Let’s be honest, most of us didn’t grow up loving to eat our vegetables.
As a kid, I’m sure at one point or another, we all were bribed to eat whatever vegetables were on our plates in order to get a slice of dessert. Even now, I still don’t really have a soft spot for them.
However, the older I’m getting, the more I know how vital they are for my health and to keep my body at its optimal state.
Whether we love to snack on vegetables or just need a few motivators to get them in each day, we can all agree that getting a variety of fresh vegetables is good for your body all around. Each one gives its own unique blend of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even some offer antioxidants that aid in fighting off diseases and cancer.
We’ve been told that we need to get “at least five to seven servings” each day and while that’s a great number to shoot for – I think a good starting place is to aim to just get more than we currently are and work up from there.
Start small and add one more ½ cup serving each day until you reach where you and your body are comfortable.
A few different ways that I am able to keep my motivation up on getting all the benefits that vegetables have to offer are as follows:
- Don’t try to get them all at once! Space out your vegetable intake throughout the day so your body has time to process them and absorb all the good stuff. There’s no race to finish line.
- If getting a lot of vegetables each day intimidates you, think small and work up from there. Aim to include at least one serving of vegetables at each meal and snack time.
- Make associations with vegetables and other ingredients. If you like peanut butter or hummus, commit to eating it with celery or other raw veggie sticks instead of on bread or with crackers.
- Vary your color intake and eat one thing from each color of the rainbow daily. You can tell a lot about a vegetable based on its color and what nutrients it has to offer. Aim to get one veggie from each color of the rainbow and you’ll be getting many of the nutrients you need each day.
- Get into the habit of trying new vegetables. Not only will this open up your palate, but you will have more options when it comes to getting more in each day and can fend off getting bored by eating the same things over and over.
- Engage the family and your partner to make it fun to try new things. Allow each member of the family to choose a new vegetable to enjoy and try for the first time. Take turns each week or month by picking something out at the produce section and getting creative with how you can use it. Many vegetables can be simply cut up and sautéed, while others can easily find their way into salads, sauces, or as a component of a pasta dish.
One of the best ways to ensure you get all that vegetables have to offer into your body each day is by including at least one serving at every meal and snack time. Here are a few ideas for doing just that:
- Add veggies to omelets, frittatas, or create a hash from bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and spinach.
- Add a side salad to your regular lunch – it doesn’t have to be a green salad either! Mix up the base with shredded carrots or chopped broccoli instead of lettuce.
- Start dinner with a vegetable-based soup or salad. Not only will this help fill you up with good-for-you veggies, but it will temper your hunger so you don’t overeat the protein or carbs on your plate.
- Pack vegetable sticks as an on-the-go snack.
One of the best ways that I find getting my daily dose of vegetables is to include them in meals that I already enjoy – here are a few ways that you can sneak them in to foods you and your family are probably already eating:
- Layer on chopped vegetables as pizza toppings.
- Replace ½ of the dairy in a recipe for macaroni and cheese with pureed butternut squash or cauliflower.
- Add a handful of leafy greens to your fruit smoothies.
- Add chopped vegetables to pasta salad and stir-fries.
- Enjoy vegetarian chili instead of meat ones by swapping beans for meat in the recipes.
- Add shredded carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce.
- Replace pasta noodles with ribbons of zucchini.
- Add cauliflower to white sauces.
We can all benefit from adding just a few more vegetables to our daily diets. Whether you happily can snack on carrot sticks or need to sneak them in to your favorites, getting more veggies each day doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.
Once you get the hang of adding them slowly, you’ll start to notice your mood changing and your body thanking you for all the good stuff you’re giving it.
What’s your favorite way to add veggies to your diet? Share in the comments below!
Rachael is the blogger behind KitchenCourses.com and is the author of How to Cook For Yourself: A Complete Beginner’s Guide. She writes about her passion for food, eating well while saving money, and inspires people to get familiar with their kitchens and cook for themselves.