Easy and Creative Ways to Add Vegetables to Your Diet

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

Overnight Oats

Today, I wanted to piggyback off my “Hectic to Healthy: How to Jump Start Your Day in a Healthy Way” post and provide you with a few simple yet delicious Overnight Oats options!

This is an excellent way to ensure that you’re eating a nutritious breakfast that can be prepped in just a few short minutes the night before! Using Old Fashioned Oats where the only ingredient is 100% whole grain rolled oats will not only benefit your health but your wallet as well! For example, a 42oz canister of Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats will typically cost you roughly $3.99 with about 30 servings per canister (buying store-brand such as Market Pantry at Target or Giant brand will save you even more and it’s the same ingredient list!). A box of Quaker flavored oatmeal packets 8ct will typically cost you anywhere from $2.50 to $4.99. So, as you can see, you will get more meals for less money out of purchasing simply rolled oats, compared to single serving packets. Also, by purchasing plain oats, you’re eliminating the added sugars and fillers found in oatmeal-flavored packets, and your options are endless with the different flavor combinations and add-ins you can make!

Before I delve into the makings of overnight oats, I wanted to highlight a few of the benefits of 100% whole grain rolled oats and why it can make a great healthy option for breakfast!

  • Oats are a good source of insoluble and soluble fiber. A typical ½ cup serving will contain about 4 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber, a type of carbohydrate, passes through your body slowly, which in turn helps keep you feeling full longer. Some benefits of including an adequate amount of fiber in your diet include lowering blood LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and helping control blood sugar levels.
  • 100% whole grain rolled oats are rich in several minerals (did you read my previous post on the mineral, calcium? :)) including iron, zinc, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.
  • With 5 grams of protein for ½ cup serving, 100% rolled old-fashioned oats are a good source of protein too! The protein content can be increased if made with milk instead of water as well.

So now that we have a better understanding of the health benefits of oats, it’s time for the fun part:

Overnight Oats

I hesitate to call these recipes since making overnight oats is SO SIMPLE with endless healthy options, so I will simply break down the steps and offer you a few healthy flavor enhancers and add-ins to try!

  • The general rule of thumb is to have a 1:1 ratio so 1 part rolled oats to 1 part liquid. For example, ½ cup of rolled oats to ½ cup of water or milk. If you like thicker oatmeal use less liquid and vice versa for thinner oats.
  • Once you add your oats and water/milk to a large cup, bowl, or mason jar, add fresh or frozen fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, or apples. Fruit will increase the fiber content in addition to enhancing the vitamin and mineral amount as well!
  • Add healthy fats like nuts (i.e. almonds, walnuts, pecans), nut butters (i.e. almond, coconut), or seeds such as chia seeds or sunflower seeds. Adding healthy fats will help keep you feeling satiated longer after your meal and can help reduce your risk of bad cholesterol while also maintaining the functioning of your body’s cells.
  • If you want to add sweetness to your oats, some healthy options include natural flavor extracts such as vanilla, almond, or banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, a dash of honey or maple syrup, stevia, or no sugar added jam.
  • Other healthy add-ins can include greek yogurt which will add more protein and calcium to your breakfast while also increasing the volume and thickness of the oats or pumpkin puree which is packed with the antioxidant beta-carotene and Vitamin A!
  • Finally, give everything a good stir or add ingredients layer by layer starting with the oats, liquid, then add-ins and place in your refrigerator overnight!

Now, of course, if you have more time in the morning, you can opt to cook oats on the stove or in your microwave, but making overnight oats is an excellent breakfast option when crunched for time in the mornings or for when you simply don’t want to make breakfast!

Bon appétit!



Nutrition and healthy eating. (2012). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/fiber/ART-20043983?p=1

Healthy benefits of Oatmeal. (2015). Dairy Council of California. Retrieved from: http://www.healthyeating.org/Healthy-Eating/All-Star-Foods/Grains/Article-Viewer/Article/208/Health-Benefits-of-Oatmeal.aspx

From Hectic to Healthy: How to jump start your day in a healthy way!

With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easy to put our own health on the backburner when our days are filled with long hours at work, cramming for exams, lengthy commutes, driving your kids to and from extracurricular activities; the list can go on and on. Whatever the case may be, sometimes the last thing we want to do is fit in time for healthy eating right? Well, what if I told you that eating healthy CAN fit into your hectic day-to-day life by making just a few EASY and MANAGEABLE tweaks to jumpstart your day.


          I think the biggest issue is the lack of time in the morning.   We don’t want to lose any more precious minutes of sleep than we have to, so it can be easy to opt for convenience breakfast food items in the morning. One way to change this habit is to take the time the night before to have your breakfast already made for you in the morning to just grab and go! A few easy and delicious suggestions include:

  • Overnight oats: this may be one of my favorites. The flavor combinations are endless and it’s so simple and easy to make. Store in your fridge overnight and simply reheat in the morning! A simple google search can lead you to many overnight oat recipes!
  • Smoothies: have the ingredients lain out and readily available for you, so that in the AM all you have to do is dump it in your blender and go. You can even take a few extra minutes and put together a few frozen bags of smoothie ingredients to have in your freezer for mornings when you want a smoothie for breakfast.   Prepping your own pre-made smoothie bags can also save you money! Great suggestions for ingredients in your smoothies include a combination of protein (i.e. greek yogurt, milk) carbohydrates (i.e. fruit like bananas or berries), and healthy fats (i.e peanut or almond butters).
  • Hardboiled eggs: have some hardboiled eggs made and stored in your fridge to grab in the morning paired with a side of toast and fruit!
  • DIY Breakfast Sandwich: put together a sandwich the night before using a whole wheat English muffin or toast, an egg, and slice of cheese and there you have yourself a hearty, satisfying breakfast!

And there you have it! A few simple, quick breakfast ideas to kick start your day in a healthy way!