“Eat more vegetables!” We all hear it, but for many of us it can be challenging to implement. .
So, how do we “eat more vegetables” when we’re crunched for time, have been exasperated from past attempts resulting in more produce wasted than consumed, or are trying to overcome the more enticing pull of non-vegetable foods. Here are three simple ways to get started today:
Save time and reduce waste by keeping frozen veggies stocked . Frozen vegetables sometimes get less attention than their more energetic, smoothie boosting neighbors, frozen fruit, but they are a lifesaver for anyone with limited time (including myself!). These vegetables are picked and frozen at peak freshness to provide optimum nutrition. Even better, they’re peeled and cut so all you have to do is cook. If you’re trying to incorporate more organic produce into your diet, frozen vegetables are often cheaper than the non-frozen option, especially if the non-frozen vegetable is not in peak season. I particularly enjoy keeping leafy greens in my freezer, they’re a great way to sneak veggies into pasta sauces or a batch of beans, and they dont spoil as easily as non-frozen greens. I also enjoy frozen spinach for smoothies since it’s pre-steamed or blanched before packing, helping the cell walls break down to make the nutrients more bio-available, specifically vitamins A and E. Butternut squash is also another great frozen vegetable to add variety to your meal that may not be top of mind. It cooks up faster than raw squash making it an ideal weeknight vegetable to add into pasta, mash up with seasoning or make into a quick fiber rich soup.
Make canned pumpkins and sweet potatoes a year-round staple. Both are rich sources of fiber and beta carotene and are versatile outside of seasonal pies. Since pumpkin doesnt have a strong flavor alone my favorite way of using it is to make a pasta sauce that’s creamy, thick, and luxurious without the addition of cream. It’s also a great addition to meat balls for added moisture resulting in a more tender and juicer meatball. Canned sweet potatoes are a wonderful addition for smoothies to make them creamier, a little sweeter and fuller. Most of us find breakfast the most challenging meal to get veggies into, so adding them to your morning oats or buckwheat porridges is a wonderful treat. Pro tip – you can open a can and use a few spoonfuls throughout the week to prevent food wastage, just make sure it’s packed in an air tight container and stored in the fridge. It’s a great pantry addition to keep on hand that’s also very friendly to your wallet. If you’re feeling adventurous, canned kobucha squash is becoming more common and brings all of the above great benefits as well.
Rotate pre-roasted veggies to use throughout the week. Having a batch of roasted vegetables on hand for the week does require some meal planning, but blocking out a specific day of the week is helpful and most are able to commit to it regularly. I like to season roasted vegetables simply with salt, pepper, and olive oil. That way they can take on any other flavors I throw their way throughout the week. I also like to use this as an opportunity to have some of the more fibrous, harder to digest vegetables ready to go like the cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, romanesco, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage.). Whenever I come across a new vegetable or aren’t sure how to cook something, my default is roasting it for a tasty meal that doesnt require me watching over it. I love roasting a variety of bell peppers and beets to add more color to my diet. Roasting guarantees you’ll have a variety of vegetables ready to be consumed throughout the week, no matter how tired you are. You can add them to your salad with a simple dressing, get creative with your sauces and transport yourself to other parts of the world, or you can munch on them as is.
Vegetables are power houses of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Once you start adding more into your diet you’ll start to feel a positive difference and will never want to turn back!