3 Ways to Add More Veggies to your Diet
1. Buy “Snackable” Veggies
Stock up on vegetables that are easy to snack on and don’t require a lot of prep. Foods like baby carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, celery, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower. These are easy to prepare as they typically only require a wash and some minimal chopping. You can eat these by themselves or add dips for flavor! Bell peppers are so juicy and fresh that I like to eat them plain to enjoy the full flavor. More cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower require a bit more chopping to get smaller bite-size florets and they are greatly complemented by a simple hummus or yogurt/Tzatziki dip.
Personally, I like to prep my snacks in a Tupperware container, but these particular vegetables are mess-free and can even be portioned into sandwich size zip lock bags. The only thing left to arrange is a container for your dip, if you choose to have one.
2. Blend it!
Leafy and fibrous veggies are extremely nutritious! Foods like spinach or kale contain a lot of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, C, K, Iron, Calcium AND fiber. But, because they are so fibrous, it takes forever to chew and get them into your belly. Let’s be honest, eating a bowl of plain spinach or kale does not exactly score high on the flavor chart.
If you are a smoothie lover, this will definitely boost your fiber and micronutrient intake. I lover preparing a daily smoothie as one of my snack options. It’s easy to keep at my desk, mess-free, and I don’t have to interrupt my activity since I can quickly gulp up a few sips to keep me energized. Adding two handfuls of spinach or kale into the smoothie blend not only hides the flavor, though spinach is already pretty mild compared to kale, but also boosts the fiber content to help keep you full longer from your smoothie.
3. Bulk up your Salad
Salads can get kind of boring and bland after a while. Not only that, often you already feel hungry an hour after having your salad meal. Who ever said a salad is just lettuce, tomato and dressing?! You can really bulk up your salad with either raw or roasted veggies to add flavor and fullness. If you opt to go this route, be prepared to invest a little time ahead for prepping and chopping so that you can easily throw your salad together.
If I choose raw vegetables, I like to add some fibrous, but also “carby” veggies. My favorite is broccoli, though it hasn’t always been. I chop the crown down to as many small florets as I can and store them in a zip lock bag. This way, I can use a handful at a time for preparing my salad without having to do a lot of repeat chop and prep. You can also add foods like zucchini, bell peppers, celery, or shredded carrots. Dedicating an hour on any given day to prepping and chopping your veggies can save you a lot of time throughout the week when it’s time to actually make your meal. As far as more carbohydrate-rich veggies, I like using canned beans because there is no prep required. Also, they are cost effective, last for ages in the pantry and are an excellent vegetarian protein source to keep you full even longer.
But, when eating veggies raw, be prepared to do a lot of chewing. If I’m already investing the time to clean and prep and chop my vegetables, I prefer to season them and let them roast in the oven. This process adds flavor, makes chewing easier and leaves a more comforting feeling of having a home cooked meal when added to your salad. My favorite veggie roast combination is broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes or yams, and cauliflower. I spread each batch of vegetables out on a separate tray and use the same seasoning for all, top it off with olive oil and pop it in the oven to cook. Typically, it takes about 30-45 minutes to clean, prepare and chop everything up, then while the veggies are roasting for the next 30-40 minutes, I can do my clean up and dish washing. Once everything is done, I am set for the week ahead and no further cook time is needed. It makes my week so easy! This strategy also allows me to mix and match so I don’t eat the same thing over and over all week. And if I don’t feel like having a salad, I always have a cooked meal ready to heat up. The only thing left to worry about is what protein I want to add to that meal, but that’s for another post.