According to the latest guidelines, you should get nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day for optimal health, but many people are fortunate to get three or four. Some people eat fruit but are less enthusiastic about eating vegetables, possibly because they remember well-meaning parents trying to force them to finish their broccoli. Others simply don’t like the taste of veggies and even when they do, they rarely give them top priority when planning their diet.
This is unfortunate since vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and cell-protective antioxidants. They’re also low in calories and high in fiber. This makes them the perfect food for people trying to lose weight. Fortunately, there are ways to painlessly add more vegetables to your plate even if you don’t enjoy the way they taste. Here are seven simple ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet.
Hide veggies in a smoothie
If you sip a breakfast smoothie in the morning or as a mid-morning pick-me-up, turn it into a green smoothie by adding spinach or kale to your “breakfast in a glass.” Blend the following ingredients together in your blender for a low-calorie smoothie with antioxidant-power:
One cup sugar-free almond milk like Almond Breeze
One frozen banana
½ of an apple
2 cups chopped kale or spinach leaves
For added sweetness, add a little Stevia
Dip your vegetables
Dunk raw or lightly steamed vegetables into a tasty dip to give them more taste appeal. Healthy dip choices are guacamole sauce (avocado is a good source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats), hummus, tzatziki sauce or fresh salsa. Make them yourself or buy them ready-made at grocery stores or your local natural food market.
Hide veggies in other foods
Add fresh or frozen veggies to foods you prepare at home. Put steamed broccoli florets, spinach and roasted pepper on pizza, and add frozen vegetables to soups. Add a slice of avocado, sliced cucumbers and tomato to your next sandwich. Skip the iceberg lettuce, and top your sandwich with a dark, green leafy vegetable like spinach. Order a veggie burger instead of a meat burger or other “meaty” sandwich.
When you make mashed potatoes, substitute mashed cauliflower for a portion of the potato. This has the added benefit of reducing the carb content too. You can even add pureed squash to brownie and cookie recipes. Instead of making a cake, make zucchini quick bread for more “stealth” vegetables.
When you roast vegetables, it caramelizes their natural sugars and brings out their flavor. To do this, chop fresh vegetables into smaller pieces and spray them lightly with olive oil. Then spray a piece of aluminum foil with canola or olive oil. Place the veggies on the foil and into a preheated 400-degree Fahrenheit oven. Roast them for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing them with a spatula half-way through. Veggies never tasted so sweet and flavorful!
Turn them into chips
Potato chips you buy at the grocery store are short on nutritional value, but you can make your own out of one of the healthiest veggies on earth – fresh kale. Simply clean and de-stem kale leaves. Then spray them lightly with canola or olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and your favorite herbs. Bake in a 400-degree Fahrenheit oven for ten minutes until they’re crisp.
You’ll be more likely to meet your vegetable quota for the day if you start early. Instead of eating eggs in the morning, turn your eggs into a veggie omelet and serve it with salsa. Skip your morning cup of orange juice, and sip a cup of low-sodium vegetable juice instead. Add a little pureed sweet potato to a hot bowl of oatmeal. Sweet potatoes are loaded with natural carotenoids that protect against cataracts and macular degeneration of the eyes.
Choose veggies as a side-dish when you eat out
Skip the starchy side dishes, and ask if the restaurant can prepare sides of vegetables for you. Restaurants often have veggies they can make even if they’re not listed on the menu. If not, order a salad.
Be a veggie detective
For good health, be on the lookout for ways to add more vegetables to everything you eat, and it won’t be so hard meeting your veggie quota after all.