One of the areas that you need to address regularly when trying to have a balanced life is living healthy. This is something that I have struggled with for a long time. Especially when I was so overworked, I feel like I did some major damage to my body and now I am working to try and heal it. Not just from a medical standpoint but from a nutritional standpoint as well.
On my other site, I have written about my me and my husband’s journey to not only lose weight, but to become healthier. After many ups and downs, we have converted our diet to about 90% clean, unprocessed foods. We eat mainly a vegetable and fruit based diet, although we do eat meat or fish a few times a week. We are also limiting our processed carb intake, mainly just potatoes, beans, and brown rice.
Eating more vegetables was a challenge for me at first. For so many years, my idea of vegetables for dinner was canned green beans and canned corn! It takes time to break out of longstanding habits and routines. I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me to add more vegetables into our diet.
10 ways you can add more vegetables (and fruits) into your diet:
1. Look for one-pot meals that could enable you to add veggies in without changing the flavor too much. My daughter adds shredded carrots to her jarred spaghetti sauce and her kids have no idea!
2. Look at your store’s flyer for the week (most you can view online) and see what veggies are on sale. These are usually the items that are currently in season, making them even better for you since they aren’t shipped so far. Plan meals around these vegetables.
3. Once you buy your produce, don’t bury it away in the bottom drawers never to be thought of again. Keep it on a higher shelf so it is plain sight every time you open the fridge.
4. Consider how you can use veggies for a snack. Carrots and celery can be dipped into dressing or hummus. I love raw zucchini and my husband loves cherry tomatoes! And of course fruits make a great snack. Tangerines, grapes, apples, bananas are all so portable and easy to grab on the go.
5. Think about what vegetables you DO like and already eat. See if there are some different ways to prepare them. Maybe a sauce you could add, or an alternate way of cooking.
6. Consider having salad for lunch everyday or a side salad with your dinner meal. There are lots of things you could add to your salad such as: carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, mushrooms, edamame, spinach. Keep the makings of a salad handy in your fridge so it is easy to throw one together. The possibilities are endless!
7. What about a shake for breakfast? Smoothies are all the rage right now as it is a good way to sneak in some fruit and veggies into your diet. You can start with a handful of spinach, some frozen strawberries, half a banana, 2 spoons of yogurt and a cup of skim milk. Blend it up well and I promise you won’t taste the spinach! There are tons of recipes on the web for these, but eventually you figure out what you like best.
8. During the winter especially, it may be easier for you to use frozen vegetables. These are almost as good as fresh, and you can keep a stash handy for your use. I would recommend not buying the kind with pre-made sauces, better to make and add your own. I also keep frozen fruits on hand for a smoothie or a fruit crumble. I plan this summer to buy some things when they are abundant and cheap and freeze them myself.
9. Most vegetables taste awesome roasted in the oven. I love to roast zucchini, cauliflower, asparagus, and I even roasted cabbage this week. I use a variety of spices depending on the style of the meal, but always salt and pepper, and brush with oil. I may throw in onions, garlic, balsamic vinegar, or soy sauce. Roasting brings out a whole different flavor, give it a try!
10. Buying fresh and local is the best way to go. During the summer and into fall, there are local farmer’s markets where you can buy VERY fresh in-season produce. Also consider joining a CSA group or Community Supported Agriculture. It is a great way to get regular veggies and support your local economy. Read more about CSA’s.
It took some time for us to make the shift to a vegetable based diet. If you are like most Americans, you may have had one to two vegetables a day (not including a potato as a vegetable here). It is recommended that we have anywhere from 6-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, so most are a long way off from that goal!