Creative Ways to Increase Veggie Intake
By Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN
Did you know that most of us don’t meet the recommended amounts of vegetables in our diets? As a registered dietitian and nutritionist, I’m all about the energy I get from vegetables.
Getting your veggies is also the way to go for disease prevention, weight management, vitality and just overall good health. This is why I urge you to think about veggies all day long, and not just at dinnertime. Of course, doing so is a lot easier said than done, so I’ve outlined new and creative ways you can add veggies to your plate at every meal, snacks too!
- Breakfast can be an excellent opportunity to incorporate a few vegetables. My favorite is a spinach and feta cheese omelet, but also think peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini and more. You can make an omelet or just a simple scramble.
- Juice: Add Tomato or V8 juice to your diet. Or juice your favorites in a juicer – try carrots, celery, cabbage, cucumber or kale.
- Breakfast sides: White potatoes, sweet potatoes and grilled tomatoes all make delicious sides for your eggs.
- Smoothies: Add a handful of raw spinach or kale to your morning smoothie. You probably won’t even taste it!
- Think beyond just crunching on carrots! Have a variety of raw veggies like red pepper, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas and celery. To make it more interesting, dip into hummus — make your own beet hummus for extra veggies — or a low-fat dressing or guacamole dip!
- Have you tried dried edamame or broad bean crisps? These crispy, crunchy snacks can deliver a punch of protein and fiber.
- Remember ants on a log? Go back to childhood, spread some peanut butter on your celery and decorate with a few raisins.
Lunch and Dinner
- Salads are an easy way to get an assortment of veggies. Instead of solely lettuce and a vinaigrette, add corn, beans, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber or peppers.
- Puree veggies into sauces. Butternut squash, carrots, peas, and spinach are some of my go-to veggies that make excellent purees!
- Soups are a great way to get a nice supply of veggies without even realizing it. Choose a bean-based soup like lentil or black bean. Add peppers, onion, and tomatoes. Chili is a hearty soup that can carry a lot of veggies. And of course, all broth-based soups are easy to include carrots, celery, potatoes, kale, cabbage and tomatoes.
- Flavor up your sandwich and pile it with a hummus spread and raw spinach or romaine for extra crunch. Leftover roasted veggies in a wrap or pita sandwich are also great choices that require little effort. In fact, you can also keep it simple with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich.
- Choose pastas made from edamame, black beans, lentils, or chickpeas. You can find a variety of them here.
- Roast your veggies for a more desirable taste. My children love kale chips, and they are so easy! Just devein the kale, spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy. I also love to roast broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and eggplant.
- Cauliflower! Make cauliflower rice or sub out half of the potatoes and use cauliflower to make cauliflower mashed potatoes. I have also used cauliflower-based pizza crusts. Who knew cauliflower was so versatile?
About the Author
Tara Gidus Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN is a sports dietitian in Orlando, FL. She works with the US Tennis Association, University of Central Florida athletics, World Wrestling Entertainment, Leadbetter Golf Academies and Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute. She was the team dietitian for the Orlando Magic for 10 years. She also wrote Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition for Dummies and Co-authored Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies. Tara enjoys being active with her husband and 4 boys.
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