Hey, hey! Happy Wednesday! Today, I am sharing a few ways I’ve incorporated more veggies into my daily meals. This is a struggle with a capital S for me…I’ve never really liked veggies. When I was a kid, I remember staring at my salad bowl in disgust, willing it to disappear. I also distinctly recall trying to feed my poor dog veggies under the table, and when she sniffed them, but took a pass on eating them, I understood. They’re just not everyone’s thing.
When carrots and peppers are nice n’ crisp, perfectly sliced and accompanied with a good dip, I’ll go for it now, because I know it’s good for me. But, on a whole, my vegetable consumption is not ideal. The last few months, I’ve come up with some tricks to increase the amount of vegetables I eat daily and I thought I’d share them with you today!
Add vegetables to smoothies
I am starting off with my favorite way to consume veggies, that’s right, the way where I can’t even taste them. For years, I’ve added spinach and/or kale to my smoothies, so that’s nothing new for me, but if you don’t already, there’s an opportunity for those greens! A few months ago, I began adding riced cauliflower into my smoothies and/or post workout protein shakes and was pleased to find out if you add just a bit, the cauliflower doesn’t alter or ruin the smoothie’s taste.
You most definitely can go overboard, so tread lightly here. I usually add about 1/4 C (maybe a little more) and find that cauliflower rice is best accompanied with a banana in any smoothie concoction. After a surprisingly pleasant experience with cauliflower, I started thinking about other veggies I could blend in, and butternut squash popped into my head (it was fall and all things butternut squash/pumpkin were happening).
Butternut squash is a HELL YEAH in smoothies. It is SO tasty with banana, almond milk, almond butter, cinnamon, maybe a little vanilla protein powder, or collagen peptides for a protein boost.
You can get riced cauliflower at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Whole Foods also carries frozen riced cauliflower which I think would be even better in smoothies. Same goes for butternut squash- I buy frozen bags at Whole Foods and add the pieces into my smoothie at least once or twice a week.
One last idea, add in some carrots. I’ll throw shredded carrots in smoothies (think carrot cake smoothie: banana, carrot, cinnamon, vanilla protein powder OR vanilla yogurt, etc.) before the carrots go bad. Just make sure you have the proper blender to add in carrots.
Let’s review: Add spinach, kale (or other greens), butternut squash, riced cauliflower, and carrots into your smoothies (rotating them obviously) to pack in those nutrients. One final smoothie add-in option…avocado!
(Recipe for a butternut squash smoothie: here)
Dip it. Dip it real good.
I am not suggesting you flood your salads or veggies with Ranch dressing like we all did when we were kids… what I am suggesting, to eat more RAW veggies, is find yourself a damn good, high-quality dip that will help you enjoy the vegetables a bit more. My current favorite way to eat raw veggies is either with Kite Hill Chive Cream-Cheese Style Spread or hummus. Keep the spreads/hummus to a minimum, but if a little dip helps you eat a shiz ton more veggies, it’s worth it!
Be freaking sneaky
Anytime I’m making dinner or planning out dinners for the week, I try to think about how I can sneak more veggies in. Making meatballs? Cool, throw a little riced cauliflower in there. Making pasta? Nice, add some chopped up peppers, onions, and zucchini to the sauce. Tacos? You get the picture…chop up vegetables and add it into the meat. The point is, when you mix vegetables into something with a strong flavor (like taco seasoning), you can’t even really taste them.
Grill baby, grill
Okay, I think asparagus is just yuck. And that’s childish, I know. But if it’s seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper, and grilled, I can dig it. I also LOVE grilled onions,peppers, and eggplant. However, I really try to reserve grill time for those vegetables I despise the most…so sorry asparagus.
I am starting to love oven roasted broccoli. I drizzle the pieces in olive oil, add in garlic, salt, pepper, maybe a little paprika…let them crisp up in the oven, then sometimes sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese. Super tasty, and I think oven roasting is a great way to enjoy a wide variety of veggies.
Ease into the groove of veggies
One of the reason I struggle with veggies, is sadly, the preparation. Some weeks, I just don’t want to chop up broccoli, so I buy the pre-cut broccoli at Whole Foods. Pick and choose your battles with this, but certainly don’t be afraid to grab some pre-prepared veggies if that will help you get into the groove of eating them. Going along with that tip, try out veggie noodles! More and more grocery stores are offering prepared veggie noddles- an awesome opportunity to test out some fun pasta recipes, sans actual pasta.
Add it to a frittata
I find it incredibly easy to add veggies to a frittata, omelette, or eggs. Finely chopped onion, peppers, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms…all fabulous additions to an egg creation.
Soup it up
If you’re feeling ambitious, make your own veggie soup- I find vegetables super satisfying when they’re in a homemade soup. A fun soup swap out? Use zucchini noodles in place of regular noodles in chicken noodle soup. Now, let’s say you love the boxed tomato soup from Trader Joe’s (as I do), spice it up by adding in some vegetables- my faves in tomato soup are onion and zucchini.
Give your salads some love
I used to make the most boring salads ever. Every day: feta, avocado, carrots, cucumber, not much else. And I tired of salads, quickly. It is a MUST to switch your salads up! Bring in seasonal elements: fresh strawberries in summer (with goat cheese or feta, cucumber, grilled chicken, red onion, slivered almonds). In fall, incorporate beets, pumpkin seeds, and butternut squash into salads. Make salads fun…use hummus in place of dressing some days, add in sliced turkey, grilled chicken, or smoked salmon for protein. When you spice things up in the salad department, you’re less likely to skip the greens completely.
If you end up not getting pre-cut veggies, or if you still have some that will need slicing, do it ahead of time. Designate time on Sunday to cut everything up so it’s all ready to go when you need a quick snack throughout the week. You’ll be more likely to reach for veggies if they’re all nicely sliced and ready to DIP (or not, whatever, your choice).
There you have it. 10 tips to get more veggies into your diet. Bottom line, you’ve got to rip the band aid. With veggies, with anything that’s a struggle. Stop avoiding it…have fun with it. Don’t let it become a chore, let it be a puzzle you have to figure out. I actually chuckle to myself when I add cauliflower into my smoothies, like, “damn…she doesn’t even notice!”
Vegetables aren’t my strong point. But, instead of being hard on myself, I take it one day a time. I’m far from perfect, but these tips are certainly helping me get closer to my veggie-intake goals!