“Eat your vegetables!” A tale as old as time. The truth is that we could all stand to each more veggies. Did you know that it’s recommended for adults to eat a minimum of 2 to 3 servings of vegetables every single day? 1 serving of vegetables amounts to about 1 cup cooked (be it steamed, roasted, or even air fried!), 1 cup raw, or 2 cups of leafy greens. If you’re thinking “I don’t eat anywhere near that,” you’re not alone! Research shows that about 10% of folks reach that goal every day. So how can you get more vegetables into your diet?
Aside from a salad for lunch, or vegetables on your dinner plate – there are loads of opportunities to boost your daily veggie intake. Breakfast, for example, is an easily overlooked meal with tons of potential. Try these simple breakfast tips to flip the script on vegetables, and start each day powered by plants!
1. Enhance your eggs
Omelets, scrambles, frittatas and more; eggs are an amazing, whole food vehicle for breakfast vegetables. Here is a vegetable packed recipe for a frittata you can cook once and enjoy throughout the week.
Color your morning eggs with a mix of your favorite vegetables! Try brightening up your scrambled eggs with red, orange, yellow, and green peppers. Whip up a frittata with a mushrooms, onions, and broccoli. Serve your poached egg on top of a bed of sauteed kale & Swiss chard. The opportunities are limitless! Color your morning eggs with a mix of your favorite vegetables! Try brightening up your scrambled eggs with red, orange, yellow, and green peppers. Whip up a frittata with a mushrooms, onions, and broccoli. Serve your poached egg on top of a bed of sauteed kale & Swiss chard. The opportunities are limitless!
2. Serve a scramble
Not a fan of eggs? That’s okay! You can scramble tofu similarly to the way that you scramble eggs. Take a block of extra firm tofu and wrap it in a towel. Place a heavy book on top to let it press out the moisture for 10-15 minutes, and voila! You’ve got tofu that’s ready to go. Mash the tofu with a potato masher or fork until it breaks into tiny crumbles and cook on the stovetop with a delicious blend of spices and, of course, vegetables!
3. Top a toast
You’ve likely heard all the buzz about avocado toast, but veggie toast can also be all the rage! Spread on your favorite toast topping (we recommend trying guacamole, hummus, or even ricotta cheese!) and decorate your toast with tomatoes, asparagus, peas, and all your favorite veggies. If you aren’t that fond of bread, try a bagel, English muffin, naan, or another buildable grain. You can even make toast out of thin slice of sweet potato!
4. Strengthen your smoothie
Some of us need more “tricking” than others to increase our vegetable intake. Toss a handful of your favorite leafy greens, avocado, sweet potato, beets, or cauliflower into your favorite smoothie recipe (here’s one you can try!). Find a balance of fruits and veggies that works for you, and you may not even notice the difference while reaping the rewards of the added healthy punch!
5. Start out with a salad
I know it may sound a little crazy, but don’t knock it until you try it! Salads are simple lunch and dinnertimes staples – so who says we can’t eat them all day long!? Consider trying one of your favorite staple salad recipes for breakfast or branch out and try out a new one. You can even top your salad with a fried or poached egg to keep the breakfast theme alive.
6. Have a hash
Sometimes breakfast is not the top priority but making a simple hash can help to put breakfast and vegetables at the top of your to-do list. A “hash” is generally chopped up potatoes cooked in a skillet (or the oven!) with an assortment of additions, like vegetables. Make life easier by creating a hash out of potatoes, and your leftover veggies from last night’s dinner!
7. Shred in some squash
Zucchini, pumpkin, and butternut squash are all easy to shred, and make the perfect addition to your cooking and baking! Add some to a morning muffin recipe, grate them into scrambled eggs, or even toss them into a breakfast casserole. Experiment with the various winter and summer squash to find a go-to that works for you!
8. Play around with a puree
Like shredded vegetables, purees can also be an easy way to add in plants without totally changing your meal. Cook your favorite vegetables until they’re soft and tender, and blend in a blender until smooth. Not sure what veggies to start with? Try sweet potato, carrot, or butternut squash! These purees can be added to a smoothie, baked goods, and even oatmeal for a fun, flavorful twist.
9. Bake a bread
Breads are a staple at breakfast – and can easily serve as a means to add in beneficial vegetables without adding too much volume. The best part about it is that it can be sweet or savory! Try your hand at a sweet zucchini bread or create art on top of a vegetable focaccia for something more savory. You choose!
10. Jumpstart a juice
While fresh juices lack the fiber of whole fruits and vegetables, they still function as a great method to pack in vitamins and minerals when you’re lacking in appetite. Juice a combination of different colored veggies to get the biggest bang for your buck. Just be sure to opt for freshly made juices or ones you prepare yourself versus premade juice and try to limit your juice intake to when you need it the most!
By: Aubrey Redd, MS, RDN, LDN