It’s no secret that most of us don’t get enough green leafy vegetables in our diets. Furthermore, most would agree that these plant-based foods provide numerous health benefits that include reducing inflammation, lowering the risk for heart disease and diabetes, nourishing our brains, fighting free radicals and perhaps even slowing the aging process. The problem is that, despite our good intentions, most of us simply don’t ingest enough veggies. It might be because we don’t think we have time to cook them, or perhaps we are under the misconception that they all taste bad. Whatever the cause, it’s time to put all forms of resistance firmly behind you. After all, there are tons of creative ways to incorporate more green into your diet.
One of the best ways is via the so-called “green smoothie” that you have been hearing so much about. The beauty of these concoctions is that you can tweak them in infinite ways. As a beginner, you may want to make a drink that mostly consists of fruit with a handful of a mild veggie such as spinach. Then, as your taste buds become more accustomed, you can increase the veggies so that you ultimately get your greens in a few gulps. Add “super foods” such as chia or hemp seeds or acai or goji berries, and the nutritional value goes up even higher.
Soups are comforting, delicious, versatile and packed with nutrition. What’s more, they are the perfect vehicles for boosting your veggie intake. Start by putting vegetables in your broth, but don’t stop there. Add extra goodness with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and kale.
MAKE VEGETABLE NOODLES
Did you know that zucchini, spaghetti squash and other greens can be cut into spiral shapes and used in place of high-carb noodles? The result is a colorful, fun and delicious pasta dish that even kids will love. With a simple tool called a spiralizer, you can even make sweet potatoes into vitamin-packed lasagna ingredients.
Your grater can provide you with a sneaky but effective way to add veggies into almost anything. Enhance your sauce on the sly; even add some nutrients to your decadent brownies. Every little bit helps.
WHIP UP AN OMELET
These easy-to-make, high-protein egg creations are perfect vehicles for the veggies you need. Onions, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and peppers all taste great when folded into these popular egg dishes. Of course, omelets are always a hit at breakfast, but they can also be a great snack after a work-out or even a light dinner.
A DIFFERENT TAKE ON OATMEAL
Another food that is commonly associated with morning eating, oatmeal is usually sweetened and can be served with raisins or other fruit. Another way to prepare it is to incorporate savory vegetables such as greens, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and eggs into the mix. It will definitely leave you feeling well-nourished and ready for the day.
DON’T FORGET THE SALAD
It’s easy to overlook this cold vegetable medley, but you will be missing out on a real treat if you do. Whatever you choose to use is fine: different types of lettuce, roasted greens or potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and even beets. You could even make a seven layer salad that combines all of your favorite flavors into a rich and delicious blend.
The good news is that vegetables don’t need to be bad-tasting or boring. Make these numerous gifts from the earth a regular part of your diet by having fun, being creative and letting their flavors shine. Before you know it, you will be eating healthier than you ever thought possible.