Vegetables are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants and vitamins, all working together to keep you healthy. Even though we know vegetables are good for us, they can still be missing from the plate. Common barriers to eating more vegetables include a lack of time to prepare them, the cost, and needing more cooking skills to take them from boring to wow. This guide will give you easy ideas on incorporating more vegetables into your diet.
All vegetables offer fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They all work together to keep you healthy and reduce disease risk.
Different colored vegetables offer different nutritional benefits. You should eat the rainbow to optimize your health.
Frozen, fresh, and canned vegetables have similar nutrition, but they will vary in cost and texture.
If chopping vegetables is holding you back, buy cut vegetable packages instead. They cost more, but it is worth the investment if they help you eat more vegetables.
Every single vegetable offers different nutritional benefits that support your health. The colorful parts of the vegetables are where the vitamins and minerals are housed in the cells of the vegetables. That’s why healthcare providers recommend you eat the rainbow daily; it helps you get the most variety in your diet.
Eating & preparing vegetables shouldn't be hard
A barrier to eating more vegetables is prep work. Many people don’t want to spend extra time washing and chopping vegetables in the evening, especially if their schedules are loaded with work and family commitments.
Buying frozen or canned vegetables is a great way to bypass chopping and still include vegetables in your meals. The nutritional content will be the same as fresh options, but the texture will differ greatly. If you are monitoring your salt intake, check the labels before you buy: choose a product stating no salt added.
You can also buy already cut fresh vegetables from most grocery stores. This can be a great option for people with physical restrictions or joint pain who cannot spend hours chopping vegetables. Or for people on a time crunch with a limited food preparation window.
Already-cut vegetables can cost a bit more than buying whole produce, but they often go on sale, so always double-check the options at your grocery store (especially at the end of the day). If you feel guilty spending more money on these products, try to change your mindset and recognize this purchase is an investment in your health. It is worth it if it helps you eat more vegetables, which directly supports your metabolic health.
How to eat more vegetables
According to the USDA, at least half of your plate should be dedicated to vegetables. They can be fresh in a salad, cooked in a stir fry, roasted in the oven, or crisped at home using your air fryer. Following the ratios in the plate model to build your meals is a great way to check your meals are balanced without worrying about measuring the portions.
Here are some tips on how to increase your vegetable intake:
- Soup. Add a minimum of 2 to 3 vegetables to every soup recipe.
- Salad. Make a side salad to complement take-out meals.
- Breakfast. Add 1 to 2 vegetables to your breakfast omelet or toast.
- Sauce. Mix diced vegetables into pasta sauces.
- Dips. Blend vegetables directly into dips, such as red pepper hummus.
- Restaurant food. Choose a vegetarian meal when you dine out.
- Sandwiches. Include 1 to 3 vegetables in your sandwiches and wraps.
- Eat vegetarian. Dedicate one day to vegetarian eating, such as a meatless Monday.
Additionally, fresh veggie sticks don’t have to be boring if you choose a delicious sauce to dip them in. Here are some tasty dips for you to try:
- Tzatziki yogurt dip
- Baba ghanoush
- Greek yogurt with ranch seasoning
How to keep vegetables fresh
Correctly storing your vegetables is important to help them stay fresh for as long as possible. Many items can be safely kept in a cool pantry or even on the kitchen counter. Certain vegetables don’t fare well if they are stored together; potatoes and onions in the pantry are more prone to spoilage when they are stored together. The vapors from the onions are volatile and can increase the decay rate in delicate potatoes.
|Green leafy vegetables, celery, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, beets.
|Potatoes, squash, onion, garlic.
|Tomatoes and eggplant.
Make small changes
You may already be doing a great job with your vegetable intake, but sometimes we can benefit from gentle a reminder to add more vegetables to our plates. In the colder months making a hot soup or stew is an easy option that can sound the most appealing. You can also add vegetables to different sauces and dips you make at home, too.
During the summer months, or the warmest time of the year, salads may call your name. They are light and refreshing and a great way to feature seasonal vegetables. Adding some nuts and small amounts of cheese to your salads can help you stay satisfied for longer.
To keep your meals exciting, try to create new dressings every week or use different vegetables. Growing bored with the same old recipe happens to all at-home chefs and bringing some new recipes and ingredients into the kitchen can help light the spark again.
As you increase your vegetable intake you may notice your bathroom habits can change. The extra fiber and roughage from the vegetables can be very stimulating to the gut, and increase the number of bowel movements. Remember to drink more water to help your body flush the fiber through your digestive tract and help keep things moving along.
- U.S. Departments Of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.