An adventurous girl cooks, eats and explores in Europe.
Struggling to get enough vegetables into your day? Here are a few simple ways to sneak a few more servings into your diet.
1. Always have a side dish of vegetables.
Even if the main course involves vegetables, we always try to put at least one plain vegetable side into the meal. So if I make a butternut squash lasagna, I would make peas alongside it, and maybe Brussels sprouts. If we make black bean and veggie tacos, we will usually have plain broccoli on the side. It is an easy way to increase your vegetable intake and fill you up faster with healthier options. Even if you just eat a little bit of it, at least you are getting that much more of a serving and eating a little less of whatever else is in the meal.
2. Grate carrots into any sauce, soup, vegetable medley, etc.
I always try sneaking carrots into things. They don’t have too strong of a flavor, so throwing some in doesn’t have to change the meal. It is easy to dice a small section of carrot into very tiny pieces and add it to your salsa. Or grate carrot into a soup or stew you are making as part of the broth. You can even throw shredded or grated carrots onto a sandwich to add some different texture to it.
3. Think color.
Strive to make your meals colorful. If you have a salad, try to get at least 3 colors other than green in there. If you make a pizza, make sure the top of it has a few different shades. The more color you get into your meal, the more vegetables you will have in it. If you shop with the goal of getting produce (fresh or frozen) of every color, you will have many more vegetables to choose from when cooking.
4. Be willing to improvise.
Maybe a recipe doesn’t call for many vegetables in it, but you can add a few extra of your own. One of my favorite Mexican restaurants back home made their rice with carrots and potatoes, and their fajitas had mushroom and broccoli in addition to the more commonly used vegetables. Go ahead and add in some artichokes, peppers, zucchini, or whatever else you have on hand into your pasta dish. It’ll be more flavorful and more filling. And once the cutting board is out, it isn’t much more work to chop some carrot and eggplant with those onions.
5. Try a new vegetable or a new recipe for it.
Ok, this is arguably not that simple, but I think it is well worth it. Many people think they dislike a certain vegetable even though they have never tried it or had it only once. Give these vegetables a fair chance. Try a new type of squash you’ve never had, or cook your Brussels Sprouts a new way. (It took me three tries to find a preparation method I loved for Brussels sprouts but now I can’t get enough!) Maybe you don’t hate eggplant, maybe you just didn’t like it in that one dish. What is the worst that can happen? If you widen the range of vegetables you eat, you won’t get tired of the same old thing with every meal.