Vegetables are an essential part of any healthy diet.
Unfortunately, many Canadians don't actually meet the required minimum servings of fruit and vegetables each day (hey, we're guilty too!).The regular standard is eight servings of fruit and vegetables each day. However, many of us take that as a cue to chow down on too much fruit, or load our smoothies with berries, bananas, mangoes, etc., and neglect adding spinach or other vegetables.
Guess what! That's still a lot of sugar in your diet. And if you're trying to lose weight, extra sugar should be the first thing you look at.
That's why loading up on vegetables, full of nutrients and complex carbohydrates is a great place to start if you you're looking to drop a few sizes.
As author Michael Pollan puts it: "eat real food, not too much, and mostly plants."
But what if you really don't like vegetables? I actually had a friend claim they were allergic to many vegetables as a child because she didn't want to eat them!
Well, you can hide them, or start incorporating these into your everyday meals. Did you know that once you start eating foods that are good for you, you actually start to crave them?
Here are a few easy ways to eat more veggies:
1. Put them in a smoothie
A smoothie made well enough, and with the right vegetables, is the perfect way to hide vegetables that you might not otherwise eat. I like to think that a smoothie isn't worth it, unless there is a little green.
Here is a great recipe to start with:
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tbsp. nut butter of choice
- 1 frozen banana (tip: chop it before freezing)
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 big handful spinach
- 1/2 frozen zucchini (tip: chop it before freezing)
- Optional: frozen berries, protein powder of choice, or 1/2 avocado if you want it creamier
2. Find out what your favourite vegetables are...
...then double your regular intake. Do you love (okay, just tolerate) steamed broccoli? Add them to your lunch and dinner. Raw carrots your jam? Chop up a bunch to snack on all day long.
If you actually like the vegetables you're eating, the more likely you are to finish them! Many people find roasting vegetables (like beets, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, carrots, parsnip, asparagus, etc.) make them much more appetizing.
3. Load your sandwiches with vegetables
Are you a sandwich-for-lunch kind of person? Who isn't? The only downside is that many people forget about the most important part–vegetables–and load up on condiments, protein and cheese.
Most sandwich-worthy veggies are:
- Lettuce (go for romaine!)
- Roasted bell peppers
4. Make one meal a salad (each day!)
This probably seems easy, but tends to be forgotten... or thought of as the "sad lunch salad" that leaves you unsatisfied.
But here are a few tips to have that salad last you until dinner:
- Start with a good leaf-base. Do you hate spinach? Don't use it! Love iceberg lettuce? Get in as much as you can!
- Add in a healthy fat like 1/2 avocado, a tahini-based dressing (our favourite: tahini, apple cider vinegar, mustard), or nuts and seeds.
- Don't forget the protein. If you eat meat, go for fish or a lean meat like chicken. Otherwise, try legumes.
- Include a complex carb or starchy vegetable like quinoa, sweet potato, or 1/4 cup legumes.