The other day on The Balanced Platter I encouraged you to say “yes” to more fruits and vegetables. Many of us are pretty good at eating fruit. It’s sweet, it’s generally ready-to-eat with little or no preparation, and it’s convenient. You can just grab a banana and walk out the door. An apple makes an excellent afternoon snack. And I’ve yet to find a kid that doesn’t like some kind of fruit. But vegetables? That’s a bit harder.
Incorporating vegetables into your diet can be done, and with delicious results. Vegetables don’t have to be the most-hated part of the meal, something to moan and groan about, or an afterthought. It just takes a bit of rethinking!
Start your day with a veggie! It seems most people don’t think about vegetables during breakfast. This is where green smoothies have gotten such a positive following – sneaking in a bit of spinach into a fruit-filled, creamy beverage seems an easy way to add them. But vegetables at breakfast doesn’t have to stop there. How about adding a squash hash to your morning? Or a few spoonfuls of salsa to top your eggs? Throw some greens into a quiche, or zucchini into a frittata for a delicious and healthy addition. And as always, a veggie-packed omelet is a great way to get a serving of vegetables in before noon.
Step outside the salad. A salad certainly is a simple and easy way to ensure you get vegetables at lunch. But if you’re anything like me, the same salad can get old day in and day out, so I try to change it up a bit. Some days, a kale salad is just the thing. In summer, cucumber salads are refreshing. But there’s more than just salads out there. Vegetables can also make excellent dips, which are great for lunch! How about green pea hummus or fire-roasted tomato almond dip, or even chipotle butternut dip? And when the weather is chilly, soup is a great way to add more veggies. Celeriac soup, cabbage soup, or curried acorn squash soup are just a few of my favorites.
Get creative and don’t be afraid to try new vegetables! Dinner is when many of us make acquaintance with a vegetable. However, we often fall into a rut of only preparing a few vegetables, leaving so many other good ones in the dust (or worse, in the vegetable crisper, to wilt). This is when you can let your vegetable creativity shine. Grab a new-to-you veggie and learn to cook something delicious! Try collard greens in a new way – with sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms. Bok choy is delicious and easy to make with sesame seeds and shiitake mushrooms. Bacon or prosciutto makes every veggie better – these Brussels sprouts are a great example. I personally love using unique spices to change up my dinner vegetable routine, as I did with these curried kabocha squash wedges.
What if you have picky eaters? Sometimes, you can even sneak veggies into a meal without anyone realizing, such as with my eggplant-tahini pasta sauce or even in smaller amounts in a meatloaf (a meal ALL of my picky eaters will eat!). Make a simple mash from different veggies, such as turnips and rutabagas. Go totally hard-core with your vegetable-sneaking, and make this secret ingredient chocolate cake. You can also try to woo them with vibrant colors – my stepdaughter actually likes beets, and I won her over with their gorgeous hue.
What are some of your favorite vegetables to eat? How do you successfully incorporate more vegetables into your day?