If your mother is anything like mine, you’ve been told hundreds of time to eat your vegetables. When I was young I wasn’t allowed to get up from the table until all of my broccoli was gone. And yes, I have always been taught the various health benefits of “eating the rainbow”. Unfortunately, eating vegetables isn’t something that comes easily when you are busy.
Here are five tricks I use to easily sneak vegetables into my diet.
ALWAYS have sliced and diced veggies on hand. I like to do this right when I get home from the store so that I don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week. Why take time out of your day to do this?
- Making a salad is MUCH easier. You can simply put your sliced veggies over spinach or kale and add leftover protein for a quick lunch or side dish.
- They can be added to scrambled eggs or an omelet when you have a busy morning.
- My newest obsession: add a handful of diced spinach, onion, or mushrooms to hamburger meat for a “stuffed burger”.
Having veggies prepared makes adding them to meals thoughtless. It is also much more enticing to grab sliced zucchini, carrot sticks, or bell pepper slices for a snack at work or in the car.
Make smoothies! Smoothies make you forget you’re even consuming something that was once a plant. Along with your fruit and liquid, consider adding 1 cup of your favorite veggies. Carrots add sweetness to the treat. Spinach may turn your drink green, but adds little flavor and is packed with nutrients. Be careful, though! Not all vegetables can be added to smoothies (this was learned the hard way). Stay away from bell peppers, zucchini, and cauliflower.
Replace your morning toast with sweet potato toast. This may be my new breakfast staple. (Learn how to prepare sweet potato toast here.) I like to slice a sweet potato at the beginning of the week and top it with almond butter, mashed avocado, or an egg each morning. Make sure to store the potato slices in a sealed container so they stay good all week!
Swap other grains for veggies! I love making things like riced cauliflower for stir fry, zucchini noodles for spaghetti, and a cabbage or lettuce wrap for taco shells. (You can see practical uses for some of these grain-free dishes here.)
It may take a few tries before your family jumps on board, so start by using half of the grain and half of the substitute. (I once tricked a family friend into eating cauliflower for the first time by putting it in mashed potatoes).
Using lettuce as a taco shell or bun is also a great tip for when you are on the road. Jimmy John’s can turn any sandwich into an “unwich”, where they replace the bread with a large lettuce wrap. Hardee’s will do the same with any of their hamburgers.
Make it a point to keep track of how many veggies you are eating each day. I strive for 4-6 servings of vegetables each day. To make sure I am hitting this target, I keep track in my phone once a week. If I don’t hit my goal, I brainstorm ways that I can achieve it the next day.
Do you have any other tricks for getting in your veggies each day?