Even for those who like myself enjoy eating veggies, it can be a challenge to eat the recommended servings each day. Some find it inconvenient to eat vegetables regularly, while others are simply unsure how to prepare them in an appetizing way.
And when our mind and body crave a creamy, hearty pasta dish or a sandwich, it’s tough to ignore the cravings and opt for sautéed or raw veggies instead. In this blog post, I will share my own experience with adding more servings of vegetables to my diet and I will tell you how easy it is to have the best of both worlds! Based on my approach to healing the digestive tract and building a healthy relationship with food, you really don’t have to give up the foods you love.
I’m sure if you have landed on my website you already know that including nutrient and antioxidant-rich vegetables in your meals is extremely important. My question has always been how and what are the best ways to add more vegetables to the diet daily.
Here are my 6 favorite (sneaky) and unique ways to incorporate veggies into any meal to boost your immunity and allow your body fight of disease:
1.Blend Veggies Into Smoothies
Add greens to smoothies for a refreshing breakfast or snack. Green smoothies in particular are very popular for hiding a handful of dark leafy vegetables like spinach or kale in one serving.
Just 1 loosely packed cup (25 grams) of spinach contains more than a full day’s recommended amount of vitamin K and half of the recommended amount of vitamin A. The same serving of kale also provides high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, and lots of vitamin K. check the updated Clean 15 & Dirty Dozen List Here.
Carrots are another excellent source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant your body converts to vitamin A. But you don’t need to chew raw carrots all day to take advantage of their nutrients. If you don’t have a juicer at home or the time to make preservative vegetable juice, simply grate carrots to fit into any smoothie. Bonus: This way, you use all parts of the veggie, and none of the fiber is lost from the juicing process.
In addition, frozen zucchini, cauliflower, pumpkin, beets, avocado, and sweet potatoes work well blended into smoothies. I’ve recently been trying to add some broccoli to my green smoothies.
2.Make Veggie Omelets
Omelets and Frittatas are an easy and versatile way to add veggies into your meal plan as well. Plus, eggs add lots of protein and choline too. Mix eggs with veggies for a healthy and hearty breakfast. You get bonus points if you make enough to munch on all week!
for example, you can add minced broccoli or cauliflower to scrambled eggs. This veggie addition doesn’t change the texture of the eggs. Plus, it squeezes in an entire serving (at least) of green veggies. The cruciferous vegetables add lots of vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Cook up some beaten eggs with a small amount of butter or oil in a pan, and then fold them around a filling that can include: only vegetables, or a combination of cheese and veggies if you consume dairy.
Any type of veggie tastes great in omelets and you can really load them up with seasonal veggies for lots of nutrition. Spinach, onions, scallions, asparagus, bok choy, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes are common additions.
3. Make Beautiful Sandwiches
Using lettuce or bigger spinach leaves and more nutrient-dense collard greens and swiss chards as a wrap or tortillas and bread is another easy way to eat more leafy veggies. Just blanch the greens and pat them dry before wrapping. Additionally, many types of veggies, such as Portobello mushroom caps, sliced sweet potatoes or halved red and yellow peppers can make buns as well.
But a much easier way to incorporate more vegetables in your sandwich, which I practice daily is to add a side of big salad made with any type of greens you have on hand to each and every meal of the day. This way you’ll also benefit from my crowding out method, which is basically satiating your hunger with more vegetables and greens and leaving little room for the bun, bagel croissant etc.
If you are a fan of grilled cheese sandwiches, I highly recommend bumping up the health content, by adding in a few layers of veggies. Spinach, tomato, and avocado add iron, lycopene, and healthy unsaturated fats into the melted cheese between two slices of bread which originally lacks most nutrients.
4.Make a Habit of Vegetarian Quesadillas
You can always replace the classic chicken-and-cheese variety with veggies like sautéed eggplants, zucchini, mushroom, red and green peppers, asparagus, onions, and spinach. Try even adding some black beans for more fiber. Cutting the amount of cheese in half and filling your quesadilla with more vegetables is a great place to start.
5.Grill Veggie Kebabs
Veggie kebabs pack lots of flavor and nutrients. To make them, place chopped vegetables of your choice on a skewer and cook in an oven or on a grill or barbecue. Bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes work well for kebabs. The trick to these skewers is to use a nice marinade or sauce. I use basic olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper and sometimes after they are cooked I add spices and herbs like smoked paprika, pinch of cayenne, oregano, dried parsley or basil.
6. Love The Nourishing Stews and Soups
My last and favorite way to eat more servings of veggies throughout the day is to cook them into stews and soups. You can add, leeks, carrots, celery, broccoli stems, peppers, squash, beans or potato to pretty much any kind of soup. It will make for a thicker soup while sneaking in some extra veggies.
Making sure I eat around 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables daily has been a gamechanger for my gut health personally, but don’t worry you don’t have to start eating 8 servings of vegetables right away! For those with gut issues, sometimes, adding enough vegetables regularly will make a dramatic shift in their digestion and other symptoms. However, we are not here to overwhelm your digestive system and as always, we take one step at a time toward building a new habit.
If you are someone who is not consuming anywhere near this amount with your meals I encourage you to start incorporating one or two new vegetables to your grocery list each month as much as possible. We all need to start from somewhere but be sure that your digestive system will thank you in the long run for introducing a bigger variety of vegetables to it.
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