I often tell my patients when it comes to things that are good for you more is not necessarily better….except when it comes to veggies!
If there is one nutritional recommendation that outlasts all the crazy diet fads and fits into every tailored nutritional plan it is to EAT MORE VEGGIES!
Eating more vegetables is one of the simplest dietary choices with the most profound health benefits.
Vegetables are nutrient dense – providing a good dose of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients in every serving. The plant chemicals not only prevent disease but promote optimal health!
Veggies also tend to be high fibre foods. Fibre helps to reduce blood sugar spikes, promotes healthy bowel movements, and balances cholesterol levels.
Studies have shown that people who eat more veggies have lower rates of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. These same veggie loving folks are more likely to maintain healthy body weight, which is linked to a reduction of several different chronic disease rates.
When it comes to cancer, veggies pack a preventative punch. Sarah Toule, from the World Cancer Research Fund, says: “Research shows just how incredibly important vegetables and fruit are as part of a healthy diet. In fact, they’re essential for maintaining a healthy weight, which our own evidence has shown reduces the risk of 11 common cancers.”
Here are a few suggestions to help you increase your veggie intake to help you feel your best and stay that way!
Soups and Stews: When vegetables are in chili, soups, and stews, they get really soft and the flavours all blend together. Think about a pot of chicken noodle soup: there are loads of vegetables in this soup and even the pickiest eaters love it. So when you’re making your next batch of chilli, soup, or stew why not throw in an extra serving of veggies (or two). The idea is to get creative, cut veggies up small and add in a variety of different veggies or consider pureed options like this delicious cauliflower soup!
Availability: Make sure the veggies are on hand and available. When you or your child is hungry and open the fridge to get a snack and there are baby carrots, celery sticks, salsa and guacamole, you’ll be more tempted to eat veggies for your snack!
Super Sneaky Smoothies: Hide vegetables in smoothies. Leafy greens blend up nicely and, if paired with berries and 1/2 banana, they won’t change the taste – only the health benefits! Cooked greens are also a great addition to smoothies! Why not have some fun with your blender. A few to try: cucumber, cooked kale, baby spinach, and beets.
Change the Texture! Dehydrate or bake veggies so that they are crunchy and chip or french fry-like. Kale chips are always a hit, but you also make homemade sweet potato fries, cauliflower steaks, plantain chips, and even green bean fries. We love turnip fries at our house and you could use this recipe for any root veggie 🙂
Sauces and Dips Galore: If you or your child don’t like vegetables plain, consider them instead as a vehicle for awesome dips and sauces. Hummus is versatile and tasty, but rather than eat it with pita or crackers, try baby carrots, cucumber, or red bell peppers. If salads are boring you to death, maybe you need to explore some new salad dressings to jazz up the salad scene. You can also make your own pasta sauce with lots of yummy veggies. Chunky or pureed, mild or spicy are options that can be made depending on what you like.
Weekly New Veggie Challenge: Commit to one new vegetable a week. Baby steps, right? One veggie at a time might be a good way to ease into a more vegetable-rich diet. They say that kids need to be exposed to a new food ten times before they really know if they like it or not (and most of the time after ten tries they end up liking it)! So don’t give up if you don’t like something on the first try 😉
Pureed Power: When a vegetable is pureed, you can easily “sneak it” in to increase the nutritional value of the dishes you normally like. Pureed veggies obviously can be added to soups and stews, but also pasta sauces, gravies, salad dressings, casseroles, and even used in baking. One of our family favourites is a take on the Oh She Glows cheese sauce which we made a couple of tweaks to and love it in a mac’n cheese. Serve it with a tossed salad and your getting a few servings of veggies in one meal!
Drink your veggies: One super efficient way to get in a good dose of veggies is to drink ’em! When you consume fresh-made juice, it’s like getting an infusion of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole plant. Make juicing part of your regular diet to benefit from a wide variety of plant nutrients.
*If you live in the Moncton area, check out JUICD! They are currently offering weekly delivery of fresh-made juices to your door.
More of what you do like: If you really, really can’t seem to eat more veggies and you’ve tried all of my suggestions, then focus on which vegetables you or your child actually do like and increase the consumption of those veggies. Even if the veggie diet isn’t varied, the benefit will come from having more vegetables on a regular basis.
Focus on Fruits: And my last suggestion, if it’s a constant fight to eat vegetables but you or your child love fruits, then focus on eating a wide variety of fruits. The one downside to eating too many fruit is the high sugar content (even though it is ‘natural’ sugar, sugar is still sugar and contributes to health concerns when consumed in excess). But, fruits are still loaded in vitamins, water, and fiber, so if you can’t do a lot of vegetables, try to at least get some more fruit in the diet…and maybe start working on blending in some veggies using the suggestions above 😉
#11 (cause who could stop at 10??)
Buy Local. Imagine bitting into a crunchy carrot and the smell alone makes your mouth water..Or a crisp cucumber that leaves juice running down your chin..How about making a delicious salad and the lettuce is so crisp and tasty you don’t even need dressing? Those are the kinds of flavours and textures you get when your food is fresh. BUY LOCAL. It’s just better!