Most people realize they need more veggies, but tend to leave them out of their meals. They simply need a little help or encouragement to actually get them! Once people see how easily vegetables can be deliciously incorporated into their lives, they start to bump up their intake. Besides making/ordering omelets, sandwiches, pizzas, wraps and burritos with veggies added, one of the best things you can do at any meal is order (or microwave from frozen at home if short on time) a side of steamed veggies without added butter or oil. Simply mix them right in whatever meal you are eating and you’ll add great texture, flavor and color to your meal and the veggies will pick up the flavor from the sauce in the meal.
Chinese Chicken and rice? Pasta and chicken? Mac ‘n cheese? You end up eating less of the heavy stuff and fill your stomach with the lower calorie, fiber-and nutrient packed veggies. (Added bonus: If you’re a fan of large helpings you can bag a third of the meal for later and mix the veggies right in the portion you have and you’ll fill your stomach with nutrients and fiber but without extra calories. This way you won’t feel cheated or deprived because your meal won’t appear smaller, only your waistline will!).
Try these other simple tips to get more vegetables in your diet:
- Use nori or lettuce for traditional sandwiches or wraps rather than carb-rich bread.
- Eat your rice and other grain-based meals by putting them in cups made with veggies-like scooped out tomatoes and bell peppers, zucchini and cucumber boats—these are delicious shells for the carbs and help to keep the carb portion in check (we have several recipes that do this in our book).
- You can also easily make dips and spreads with spinach and yogurt—we have many veggie based dips that can double as sauces for grains and meats and are perfect for dipping veggies).
A few more ideas?
- Sprinkle seaweed over salads, chicken or fish, in sandwiches and in soups to add crunch and texture, vitamin C and A. Although the seaweed snacks taste salty, they have just 30-60 mg per serving so it’s a great way to jazz up any food that you may normally add a salty condiment to.
- Top baked potatoes with steamed vegetables (especially broccoli and spinach) and baked spaghetti squash with tomato sauce to boost lycopene intake. Tomato sauce has 4 times the lycopene as fresh tomatoes
- Mix pureed canned pumpkin into oatmeal and add cinnamon. Pumpkin is packed with beta carotene and fiber and it’s a great way to sneak the nutrition of a veggie into breakfast. Cinnamon has blood sugar lowering benefits. We also sometimes mix this combo into yogurtyogurt and occasionally add a touch of brown sugar or honey to the pumpkin.
- Use our Red, Green and Orange rule to include one red, green or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal. When you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget. Vegetables are an excellent source of disease-fighting nutrients and are high in fiber and low in calories, and great for helping maintain a healthy weight and fighting aging.
How you can make it work even better: Fine tune your produce choices by focusing on your health or beauty goals. Choose those veggies that are best for you—if you want to beat bloat, boost your mood, lose weight, fight cancer, reduce stress, etc., check out our new book, The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty where we name the specific vegetables that are best for what you want and provide more than 100 corresponding recipes—so there’s many ways to use our Red, Green and Orange Rule.