—you could get half your recommended servings in one salad.
- Watch the dressing. Keep it light to enjoy the flavor of the vegetables.
Boost your smoothies.
Some vegetables make great fiber-filling smoothie additions, like carrots, cooked pumpkin or sweet potato, and raw kale or spinach.
Now, go ahead, get creative—the sky’s the limit to veggie up your diet.