Love ‘em, hate ‘em, can’t live without ‘em; literally, you can’t. Even veggie lovers struggle at times to get enough green in their diets, so what’s a person to do when they just don’t really like vegetables? First, things first, get over it (no, that’s not one of the “ways”). Seriously, there have to be a few fresh greens, yellows, orange, red, or purple goodies that come from the earth that suit your taste buds.
Americans, in general, fail to consume adequate fruits and vegetables. And when we do, we tend to over-consume fruits and skimp on vegetables, probably because veggies are simply less sweet than fruits. But when we eat too little of the things are that are the best for our bodies, our health and vitality suffer. We are less vibrant and more susceptible to chronic and inflammatory health challenges including type 2 diabetes, obesity, constipation, arthritis, and certain cancers. So, if you’re struggling to get the recommended servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, which by the way, should really be 2 servings of fruit and 7 servings of vegetables daily, this list is for you.
1. Add green veggies to your smoothie – probably the most cliché of the recommendations, but also one of the easiest and most effective ways to increase your intake of greens is to blend them up with something that may mask or buffer their taste just enough. Here are a few examples. You can add a handful of fresh spinach, kale, chard, cucumber, or combination of said veggies to any of the following smoothie combos:
2. Stuff your sandwich – if you are a sandwich/Panini/wrap type of person, add veggies to the inside – arugula, lettuce, zucchini, fennel, shredded carrots, bell peppers – add a little crunch and a little texture and you’ll be surprised how much fresher your meal becomes!
3. Sneak veggies into your sauces. This is especially easy with sauces that you put on pasta – think marinara, cream sauce or pesto. With marinara, chop up veggies and either puree or sauté right in the sauce. In cream sauce, you can easily mask cauliflower by pureeing it into the sauce. With pesto, you can use greens in addition to basil or other fresh herbs that you would traditionally blend up with oil, nuts, and garlic to make your pesto. Serve on top of #4 (see below).
4. Familiarize yourself with a spiralizer. A spiralizer is a useful kitchen tool that is super easy to use and is mainly used to transform veggies into “noodles.” You can find simple to use by hand spiralizers or electric models that can attach onto your stand up mixer. Zucchini and carrots work great as substitutes for traditional spaghetti or angel hair pasta. Spiralizing is an easy way to up your veggie ante for the day.
5. Learn to love salads. There are likely hundreds of varieties of lettuce though we may be most familiar with Iceberg, Romaine, Green- or Red Leaf, and Butter lettuce varieties. Perhaps you’ve never ventured beyond Iceberg. The flavor and texture of different lettuce varieties differ considerably. In general, the darker the leaf, the greater the nutritional value, so don’t be afraid to experiment. It may take some getting used to but when you add in some additional flavors like chopped scallions, maybe some sunflower seeds, fresh tomatoes, cucumber, and your favorite protein, you’ll be well on your way to increasing your dose of daily greens. With the ease of pre-washed salad greens, there is hardly an excuse not to add salad to your daily diet.
Subscribe to Dr. Debra's weekly digest to tips, recipes, motivation and more to live an inspired life.