The following guest post was written for our blog by Anita Fernandes. Anita Fernandes has been writing extensively on health and wellness for over a decade. She has expertise in nutrition, fitness, public health, and weight loss and has contributed content to a variety of leading digital health publishers. Anita has a unique perspective on healthy living and lifestyle, as she has battled and overcome eating disorders and obesity. She shares her experiences in an effort to help others overcome the physical and mental health problems that can sometimes seem insurmountable.
Vegetables are high in minerals and vitamins which is why they are an important part of our diet. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get enough veggies in our regular diet. In fact, according to a CDC report, about 90% of Americans don’t meet the intake recommendations for vegetables. You don’t need to switch to a vegetarian diet to meet your requirements and you don’t even need to make huge changes to your diet. There are several simple ways in which you can increase your vegetable consumption.
10 tips to increase your vegetable consumption
1. Start your day with a tall glass of green juice
Kick start your day with a glass of green juice made from spinach, parsley and cucumber. If possible, add fresh wheatgrass to your green juice recipe as research shows that has strong antioxidant properties. You can use green apple as a natural sweetener for green juices as it will balance out any bitterness from your greens.
2. Swap your morning sunny-side up egg for a veggie omelet
From sun dried tomatoes and bell peppers to spinach, kale, and avocado there are a lot of veggies that you can add to your morning omelet. These veggies are a good source of vitamins and minerals and they are also a great source of antioxidants. Although the dietary role of antioxidants is not fully understood, we do know that they help to prevent damage to DNA, which might help to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
3. Prepare Savory Oatmeal instead of sweet
Oats are among the most popular breakfast cereals as they are quick to prepare and offer a range of health benefits. Most people add sugar and fruits to their daily bowl of oats but savory oatmeal could be a healthier option. You can add veggies such as carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes and leafy greens (spinach or arugula) to your savory oatmeal to up the nutritional content of your breakfast.
4. Tweak your favorite recipes to include more veggies
One of the simplest ways to increase your vegetable consumption is to tweak your favorite recipes to include more veggies. You can add chopped veggies to almost any dish from gravies to burgers and even lasagna.
5. Have a salad before every meal
Salads are a great way to introduce more veggies into your diet. Salad greens are high in nutrition and fiber but low in calories which makes them ideal if you’re trying to lose weight. You can also add parsley, cilantro and basil in your salads as they are among the healthiest herbs, rich in several minerals and vitamins.
6. Make Veggie-Based Soups
There are few foods as wholesome and comforting as the humble soup. You can use a slow cooker to prepare your soup so that you can come home from a long workday to a bowl of hot soup. With the flu season just around the corner, you might want to add some garlic, ginger and onion to your soup as this may help to reduce your risk of getting the flu.
7. Swap your mid-day snack for hummus with veggies
Most people have cookies, biscuits or chips as their mid-day snack but this can be an unhealthy habit in the long run. Instead, you can enjoy hummus with carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini or any of your favorite salad greens as this makes a delicious and satisfying snack.
8. Swap regular noodles for veggie noodles
Use a spiralizer to turn your veggies into pasta-like strands that you can use instead of your regular noodles. Some of the easiest veggies to use in a spiralizer are zucchini, carrots, sweet potato and bell peppers. Veggie noodles is also a great option for those looking to cut back on their carb intake.
9. Use mixed veggie puree when making sauces
Some people don’t like the taste and texture of veggies. A simple way to overcome this problem is to make a mixed vegetable puree and add it to your sauces. For instance, you can blend steamed carrots, celery stalks and zucchini and add the puree to your regular marinara sauce before ladling it over your spaghetti.
10. Use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas to make wraps
Lettuce wraps are a great way to enjoy wraps without having to worry about your carb intake. Green leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, and iceberg lettuce are some of the best varieties of lettuce to use in your lettuce wraps. Lettuce wraps are ideal for those on a keto or gluten free diet.
Don’t try to use just one method to increase your vegetable consumption, instead use several methods as this will ensure that you meet your requirements. Make these dietary changes permanent to ensure that you get the nutrition you require to remain healthy and stave off illness. Instead of sticking with your favorites, opt for a variety of veggies as this will provide you with a wider range of nutrients.