by Patty James
Why should you and your family love veggies and eat more of them? For starters, vegetables contain high amounts of water and are hydrating. Vegetables contain necessary vitamins and minerals as well as important phytonutrients that provide support for proper function and protection to the cells in our bodies.
Most Americans, children included, are woefully shy of the proper intake of dietary fiber needed for proper bowel function and good health, and vegetables are an excellent way to add more fiber to your diet. Besides all of these health reasons, vegetables are delicious! Remember, no one likes mushy veggies, so don’t overcook. Here are some easy tips to add more veggies to every meal of the day.
- In a bit of olive oil, sauté onions, peppers, zucchini and garlic for a few minutes and then add eggs or tofu and spinach leaves for a healthier scramble.
- Add cubed pumpkin or butternut squash to your morning hot cereal; pureed pumpkin is fine as well. Sprinkle with nuts, seeds and cinnamon.
- Add a handful of leafy greens to your morning smoothie.
- Cooked chopped kale, peppers and onions in some water in a saucepan and after it’s softened, crack an egg in the center. Cover to poach the egg until it is done to your liking.
- Add shredded zucchini to your next muffin recipe.
- Add pureed pumpkin or other winter squash to your pancake batter in lieu of some of the fat. Less fat, more veggies!
- On your next sandwich or wrap, add some grated carrots and zucchini, sprouts and lettuce—all of them, not just one of them.
- Add pureed peas to your next guacamole recipe.
- Steam the stems of the broccoli, puree and add to hummus or guacamole. Brocomoli!
- Add grated carrots and slices of cooked butternut squash to your next grilled-cheese sandwich.
- Add minced red peppers, celery, red onion and shredded carrots to your next tuna salad recipe.
- A big green salad for lunch is an easy way to add more veggies to your life. Go light on the high-fat salad dressing.
- Add some spinach leaves to your homemade hummus or place store-bought hummus in your blender and add spinach leaves yourself.
- For a snack try sliced jicama with salsa. Also good is jicama rubbed with lime juice and sprinkled with chili powder.
- On Sundays and Wednesdays, slice/chop carrots, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and any and all other seasonal vegetables. If they’re easy to grab, you’ll eat them!
- Start your meal with veggie slices as an appetizer. Try cutting the carrot sticks into little rounds instead of slices, red peppers into squares, etc. It’s a fun little change that kids especially like. Serve with your favorite dip if you like.
- Try to have half of your dinner plate as veggies; some cooked, some raw.
- Marinara sauce used for pasta or pizza is an easy way to add more veggies: shredded zucchini, finely chopped broccoli, chopped spinach leaves, red peppers, onions and garlic.
- Add peas, chopped broccoli and grated carrots to your next macaroni and cheese recipe.
- A meat loaf is an easy way to add more veggies to your life. Finely chop and add red pepper, onions, celery, carrots and any other favorite veggie.
- Next time you make a pot roast or stew think: veggies and pot roast, not pot toast and veggies. Ditto for stews; heavy on the veggies, light on the meat.
Vegetables have a high nutrient to calorie ratio, just what we all need for optimum health and to maintain proper weight. It’s not difficult to add more veggies to your diet. Remember, think about veggies at every meal. Start today to incorporate more vegetables into your life, a handful at a time.
Patty James is a certified natural chef with a master’s degree in holistic nutrition. She founded the Patty James Cooking School and Nutrition Center, the first certified organic cooking school in the country. James also runs Shine the Light on America’s Kids, an organization that educates children on how to live a healthy lifestyle. She is the author of More Vegetables, Please! For more information, visit PattyJames.com.