Growing up, I used to hate vegetables with a passion. But it all changed when my mom made a veggie stir fry back when I was a teen. Her recipe was just a simple blend of broccoli, bell peppers and onions combined with chicken and seasonings. It was literally the first time I’d ever eaten veggies and actually liked them. To this day, stir fries are at the top of the list of meals I recommend if you’re looking to get more vegetables in your diet, next to salads of course.
It’s no mystery that a lot of people struggle with eating vegetables. In fact, a CDC study found that just 9.3% of American adults eat the recommended 2-3 cups a day. If you’re one of the 90% of adults who isn’t eating enough veggies, perhaps you haven’t found a vegetable you enjoy. It could be a deep-seated aversion due to childhood memories. Maybe it’s just a taste or texture thing. Or it might be something else.
Truth is, there are many reasons why people shy away from vegetables. I’m certainly not here to judge. Still, there’s no denying we need vegetables, as they’re rich in health-promoting fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. So, what’s a vegetable hater to do? Luckily, there are many ways around it. If you’re really having trouble meeting the recommended daily amount of veggies, here are nine easy ways to sneak more of them into your diet.
1. Go the Ole Salad Route
Yeah, I know, I’m biased – but for good reason. Salads are the absolute best way to get more vegetables in your diet. They don’t have to be boring either. Whether you make a salad at home or choose one from a restaurant menu, go for one that’s rich in a variety of colors and flavors. You can base it with dark leafy greens like kale, spinach or romaine and then pile on other colorful layers like bell peppers, carrots, tomato, red cabbage and onions.
Not a fan of these veggie flavors? Mask them by adding fruits, fats and proteins to the bowl. You have endless options with salads. Just check out some of our recipes and see what I mean.
2. Stir Fry Your Veggies, Of Course
As I mentioned in the intro, stir fries are one of the best ways to get more vegetables in your diet. For instance, our Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry recipe is the perfect blend of veggies across the color spectrum and includes a homemade seasoning blend. We also include sizable amounts of quality protein and fat to give you the most nutritional bang for your buck. You have countless options when it comes to building your own stir-fry bowls.
Experiment with a variety of different veggies and enjoy them with grains like rice, noodles or even quinoa. Perhaps even serve it on a bed of leafy greens like arugula (as we do) for a “cooked salad.”
3. Drink Your Veggies
Fresh juices and smoothies are great ways to sneak a ton of vegetables into your diet. Dark leafy greens, carrots, beets, cucumber and celery are among the best veggies to use in juice blends and smoothies. To mask the flavors of these veggies, simply blend them with your favorite fruits, yogurt, nut or seed butters, grains or other tasty nutrient-rich whole foods. You have endless options here.
To reduce the overall sugar content of your juices and smoothies, I recommend using a fruit-to-vegetable ratio of at least 1:2 or even 1:3, as vegetables tend to be much lower in sugar. In other words, for every two servings of fruit you include add 4-6 servings of vegetables.
4. Throw Some Veggies on the Grill
If you like to set up your grill for a good barbecue, switch up your routine by adding a nice variety of vegetables to the menu. Veggies go great on the grill and serve as healthier alternatives to classic side dishes like potato salad and macaroni and cheese. Some of my personal favorites include bell peppers, red onion, red cabbage, asparagus, zucchini, broccoli and corn on the cob.
When grilling vegetables, it’s good to skewer them or use a grilling basket. You can also use veggies for flavorful kebabs.
5. Enjoy Veggie Omelets and Pizza
When it comes to traditional hearty dishes like omelets and pizza, go the vegetarian route by including lots of veggies like leafy greens, bell or hot peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, tomatoes and even garlic. Since most of them are low in calories and high in fiber, adding large portions to these dishes can substantially curb your appetite helping reduce your urges to overeat. This is especially beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss.
6. Make Them a Side Dish
Whether you’re eating at home or dining out, vegetables make the perfect side dish for any entree. Some of the most convenient and versatile options include broccoli, asparagus, spinach, carrots, kale, cauliflower, sweet potato, corn, mixed squash and mushrooms. These veggies are most nutritious when consumed raw, steamed, lightly sautéed, baked or grilled.
To really boost the flavor and overall nutritional value of the veggies you eat, don’t hesitate to spruce them up with plenty of fresh herbs and spices!
7. Fall in Love with Soups and Stews
Soups and stews are two of the best ways to get sizeable portions of vegetables in a single dish. Ingredients like green cabbage, onions, carrots, garlic, broccoli, ginger, celery, bell peppers and corn are among the tastiest. When it comes to veggie-based soups and stews, it’s best to consume those that are broth-based as opposed to creamy ones.
It’s also important that you don’t overcook vegetables during boiling, as doing so can reduce their overall nutritional quality. Your vegetables should always be soft but not mushy.
8. Vegefy Your Sandwiches
To boost the overall nutritional value of any sandwich and get more vegetables in your diet, add a wide variety of fresh veggies across the color spectrum. Since sandwiches are a staple item at most fast-food chains, this shouldn’t be at all difficult to do. No matter where you are, take full advantage of every vegetable that’s offered and don’t be afraid to request “extra.”
For a tasty, wholesome sandwich at the very least you should include plenty of leafy greens, cucumber or pickles, bell peppers, tomato and onions.
9. Eat Raw Vegetables as Snacks
Snack time is the best time to eat vegetables. Though vegetables can be quite nutritious when cooked, eating them in raw form allows you to reap their full nutritional benefits. Raw vegetables that make good snacks include broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, beets and celery sticks and they’re all very easy to come by.
If the sound of raw veggies doesn’t excite you, make them more enjoyable and even more nutritious by using healthy fats like peanut butter, hummus or even our homemade ranch as dips.
And there you have it – Nine simple ways to get more vegetables in your diet. Most people just don’t eat enough vegetables on a daily basis. Whether you’re looking to increase your intake of veggies or just searching for more creative ways to eat them, following these tips will ensure that you get at least 2-3 daily servings of vegetables in a a satisfying and enjoyable way.