What’s not to love about vegetables?
- They provide alkalinity to balance all the acid-forming carbs and proteins we eat.
- They provide fiber.
- They fill you up without adding a lot of calories.
- They provide phytonutrients, i.e. antioxidants, plant sterols, enzymes.
- They provide variety of color, texture and taste in a daily diet.
- They provide water.
- They help you keep, um, regular. 😉
- Deeply colored vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals.
This only scratches the surface, I’m sure, of the benefits of vegetables.
The question is: How can we get more of them into our diets?
Some practical ideas:
1. Make a list of all the vegetables you can think of and keep it on you while you shop. I keep this list in the Notes section of my cell phone.
2. Keep a current inventory of all the vegetables you have in the house (fresh, frozen and dried) on your refrigerator at eye level, and use it to plan menus. Check them off as you use them. Don’t go shopping again until you’ve used them all up!
3. Buy fresh and locally grown, preferably at a farmer’s market – they taste better so you’ll be more likely to eat them!
4. When you go out to eat, try a vegetarian restaurant. They tend to be more creative with their use of vegetables. So many restaurants focus so heavily on meat and starch offerings that they overlook what can be done with veggies. And while you’re there, ask for their take-out menu to bring home. I have many take-out menus I keep in a file. They give me ideas when I don’t know what I’m in the mood for.
5. Make green smoothies.
6. Try three new vegetables every week.
7. Salads don’t have to be made from lettuce. Experiment!
8. Plan on filling at least 1/2 your dinner plate with vegetables. Plus salad on the side.
9. Add them to breakfast – veggie omelets and frittatas, over-light egg on cooked greens, huevos rancheros with plenty of fresh salsa.
10. Have more lettuce and tomato in your sandwich than meat or cheese. Also, try adding thinly sliced cucumber and onion, avocado, sprouts. For that matter, have a veggie sandwich!
Tip Number 2 has been the most profitable thing I’ve done to use more veggies. I mean well, but when my fridge is packed with fresh veggies, things get shoved to the back and I forget they’re there! Now when I think, “What am I going to make for dinner?” I go to that list, choose a few vegetables, then add a protein and maybe a carb.
Personal note: The weight control aspect of consuming a lot of vegetables is what I appreciate most right now. I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight my whole adult life, and for many earlier years, didn’t succeed. So I really appreciate how intentionally incorporating many veggies into my diet has helped in this area. I feel so much better now!
I think mostly it involves a change in thinking. For years, I thought, “Ok, dinner. Uh…chicken and brown rice. Oh, yeah, and broccoli.” But now I consider vegetables first when it comes to meal planning, pack vegetables for snacks at work, and plan my meals to be at least 1/2 vegetables. That includes breakfast, too, since I have a smoothie just about every day loaded with kale or other greens.
So I encourage you to incorporate some of these practices into your food lifestyle. You will not be sorry!