It is common knowledge that we need to eat vegetables daily to help ensure that we are consuming a healthy, nutritious diet with a variety of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet because of their high nutrient and vitamin profile. Therefore, eating vegetables help to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases while also ensuring we’re fueling our bodies with adequate vitamins and minerals which all have different positive benefits for the body. However, I know for some, it can be difficult to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and in fact, the overall population tends to fall short in meeting what is recommended to consume on a daily basis.
Recommendations on the number of servings of vegetables and fruits you should aim to consume per day varies based on your total caloric consumption (i.e. age, gender, weight, activity level), but as a general rule of thumb, the USDA advises filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. For today’s post, I’m going to focus specifically on vegetables and how you can easily and creatively incorporate more into your diet!
- Vegetable noodles. A great alternative to eating spaghetti/pasta is using a spiralizer to make zucchini or squash noodles! They taste very similar to actual noodles; just simply swapping out half of your serving with zucchini noodles will help to increase your vegetable consumption, and you won’t hardly even notice! Zucchini can even be thinly sliced to make an easy zucchini lasagna. It may sound daunting and time consuming, but there are plenty of easy recipes (see our Pinterest page for ideas!) out there. 🙂
- Add veggies to tomato sauce. Serving pasta or spaghetti? You can easily add cooked spinach, mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini, etc. into your tomato sauce. It’s an easy way to add in an extra serving with minimal effort! Another alternative to regular spaghetti is spaghetti squash! It’s filled with nutrients like beta carotene and fiber. See our Pinterest page for how to cook spaghetti squash and easy recipes!
- “Mashed potatoes and rice.” Cauliflower is extremely versatile and can be mashed/blended to replicate mashed potatoes! Cauliflower has a very neutral taste, similar to potatoes, so with a few simple seasoning additions like sea salt, pepper and a little butter, you have yourself a creative vegetable serving added to your day! Again, as I stated before, even just swapping in half the mashed cauliflower with your mashed potatoes is an easy way to sneak in a vegetable serving.
- Cauliflower can also be made into rice. Using a food processor, process a head of cauliflower until it turns into the consistency of rice. Sautéing it in a little olive oil, sea salt, and pepper can serve as a tasty alternative to your typical rice dish. Trader Joe’s also sells cauliflower rice in their freezer section if you’d rather purchase it instead. 🙂
- Spinach. Spinach can be added to smoothies. Even though it will turn the smoothie green, it’s tasteless but will give you that additional veggie serving for the day! Add spinach (or other veggies of course!) to omelets as well, as a simple way to increase your vegetable consumption.
- Pile on the veggies. Add extra vegetables to your sandwiches or wraps like shredded carrots, sliced beets, tomato slices, cucumbers, onion, spinach, peppers etc.! There are many options for the type of vegetables you can add, and it will add a nice flavor addition to your meal.
- Making or ordering pizza? Add on extra vegetables! You can even puree the more starchy vegetables like carrots or butternut squash, and use it as a sauce on your pizza crust or as a spread on your sandwich or wrap.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! There are many ways to add vegetables into your diet. With a little creativity (but little extra effort), you’ll find yourself eating more vegetables and enjoying them in no time!
USDA. (2015). My plate. Retrieved from: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/about
USDA & HHS. (2010). Dietary guidelines for Americans 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/dietary_guidelines_for_americans/PolicyDoc.pdf