You know you are supposed to get 5-10 per day, but sometimes your current veggie intake just isn’t high enough.
If you find yourself struggling to get enough vegetables into your regular diet, try one of these 5 easy ways to increase your intake:
Start with Breakfast
Start the day on the right foot by adding vegetables to your breakfast. You can opt for some of the traditional options, such as an omelet with spinach, tomato and zucchini, or you can get creative and adventurous and try something different: add grated zucchini to your porridge instead of just having oats, or make a smoothie using beetroot and kale for an energy, vegetable and antioxidant boost! You can also bake savory vegetable based muffins, or even have last night’s leftover vegetable soup! Regardless of what you choose, the outcome will be filling and healthy due to the increased nutritional content of the vegetables.
Add them into your Smoothie
Just like mentioned above, you can easily add vegetables into your daily smoothie or smoothie bowl. While spinach and kale are popular choices for the infamous green smoothie, there are lots of other options as well. Beetroot (cooked or raw) makes a great pre-or post workout smoothie addition due to its benefits for oxygen use within the body, while pumpkin or sweet potato are a great choice if you are looking to add extra creaminess. Frozen peas make a great add-in to keep your smoothie icy cold, and throw in some steamed cauliflower to get the health boost without affecting the smoothie flavor!
If your excuse for having a low intake of veggies in your diet is because they take too much time to prepare when you are in a hurry, commit to preparing them ahead of time! On a set day each week, or when you first come home from the grocery store with your fresh veggie haul, take 20 minutes and wash, peel and cut up veggies so they are ready to go for the next few days. Store them in a container in the fridge with a little bit of water so they don’t dry out, and put them on the shelf right at the front so you see them when you open the door. Doing this will make you more likely to go for them when you are hungry, as you’ll see them right there, ready and waiting!
Make a Swap
Instead of having an apple, try some carrot sticks. Instead of having mashed potatoes at dinner, try mashed pumpkin. Instead of reaching for a wrap or crackers to have with your hummus at lunch, try some mixed veggies! These are all examples of times when you can swap out something that you currently eat and opt to have vegetables instead. Plus, if they are already prepared (see above), it will make the swap even easier to pull off!
Add a Salad
Start adding a side salad to your dinner every night. It doesn’t have to be complicated or made with lots of ingredients, and in fact, you could totally have it be mostly greens. Drizzle it with lemon juice and balsamic vinegar and then toss in a little olive oil or some avocado. This combination will boost your vegetable intake, as well as offer you some healthy fats, without drastically increasing your calories through things like creamy dressings or unhealthy salad toppings!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH – Viand Nutrition