Growing up my mom made sure that I ate vegetables everyday. Even on a Friday night when we ate pizza, she would make sure that I had a side of green beans or broccoli along with my pepperoni slices. So I had a very good foundation regarding the importance of eating healthy. However, once I got older and went off to college that quickly changed. Fast food and Bar food became my meals of choice. I very rarely ate vegetables routinely. After I made the decision to make healthier choices (read my About section for details on my journey), I really struggled with coming up with ways to add the recommended servings of vegetables to my diet. After some experimenting and trial and error, I came up with 6 different ways that I could start enjoying them. I’m sharing them with you here. To make things even simpler, they all start with the letter ‘S’.
1. Soups - homemade, super simple, quick and easy. Throw in some protein, tons of veggies, and some good spices. This one is extra satisfying in the winter time, when it’s cold and snuggling up with a good soup or stew is so satisfying.
2. Salads - dark leafy greens with 2-4 other veggies, along with your protein & healthy fat. Salads are one of the easiest ways to get in more vegetables.
3. Smoothies - add veggies to your smoothie which is a simple and convenient option. A bonus of smoothies is that if you are someone who does not like the taste of vegetables, the fruits in smoothies will often mask the taste.
4. Sides - like my mom did with me on pizza night, throw in a side of vegetables with whatever you’re eating for your lunch and dinner. Choose from steamed, sauteed, roasted, or raw.
5. Snacks - veggies and a healthy dip like hummus makes for a really good snack.
6. Sandwiches - add some greens and other veggies to make your sandwiches more nutrient dense; choose lettuce wraps for grain free/gluten free options.
For me, the easiest ways are salads and smoothies, but see what you like. Taste and texture is the name of the game. Don’t think boring and bland; there are so many ways to add great flavors.
Lee Wattenberg, a professor at the University of Minnesota who has been studying cancer prevention for 30 years stresses the importance of fruits and vegetables in cancer prevention. He states, “Diets that are rich in vegetables and fruits are protective against many cancers. There is an enormous amount of work on this”. He goes on to say that, “Over the last decade a fairly large number of prevention compounds have been found in fruits and vegetables. When you look at the totality, it’s quite impressive.”
With all its health benefits, making an effort to eat more vegetables is definitely a good habit worth forming. Try out some of these practical suggestions and see if you have more luck in getting in your recommended 5 servings/day.