Diet trends come and go, but one golden rule remains the same: eating a variety of vegetables is important for maintaining good overall health. But learning to eat more vegetables usually requires a little more finesse than shoving a handful into your mouth every day.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 9 percent of American adults They are consuming the recommended daily amount of two to three cups of vegetables per day. So even if people know the rule, does not mean that they continue he.
Anyway, why is it so important to consume your daily dose of vegetables? One reason is that they are simply good for the body.
“Vegetables are loaded with many valuable nutrients like fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that have been shown time and time again to promote health,” says Krista Maguire, RD, CSSD and senior nutrition manager at BODi.
Not only that, they can also help with healthy weight management. “Vegetables add bulk and fiber to meals, which helps you feel full,” says Dan Fenyvesi, MS, RD and author of Food sobriety. And while all that seems like reason enough to eat vegetables, sometimes it’s hard to make this food group a priority.
If you’re struggling to figure out how to eat more vegetables and hit your daily recommended amount, here’s a list of creative, fun, and delicious ways to get those nutrient gold stars into your daily meals. Enjoy!
1. Add new flavors to your vegetables
If you’re struggling in the vegetable department, the first thing you should look at is how you’re preparing them. Do you hate the taste of raw broccoli? So don’t eat raw broccoli!
With the right marinade, spices, and preparation method, vegetables can be transformed into something far beyond their original form.
One of Fenyvesi’s favorite ways to prepare vegetables is to marinate them with salad dressing and roast them in the oven at 450°. Sprinkle on a little more herbs and spices and it’s a simple and tasty way to enjoy your vegetables.
(If you opt for salad dressing, check the label to make sure it has no added sugar or preservatives.)
2. Separate them for breakfast
Make a fluffy egg omelette with your favorites, like broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms, for a quick and easy dose of morning veggies.
The broccoli works as a bulk filling, and the spinach and mushrooms are cooked in a smaller volume, allowing you to pack in a nice portion without overpowering the omelette.
Do you prefer a sweet breakfast? Pack some pumpkin puree on pancakes! Protein-rich pumpkin pancakes are loaded with a whole cup of orange, providing potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and iron.
Fall or not, this is a great way to start the day.
3. Load up your pasta sauce
Tomato sauce in its purest form (that is, mostly tomatoes and minimal added sugar and preservatives) can be a healthy base for pasta.
If you want to take it to the next level, add diced zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, garlic, bell peppers, and spinach for an amazing version of pasta Primavera.
Even the pickiest eaters can enjoy this hearty pasta base. For a spicy kick, add some red chili flakes for a touch of “arrabbiata” and you’ve got a deliciously healthy Italian sauce.
4. Opt for cauliflower pizza base
Cauliflower is really having a moment. And luckily for us, that has led us to a low-calorie, nutrient-packed pizza base.
It’s pretty easy to make your own cauliflower crust: throw some florets into a food processor and blend with eggs and spices, or you can buy some at the store.
But just pay attention to the ingredient list of store-bought options: Not all cauliflower crust pizzas are low in calories and carbs, so be sure to read the label.
Maguire says you can also opt for a broccoli crust if you prefer, or mix them together for a cauli-broc mix!
It’s the perfect springboard for layering veggie tomato sauce (see above), roasted broccoli, tomato, spinach, garlic, mushrooms, and cheese for a big, happy vegetable pizza garden.
5. Cook cauliflower fried rice
The best part of this cauliflower boom? Virtually every grocery store now sells ready-made cauliflower, which is an excellent base for vegetable fried rice.
We love cauliflower fried rice loaded with peas, carrots, and other tasty additions. You can also include chicken for some protein!
It is very easy to make cauliflower rice yourself; all you need is a food processor to finely chop the cauli florets. You can also find it in many grocery stores if you don’t have a food processor.
And you can do the same with broccoli if you prefer green.
6. Add diced vegetables to burger meat
Want a veggie burger, but still fancy some meat? Fenyvesi says that dicing onions, parsnips, and carrots and incorporating them into the ground beef has been a big hit with his customers and is a creative way to diversify his burger game.
Layer lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and fresh onions and you’ve got a veggie-packed burger that will still satisfy your inner carnivore.
7. Prepare some vegetarian tacos
“In terms of Mexican or Southern California-style cuisine, I love street tacos loaded with chopped onion, cilantro, and radish,” says Fenyvesi. Tacos are a super easy and versatile vehicle to incorporate any of your favorite vegetables.
Try adding sweet potatoes with black beans, avocado, scallions, and cheese for a heartier version. And to really trick your taste buds, you can cook jackfruit in a way that gives it the exact same flavor as pulled pork.
8. Blend vegetables in smoothie bowls
Smoothie bowls are a delicious (and sneaky) way to add more veggies to your day, not to mention they’re super. Instagramable!
You can really customize this vegetarian hack to your preferences, as it’s pretty easy to use fruit and nut butters to mask the flavor of veggies like kale and spinach.
And if you prefer a good old-fashioned smoothie without the bowl, try these superfood smoothie recipes.
Just be careful with store-bought or pre-made smoothie options if you go that route, as they can often be loaded with sugar and other unnecessary ingredients that aren’t very healthy for you.
9. Reconsider your favorite snacks
You’ve probably heard of sweet potato fries, but have you ever thought about zucchini fries? Breading and baking sliced zucchini is a delicious new take on a classic fast food snack.
Here’s an easy fried zucchini recipe that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and only has 74 calories per serving. You only need four ingredients and some seasoning, and then you can enjoy a healthy side to your (veggie-filled) burgers for dinner.
Another vegetarian version of a classic children’s snack are these broccoli florets. Start with broccoli with rice as a base and then mix in some eggs, cheese, and other seasonings.
They are a perfect salty treat for when you want to relive your younger years in a healthier way. Plus, they can be a hit with kids, who could also use a little more veggies at snack time.
10. Spiralize your vegetables
It’s a tall order to replace pasta, but zoodles have become a favorite among veggie lovers. Using a spiralizer, set the desired thickness and turn the spiralized zucchini into long noodles, or “zoodles,” if desired.
Try them in this garlic shrimp recipe or make a creamy roasted red pepper sauce for vegetable noodles.
Don’t you like zucchini that much? You can also use squash, beets, carrots, and even sweet potatoes to make these faux noodles, says Maguire.
And if you really want to get fancy, combine several veggie noodles for a super colorful, nutrient-dense dish. Add some pesto or tomato sauce and you’ll love this delicious, low-calorie vegetable dish.