If you’re like most of us, health crept to the top of the New Year’s Resolutions list (thanks Yasmine – I will be healthier!). Above making more money, seeing more of the world, and getting that fancy new car, most people want to feel and look better. And that means being conscious about personal health.
Well, 2012 is upon us and now is the time to start working toward a healthier, fuller lifestyle. That means a better diet. Wondering about everyone’s strategies, we asked you how you were going to be getting more the one thing we all need: vegetables. After a lot of discussion, you flipped the question on us: how are YOU going to get more vegetables, and what are YOUR tricks?
Why Veggies are Great!
Let’s take a quick moment to remember why vegetables are so great. This essential food group is a key source of crucial vitamins and minerals in the body. Vegetables support a healthy immune system, healthy heart, and better visions. Simply put, vegetables better the whole body systemically, meaning their consumption improves the overall healthy of our bodies. (Click here to find out how minerals found in vegetables are important in our diet, as well as why veggies are just so great).
It’s no wonder that we’re recommended at least five servings a day, which, while it may seem like a tall order, isn’t too hard once you get creative with your meals.
A Few Tasty Idea to Add into Your Diet
These are some of our personal favorites when it comes to vegetables throughout the day. Each meal represents 1-2 serving of vegetables (remember, be lavish in your vegetable use), and by the end of the day, you’re set!
Breakfast: Vegetable Omelet, Veggie Crepe, or…?
The morning is a great time to get at least one serving of vegetables. For me, this means chopping up some zucchini, squash, and onions and adding them to my omelet (usually a little less than 1/4 cup each). I then top that off with a hearty scoop of fresh salsa, rounding off at least 1 serving of vegetables.
The best part is that you can basically apply this to any of your breakfast treats, whether they end up as sides to your breakfast or integrated into the main recipe. I personally love switching out the syrup and sugar for vegetables in morning crepes. Almost like a burrito, but a bit softer and sweeter.
Lunch: Extra Hearty Vegetable Salads
Salads are already a great source for vegetables (just a single cup of raw leafy greens counts as a serving!) but also a great place to sneak in some extra servings. Consider chopping up cucumbers, carrots, radish, or any other of your favorite veggies and tossing them into the mix. If you’re a fan of the roasted option below, consider keeping some left overs and adding them into your salad for tomorrow. Add some protein and a slice of bread for a rounded meal centered on your greens!
Dinner: Cooked Vegetables – Kabobs or Roasted (Oh, and switch out the starch)
We are huge fans of roasted or grilled vegetables. Whether you whip up some vegetable kabobs or roast them individually, cooking up those vegetables like your steaks means serious taste. Simply choose your favorite vegetables – asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, onions, or parsnips – and roast away. We like to toss on some healthy olive oil along with some light seasoning of salt, pepper, and rosemary. Either roast them in your oven or go with the barbe. Cook until browned and soft!
Another great tip (originally suggested by the folks at Nutrition Diva) is to switch your starches, i.e. your rice, pastas, or potatoes, with a vegetable alternative – say, baked acorn squash?
Some General Tips for Vegetable Preparation
If you’re just warming up to vegetables in your diet, here are some pretty basic tips that might help you in your way.
- Diversify – The different colors of vegetables (and fruits) are indicative of their unique nutrients and essential components for our health. So, while you’re working toward you five-a-day goal, be sure to get a rich diversity of vegetables. This way, you’re getting both your needed servings and a full, balanced diet.
- Wash Well - Always remember to wash your vegetables thoroughly, even if they’re organic. For non-organic food, you want to get as many insecticides and herbicides off as possible, and for organic, you want to get off any germs or microbes that might be on the vegetable. That said, you’re food is never above a good wash.
- Bite Sized Rocks - Everything seems to be bite sized for a reason: it’s the perfect size for a bite! If you’re making a vegetable dish, be conscious of the size of your vegetables. The last thing you want is someone gnawing on a cucumber chunk. (P.S. This will also help with cooking evenly!)
- Season Lightly and Evenly – Vegetables don’t need much help. As mentioned, I prefer just a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Maybe a few pieces of rosemary, too. Either way, be even in with your coating of vegetables.
- Cook Smart – It takes effort to ruin vegetables. Just be sure to space your vegetables with breathing room when roasting, be vigilant with boiling and sautéing (work taste tests into the original recipe amount), and check often!
Feeling healthier yet?