We all know it is important to eat our veggies, but for some of us this is a dreaded task, especially when we are surrounded by much more tempting options. For those of you who are looking to increase wellness through food options, veggies are a must. These foods are packed with vitamins and micronutrients, are high in fibre and have been proven to decrease risk of disease and all-cause mortality. We should aim for a minimum of 7 servings of good quality veggies and fruits in our day, which again, may sound daunting, but have no fear, I have some quick tips to share with you to not only increase our veggie intake but to get us excited to eat them!
First off, buy more veggies:
The more veggies you have around you, the more you will eat. It’s simple, we are all busy people who don’t always have the time or patience to make an elaborate meal, healthy or not. Therefore, if we have some veggie snacks sitting in our fridge, we will be more likely to grab them to eat. Even if there are good intentions to eat veggies, but the only available snacks are the box of cookies in your cupboard, I’m going to guess you would be more likely to choose the cookies in a rush instead of going out to get a healthy snack. The same goes for when making a meal, if your fridge is full of veggies, you are more likely to incorporate them into your food than if you didn’t have them and had to go get them from somewhere. So, buy more veggies, surround yourself with them and I bet just by convenience it will increase your intake.
Once you have veggies available, the next step is to have them easy to use. This is why I love meal prep. This doesn’t have to be a 6-hour ordeal where you prepare every meal for the week. Just make some ready-to-go snacks and prepare your veggies to add into meals easily.
Cut up some veggies (celery, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, peppers etc.) and place in a container with some water in the bottom and stick in the fridge on Sunday night. Then throughout the week you will have them ready to grab as a snack or to add to lunches for you or your kids.
Preparing vegetables for dinners also is helpful in getting your veggie numbers up and saves lots of time! I love my spiralizer and use this to make zoodles (zucchini noodles) which are a great substitute for pasta dishes. I also like to dice root vegetables and let them sit with some olive oil in the fridge. Just have to roast them in the oven for a perfect side!
Salads are a very simple item to meal prep also. Even if you take the time to wash your lettuce or kale and place it in a Ziploc with some paper towel in the fridge it is handy.
I also like to find any veggies that seem to be getting towards their expiry and cut them up and stick in the freezer. This way you don’t waste your veggies and you always have some cleaned and cut up to add into soups, stir fries, sauces, pastas etc.
Add it into everyday recipes:
For those of you (or those with kids) who just can’t seem to find enough vegetables you like to eat on their own, good news- you can cheat. There are several ways to add in high vegetable quantities into everyday foods. Some great dishes that are easy to hide veggies in are: soups, chilli, curry, stir fry, pizza, sauces, stews, and smoothies. You can easily add about a cup of spinach to just about any smoothie without changing the taste at all. When you are making a chilli, soup or stew, depending on the type you’re making, you can blend up one or two types of veggies before adding it into the recipe. This is a great trick to increase the thickness of your soup, stew or chilli and increase the goodness in your meal without compromising the taste (especially good for a little one who dislikes vegetables). Choosing pizza toppings that include some veggies is a great way to make sure you’re always adding to your intake of these great foods even on days when this isn’t your main priority.
Lastly, get excited about it! There are many ways to broaden our everyday recipes, snacks and food options all while gaining these awesome benefits that veggies have to offer. Who knows, maybe after a while you'll even enjoy vegetables in your diet!