As a kid, we all heard the same phrase over and over and……over: Eat your vegetables! Ever since then, there may be some veggies that are hard to ‘swallow’ like cauliflower, peas or spinach. But if you knew that cauliflower gives you 3 grams of fiber, peas gives you 9 grams of fiber and spinach offers 4 grams of fiber (all per cup), would you still have a hard time fitting them into your meals? Use these strategies to add them to your plan on a daily basis (without even trying hard!):
1. What are your favorite dishes? Spaghetti? Grilled chicken with rice? Or maybe a sandwich for lunch? Veggies are just BEGGING to be added to these dishes! Broccoli offers 9 grams of fiber AND 7 grams of protein in 1 stalk! Add it to anything you can and at anytime. It goes great with rice, pasta, chicken and MANY other foods that you know and love. You (and your kids) will barely notice the difference in taste, and your heart will love you for it.
2. Think veggie variety when you make your next salad. Are you mostly concerned with the dressing and croutons that go on top of your salad? Have a veggie party instead! ANY vegetable is game in a salad, as long as you like it. Add peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, onions….take your pick. What an opportunity to have a great big salad filled with fresh vegetables! Limit the amount of dressing to one or two tablespoons, make your own croutons with oven-toasted wheat bread instead of using the typical store bought, processed type, and add just a small amount of cheese to be sure to reap all the benefits of the fresh veggies.
3. Drink your veggies. If you are finding it hard to include 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day as is recommended by the USDA, then juicing may be an option for you. You may initially invest $50 or more on the juicer, but if you use it consistently, over time you will reap your initial investment plus an invaluable reward for your health. Juicing will allow you to consume any kind of vegetable you want in a short amount of time with no cooking involved.
4. With the weather warming up, you may find yourself using the grill more often. What a perfect time to throw on sliced zucchini, mushrooms, or asparagus spears! Brush the veggies with olive or canola oil, a dab of light Italian dressing and get ready to have your taste buds tantalized. Or maybe you would find vegetables more appealing kabob style. Whatever your preference, go for it! Try them dipped in a light sauce or dressing to make them even more interesting.
Eating enough fresh vegetables is a challenge for most of us with busy lifestyles who have little time for cooking, and stubborn taste buds that don’t crave the oftentimes bitter taste of vegetables. Training yourself to eat enough vegetables throughout the day is challenging, but feasible. Start small by adding more veggies at lunchtime (lettuce and tomatoes on a sandwich), and dinner (broccoli and tomatoes are great on just about any dish). Make it your personal goal this week to eat more with each meal; your mom (and your body!) will love you for it!
Have a healthy week!