6 Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables
It’s a foundation of a healthy diet. Eat more vegetables! I advise nearly all of my patients to eat more vegetables. Imagine that you’re sitting around a big table of food with 9 of your friends and relatives. Of the 10 of you, who’s eating their veggies? According to the CDC, only 1 in 10 adults eats the recommended 2 – 3 cup of vegetables daily. Are you that 1?
My goal is to show you just how easy it is to eat more vegetables.
Tip #1: Add vegetables to the foods you’re already eating
- Making a sandwich? Stuff it like it’s a salad between two slices of bread! Add tomato, spinach leaves, onions, cucumber, bell pepper, even jarred artichoke hearts and leftover roasted vegetables. You can still include the meats and cheeses, smother them with veggies.
- Pasta salad or potato salad? Dilute these starchy and other favorite starchy vegetables with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli florets, baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes, red onions, carrots and more. Check out Veggie-Stuffed Potato Salad and Bean and Barley Salad.
- Soup? Add some frozen or canned veggies to the pot.
- Eggs? Try a veggie omelet. For something even simpler, pour your favorite salsa over scrambled eggs.
- Casseroles? Add diced cauliflower, broccoli or tomatoes to lasagna or mac and cheese. Here’s one way that I veggie-up my macaroni and cheese.
- Spaghetti sauce? Saute onions and mushrooms with your browned meat. Simmer zucchini, eggplant or green beans along with your sauce. I give a more detailed recipe for this in Prediabetes: A Complete Guide.
- Meatballs or meatloaf? Add shredded carrots or summer squash to ground meat before shaping.
Tip #2: Seek out veggie-focused recipes
Try out this delicious and fun-to-eat personal pizza stuffed portobello mushroom.
You can make this in any number of ways to suit your own tastes. Feel free to use your favorite pizza toppings. The mushrooms in the photo were filled with Trader Joe’s brushetta and Trader Joe’s mozzarella balls. Then I sprinkled them with reduced-fat cheddar and some fresh basil and parsley. And they were DELICIOUS!
- Large or medium-sized portobello mushrooms
- Tomato bruchetta or jarred spaghetti sauce
- Fresh or dried herbs or a combination of both
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove the stems from the mushrooms. Scrape the gills out with a spoon. Gently wash the mushrooms and pat dry.
- Place each mushroom on a rack inside a roasting pan. Fill with your choice of tomato sauce or brushetta and cheese. Sprinkle with dried oregano or other herbs if desired.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the mushroom is softened and the cheese is well melted. If desired, sprinkle with fresh basil or other herbs after removing from the oven.
- Category: Main dish or side dish
Tip #3: Double up on whatever you have on hand
Tip #4: Plan for leftovers
I always cook enough vegetables at dinner to have some leftover for lunch the next day.
Tip #5: Cook ahead
Tip #6: Buy the right amount
If you live alone or with someone who doesn’t share your love of vegetables, get more variety without buying more than you can eat by visiting a salad bar. Pick up just enough shredded carrots, cauliflower florets, cherry tomatoes, etc. Use them in all types of recipes – salads, casseroles, sandwiches and more. And stock frozen vegetables, so you can cook up just the amount you need and return the package to the freezer.
I know that there are lots more easy, delicious ways to eat more vegetables. Please share your tips.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.
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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.