Trying to get at least two and a half cups of vegetables per day may seem overwhelming. However, there are many opportunities to sneak vegetables into your meals and snacks. Doing so will not only add more nutrition into your day, but also more color, flavor and excitement. Shopping for fresh vegetables in season will guarantee maximum flavor and nutrition as well as a lower price. If fresh vegetables are not available, frozen vegetables packaged without sauce are another great option. They may even contain more nutrients than fresh vegetables because they are flash frozen at their freshest. Try a few of the following tips to include more vegetables in your day and soon you will find eating vegetables has become an easy habit to keep.
* Clean and cut vegetables when you arrive home from grocery shopping so that they are easy to grab for quick snacks out of the refrigerator.
* Pre-pack single-sized servings in sandwich bags for snacks “on the go.”
* Throw a handful of greens in your morning smoothie along with some frozen fruit or a banana. The smoothie will turn green but you will only taste the fruit!
* Add fresh or frozen spinach, mushrooms or diced eggplant to your pasta sauce for a heartier pasta dinner.
* Sauté veggies with beans for a flavorful and nutritious veggie taco filling
* Use dark leafy greens in place of a wrap or bread to add nutrition and crunch to any “sandwich”.
* Put tomatoes, green peppers, broccoli, onions or spinach on pizza for a change from sausage and pepperoni.
* Grill vegetable kabobs with onions, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.
* Dip baby carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or celery into your favorite dip (try hummus) in place of chips.
* Keep a bag of organic edamame (baby soy beans) in the freezer. You can pop it in the microwave for a quick fiber-filled snack.
* Fill an omelet with your favorite veggies for a diner treat in the comfort of your own home.
* Sauté finely diced veggies like carrots, turnips, peppers, even broccoli or zucchini and add to your favorite grain like rice or millet for a flavorful and nutritious pilaf.
* Pile your sandwich high with vegetables. Branch out from lettuce and tomato and try cucumbers, spinach, carrot slices, radishes and more.
* Start your lunch with a bowl of vegetable soup.
* Have a salad with every meal. Start with the salad as the water and fiber will fill you up and you will be less likely to over indulge on less healthy options.
By Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD
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