Vegetables are a crucial part of a healthy diet. Not only do they provide many of the nutrients you need, but they also help to keep you full between meals thanks to their fiber content. Below are some simple tips on how to eat more vegetables.
The problem is that most people don’t eat enough vegetables each day – or any at all! Even vegans can find it hard to eat the daily requirements of veggies, sticking mostly to starches and processed food as the main part of their diet.
Fortunately, there are some simple ways to increase vegetable intake without eating salads for every meal. Here are five easy tips on how to get more vegetables into your diet:
Baby carrots as a snack
This first one is obvious, but sometimes we need a reminder. Put away your processed snack and fall in love with these nutritious pops of raw food.
At just 40 calories for a cup, baby carrots make an excellent low-calorie snack. You can buy them already washed and ready to go, so all you have to do is open up the bag and grab a handful every time you feel hungry. After eating your baby carrots, you may want to move on to other low-calorie snacks like celery sticks (14 calories per cup) or cherry tomatoes (25 calories each).
A tip is to buy baby carrots with ranch dressing for an easy dipping snack that will also increase your vegetable intake. You can even dip your celery or cherry tomatoes in ranch if you feel so inclined. Or switch things up with your favorite healthy sauces.
Add veggies to pasta dishes
Pasta with red sauce is a classic dish, but it’s also very high in sugar and therefore not so great for people who are trying to lose weight or watch their blood sugar levels. Luckily, there are ways to still enjoy this favorite.
One way to lower the amount of pasta consumed is to add vegetables to your pasta dishes. Try sautéing chopped kale in a little olive oil and garlic until it’s tender (this should take about five minutes). Then mix it into red sauce pasta along with mushrooms and onions.
You can also experiment with other sauces such as pesto or alfredo. This easy addition will increase your vegetable intake while still allowing for that creamy texture and rich flavor you love. Every bite will be bursting with nutrients and added flavor!
Don’t stop at pasta. The next time you make a lentil stew or casserole dish, sneak some extra veggies in for a unique flavor and more nutrients.
Use veggies as pasta
How about switching out the pasta altogether? Get yourself a spiralizer or a julienne peeler to turn your vegetables into noodles. You can use carrots, zucchini, cucumber, sweet potato, butternut squash, chayotes, and pretty much any other firm vegetable you can think of!
These faux noodles are really good for you because they’re very low in calories while still being filling. They also contain lots of nutrients found in vegetables like potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.
Use the spiralizer to make long thin strands that resemble spaghetti. Saute these lightly and add sauce as desired or make a sandwich with garlic bread for a delicious and more nutrient-filled lunch. The julienne peeler can be used to make linguine-shaped strips that will be tender enough to eat raw or with a sauce or dip.
If you don’t have either of these things, you can also use your food processor to slice vegetables very thinly so they look like noodles. Either way is great for upping your vegetable intake while still enjoying your favorite pasta sauce.
Buy frozen veggies in bulk
Fresh vegetables are obviously the best choice since they’re full of nutrients and will be more flavorful than their frozen counterparts. Unfortunately, fresh produce can be hard to find when it’s not in season or hard to get in your region.
The good news is that you can buy tons of cheap frozen vegetables without any bad chemicals or additives. Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh, if not even more so since they are picked at peak ripeness and then flash-frozen immediately to preserve their nutrients. On the other hand, fresh veggies are often picked before they have ripened fully to endure the long haul from farm to your grocery store shelves.
To save money, buy your frozen veggies in bulk at a wholesale store like Costco. Then put them all into smaller portions in Ziploc bags and stick these smaller portions into the freezer for later use.
Some good choices include peas and carrots and spinach and kale – any vegetables that can be boiled or steamed will work well as a side dish or tossed into soups and stews. So easy, so convenient, so delicious.
Experiment with ditching heavy sauces for healthy ones
Using creamy sauces such as ranch on salads is is delicious but packs on calories quickly. Most sauces are either high in fat or high in sugar, so you have to watch out for them.
One good way to save calories without sacrificing taste is to puree your favorite veggies with salt, pepper, and olive oil to make a sauce! For example, if you boil some pumpkin and then puree it with a bit of olive oil, garlic, onion, and your favorite spices, you’ll end up with a very tasty sauce that’s worth eating on its own.
It’s even better if you mix your sauce of choice into plain vegan yogurt to make it creamy and tangy. This works especially well with cucumber and dill – the taste is classic and delicious! If you want something more adventurous, try adding kale or spinach to make new flavors come alive in your mouth.
Remember: the best way to be healthy is to make sure absolutely everything you eat tastes amazing!
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