It’s the most wonderfully GREEN time of the year; St. Patrick’s Day is just a few days away, plants are
starting to pop through the earth’s surface and spring is soon upon us! What a perfect time to get those nutrient dense, healthy veggies BACK in the meal planning routine.
What’s the big deal about veggies?
Yes, we’ve all heard since the beginning of time that we MUST EAT MORE VEGETABLES. You’re probably trying your darnedest to hit the FIVE servings/daily you’re ‘supposed’ to throw down. So… why are the so important?
- Most veggies are very low in calories and high in nutrient density
- Some awesome nutrients you can find include; potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C
- Eating a diet rich in vegetables may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke
- Eating a diet rich in some vegetables may protect against certain types of cancers
- Nutrition rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes
- Eating vegetables rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss
- Eating foods such as vegetables that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
The list goes on and on…
How to fit more veggies into your nutrition routine
Veggies at breakfast are a fantastic way to start the day. Think a bit outside of the box when making a quick meal in the morning or preparing your am meals before the week gets started. Some ideas for breakfast vegetables:
- Omelets are the perfect hangout for protein AND load of veggies. Include onion, peppers, and leafy greens for easy veggie add ons.
- Those scrambled eggs? Throw in some mushrooms and at the very end, top with a veggie dense salsa (yum)
- Don’t discriminate against non breakfast foods in the morning. Leftover veggies from the night before or ANYTHING you have in the fridge are fine to start your day. Become a non breakfast, breakfast person
Salads are boring. You shouldn’t have to relegate yourself to iceberg lettuce, shredded carrot and a radish for you lunch time fueling session. Think a bit more about how you can ‘yummy’ your lunch. Here are some easy ideas:
- Sandwiches are FINE. Load ’em up with all the veggies! Ditch the drab piece of iceberg and load that sammy with romaine/bibb or butter lettuce. Try a few tomatoes, cucumber, onion (unless you’ve got some close speaking engagements on tap for the afternoon), pickles, bean sprouts and a small shmear of hummus. Add a pice of turkey or chicken for some protein and you’ve got a healthy sandwich that sets you up all afternoon.
- Try coleslaw as a healthy vegetable-rific side
- Beef up your drab salad with more dense, colorful veggies. Throw together a monster salad the
night before, with more dense/moisture driven veggies on the bottom. Try a jar salad; make multiple jars Sunday to eat for lunch throughout the week!
- It doesn’t have to be complicated. Need a few more servings of veggies to satisfy your serving goals AND your stomach? Cut veggies. Put veggies in plastic baggie or environmentally safe container of your choice. Take veggies with you. Eat veggies. Use hummus or a low calorie dressing for a bit more flavor if need.
Ok, we’ve upped your veggies dramatically and it’s only 4pm. So how can we get some more fun veggies in at dinner that don’t take hours and don’t need waves of fatty dressings and dips. Bring on dinner:
- ROAST the veggies. This method is quick, easy and I haven’t found a combination of veggies that has not been delicious when roasted. Throw on the oven to 375-400 degrees or so, chop your favorite veggies, salt/pepper and drizzle with EVOO. Throw them in and let them go while you finish off the rest of dinner. Use what’s in season or on sale at your local market!
- Again, think a bit outside the dinner box. Instead of a protein, veggie and starch… use two vegetables, but one with a little more oomph to it. Try roasted broccoli and acorn squash, asparagus and sweet potatoes and get creative!
- Finish pastas, lasagnas, grains and casseroles with leafy greens. Spinach, kale, collards, etc. are a great last minute addition to dozens of easy dishes. Throw them in, chopped, with a few minutes to go and you’ve easily got a serving that’s hard to notice.
But, what about the CHILDREN!
Sure, kids notoriously don’t like their veggies. But, there are ways around it. You could either go back in time and introduce a bigger variety of fruits/vegetables to them early on, throw lame steamed mush at them OR use some tricks to get them to eat the awesome healthy veggie things.
- One of my favorite clients used a great trick teaching her kids about the importance of their food, and even better, vegetables. From early on she stressed the importance of a colorful plate. Fill that plate with COLORS, she reminds them. This drastically helps them make good decisions.
- Chop/finely diced veggies fit well in most ditches, especially when they’re cooked INTO them. The veggies will take on the flavors of the dish. Season well!
- Leafy greens are another easy, tricky way to fit in healthy vegetable things. Chop greens and throw them in lasagna, pastas, casseroles, etc.
- Zucchini and squash are sneaky vegetables. Shred finely and add to many of the dishes listed here
- Sauces (spaghetti, sloppy joes, etc.) are great sneaky places to add finely diced, shredded vegetables as well. The better they cook down, the more likely you’ll get away with it
- Tomato sauce (pasta), salsa and pizza sauce are great places to tuck away the veggies
- Broccoli and cauliflower are notoriously delicious veggies when given a cheesy kick. Create a small cheesy bit o’ deliciousness to top steamed broccoli/cauliflower OR try a Cauliflower Mac N’ Cheese.
Vegetables are a must have in your daily nutrition, but they don’t have to be boring, mushy or inedible. Your meal prep doesn’t even have to take hours to make it happen. Try to get in a serving or two at each meal and throw in one serving as a snack. One serving (1/2 cup) is nothin’! You can easily chop, dice, shred that much into your meals.
Grab some more of the green (and colorful) stuff from your produce department on the next grocery shopping trip. Try something new! You might not even realize you dig a veggie you once thought to be the devil’s work (aka brussel sprouts when I was a youngster… I can’t get enough now)!
Need more help with your nutrition? A guide. A plan. An assist? We do that! Ask Coach Amelia anytime or head over to our Facebook page (and temporarily free group LIVFIT Nation) now! LIKE us, stick around and learn all the awesome healthy things to help you LIVFIT!