I have stated in my other articles that I am a teacher, and that I often ask my students about what they eat at home. It is truly alarming how little vegetables they get in their diet. They often complain of headaches and fatigue, and while I know the average teenager isn’t getting enough sleep, it is no secret that we could all run a little better with the right fuel.
Not only that, but have you ever noticed that children’s menus are always hot dogs, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, etc…? It is like they EXPECT children to not eat veggies… and then that pattern often continues into adulthood, where we find ourselves struggling to like or incorporate veggies into our diet…. and actually enjoy it. So whether this applies to you, or you are just looking for some ways on how to get more vegetables in your diet to boost your health, you have come to the right place!
Add them to your regular dishes
So many dishes we make can still be delicious with a few veggies added in. On weeks I am going to be busy, I like to prep a few casseroles that can easily be warmed up during the week. Take the meals shown: I made some rice and beans and included more veggies and less meat, and the meal was still very filling. I added some onions, red and green peppers and beans for what turned out to be a great meal!
I can no longer eat mac and cheese without veggies in it. It is too heavy for me! I saute up some garlic and onion, and steam some broccoli and throw it in with the cheese and pasta. I use whole wheat pasta and I make my own cheese sauce. You can leave the broccoli large like I do (I like being able to taste it), or you can cut them up smaller. Either way, you are getting in more nutrition than you would otherwise!
Pasta meals are really easy to add veggies to. My husband and son LOVE my creamy veggie pasta. I use tons of veggies, a little bit of cream, chicken or veggie broth and some aged cheese, and it becomes one of my signature dishes! See recipe here.
If you are feeling especially healthy, replace your crunchy or soft taco with lettuce…. or replace maybe just one of them with lettuce and still have one or two with a regular wrap. I often make taco lettuce wraps with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.
Cook them different ways
If you take any vegetable and boil it, save regular potatoes, I am probably not going to enjoy it. Most steamed veggies are not my favorite either. Put sweet potato mash in front of me and I simply won’t eat it.
Roast them in the oven, however, and a boring carrot, sweet potato or brussel sprout takes on a new life. Roasting allows them to caramelize and/or brown, giving them a much richer taste.
Sauteing them (in not too much oil) can also give your veggies a good texture and flavor, but it all depends on the veggie. I can never saute asparagus without them becoming soggy, but I love sauteed onions, mushrooms, spinach, collard greens and sweet peppers.
Experiment with different ways to cook your veggies. You may also find that you cook the same vegetable differently depending on the recipe. For example, I steam broccoli when I put them into mac and cheese but roast them when they are a stand alone side dish.
There isn’t just one way to cook veggies, and you might actually discover you like them if you try them a different way. Just make sure not to overcook them or they lose the nutritional value we’re aiming to get!
My honey thyme chicken with sauteed red cabbage and roasted cauliflower mash! Recipe here.
I can’t tell you how many times I talk to people, go to different functions, or watch shows only to realize how much people are missing one of the most fundamental aspects of cooking- SEASONING! Unless your understanding of seasoning only include salt, then seasoning is boring and kind of unhealthy! You are going to have to experiment with seasonings and find what you like. I have a very particular flavor profile that I use with most of my meals, which include things like garlic, paprika and chili powder, to name a few. At other times, I love rosemary and thyme (especially for potatoes). Don’t be afraid of seasonings! They are not bad for you and make eating vegetables a much more pleasurable experience. My friends often comment about how I can somehow “make vegetables taste good” and it usually has to do with the seasoning. (Paprika is the key to delicious roasted sweet potatoes!)
Season a meal right, and you may end up enjoying an entirely vegetarian dinner! Above is my sauteed collard greens, white beans with onions and garlic, and roasted butternut squash.
Okay, maybe not a juice cleanse, per se, unless you are up for that. Which I do recommend. Many juice cleanses are great for breaking our addictions to sugar and processed foods, repairing the body and helping you lose weight. I have written about the different kinds of juice cleanses you can do here.
If you aren’t up for a juice cleanse, you can always just juice. I like to juice a few times a week, especially when I feel like I really haven’t gotten enough veggies in my day or week. I notice a huge difference in how I feel in general, and it usually eliminates any headaches I get. It also does wonders for my digestion. In my article, “Healthy Juicing Recipes to Vamp Up Your Health and Diet,” I give the benefits of juicing, tips for juicing, and recipe ideas for different occasions.
Make a morning smoothie
It doesn’t have to be in the morning. You can make them anytime you would like. I like them in the morning because I am not an early bird, I teach all day and I need to start my day off right to be truly productive. There is just something great about starting your day off with a few servings of fruits and veggies, especially when it tastes good! I usually put a nice handful of spinach in my smoothie along with mixed berries and a few other ingredients, and it really doesn’t take much out of my morning to do so. I have a bunch of great smoothie ideas here.
If you put a little thought into it, you can incorporate more veggies into your diet and enjoy it to boot! If eating vegetables is completely foreign to you, these ideas may actually train your taste buds to not only like veggies, but begin to crave them.
Are there any ideas that stood out to you? What do you do to get in more veggies? Leave a comment below and share; we can go on this journey together!