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Happy, Healthy Kitchen – More Vegetables Please

Happy, Healthy Kitchen – More Vegetables Please

Most of us are looking to improve on what we did last year by implementing better habits this year. Whether to reach our weight loss goals or to have a healthier lifestyle, eating more vegetables is always a good idea. Eating vegetables every day is important for our health. They provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, such as antioxidants and fiber. Research has consistently shown that people who eat the most vegetables have the lowest risk of many diseases, including cancer and heart disease. What are some simple ways we can add more vegetables into our already busy lifestyle. Even if vegetables aren’t your first choice, it would be nice to find ways to sneak more vegetables into your everyday routine, right? I hope some of these tips are helpful.

Like me, you probably aim to eat more salads, but honestly, in the colder months it can be challenging to be in the mood for one. It has helped me to make a warm, savory salad by adding quinoa, sweet potatoes or roasted veggies. One of my tried and true ways to add more vegetables everyday, is to start my day with a big green smoothie. You can start off with milder tasting vegetables like spinach or even a spring lettuce mix, if you don’t like the taste of kale. I love to add parsley, cilantro or dandelion leaves in addition to my kale. My smoothies are a sure way for me to pack my blender with as many leafy vegetables as I can squeeze into it. And my body loves the way all those healthy greens feel. When I have time, I like to make a fresh green juice. It is always a special treat for your body, when you order a fresh juice at a health food store, instead of your usual coffee. I am a lover of all soups, and when cooking them, I pack each one with as many vegetables as I can. When I make homemade sauces or stews, again, I make a point to add extra vegetables. I like to have extra cucumber, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots in the fridge for afternoon snacking.

You might be thinking, all that sounds great, but I don’t have any extra time. I have had this exact conversation with lots of busy friends and family. The advice I give every time is this. Do what you can. Baby steps. Keep it simple. Buy prewashed and precut vegetables and greens. One of the easiest and fastest beginner smoothie recipes I have given many busy friends is: one banana, one bag of pre-washed spinach and one cup of frozen blueberries, add water and blend. Start to finish is three minutes at most. The positive results reported back to me from different families have far outweighed the effort. Not only did they start to feel fantastic but over time as their taste buds adjust they can add more vegetables and less fruit. One mom gave this to her two school age children in the mornings and noticed they were not getting as sick as they used to. How about adding some fresh arugula or spinach to the bottom of your bowl of chili or stew. The greens will wilt with the heat of your food. Here is another hack I learned: Add handfuls of fresh spinach to your pot for the last remaining two or three minutes while boiling pasta. When you drain the pasta you will have the already cooked spinach included as well. I have even done this with frozen peas or broccoli. As a side note, I learned that for optimum digestion, start every cooked meal with a few raw vegetables first. Think celery or carrot sticks or small salad. One of my best friends finally realized she didn’t have the time to cut up vegetables for her family everyday. She would buy the raw vegetable and dip platters from her store and serve that before dinnertime. She combined that with some easy frozen options with dinner. She felt good because her family got in a few extra servings of vegetables that way.

The key is to find what works best for you and your family. Whatever your strategy is, I hope it is your aim to get more servings of vegetables in everyday.

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