First of all, why should we eat more veggies? For being healthy, of course! Fruits and veggies are a great source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They help you maintain you metabolism, keep diseases away and stay healthy. What’s not to love about that?
But our busy lifestyles and poor diet choices keep us from bringing in all that goodness into our body.
I challenged myself to get creative and find ways to include them in my current lifestyle, when I made a resolution beginning of this year to eat fruits and veggies at least twice a day.
Here are 6 tricks that I found to work for me. Hope you will find them useful, too.
1. Prep ahead, make it available: After a long day at work, cleaning, chopping and cooking veggies seems like a daunting task, right? How about, if you do the cleaning and chopping ahead of time? I have started washing and gently paper-towel-drying the veggies before they get into my refrigerator. The chopping happens over a weekend or while watching TV. How about you and your partner do it together once a week? Put on some nice music, how about a drink and some nuts to munch on? It does not always have to be a chore, you know? ;-)
Bonus tip: I like to store the chopped veggies in empty glass jars. They look good, last longer and are ready when I need them. Pretty and convenient, don’t you think?
2. Add veggies to other non-vegetable dishes: Now that you have prepped ahead, you’d feel like using those veggies in your meal more. So how do you do that? My kids taught me a solution to this. They would eat veggies without too much complain if they were eating Maggie Noodles. The same veggies would be discarded as a separate side dish. So go ahead and add them to your regular rice, pasta, noodles and quesadilas. Or add them to soups that you usually make for dinner. Flavours and possibilities are endless.
3. Make it a snack: My little one, will pick out most veggies from her plate. But show her a packet of baby carrots or little sticks of baby cucumbers and she will happily munch on them. That’s exactly what I think we can do too. Substitute one of your daily snacks with a vegetable option. Same thing with fruits. I was not a big fruit lover or fruit eater. My husband started making little fruit cubes and packing them as a snack for me and our kids every day. I substituted my morning coffee in office with this fruit snack. Substitute good sugar for not-so-good sugar.
4. Embrace different cuisines: Sometimes familiarity just breeds contempt. It is true for veggies too. Eating the same vegetable the same way for years, kinda makes you have opinion about them. Ideas like broccoli is boring, spinach tastes like paper etc take root in your head for years. May be one way to break free of these notions is to try out something different. How about adding asian-stir-fried veggies to quesadilla’s ? Yum!!
5. Try new ingredients in old recipes: When we moved to the US from India, my family had a learning curve with food. I started using the new veggies we found here, but cooked it in our traditional Indian style.
6. Make it flavorful: This tip is courtesy my mom and her incredible cooking skills. She can cook an ordinary, everyday looking head of cabbage in so many different ways that you could be eating cabbage daily for a week and won’t even complain. You can increase the flavour quotient of any dish by adding a variety of herbs and spices. A sprig of cilantro can add a dash of freshness to your salad. Chopped mint can transform cucumber + yogurt dip. Parsley in lentil soup? Oh yes, please!
Bonus tip – make it colorful: If flavour is not really your thing, or you have little kiddies (picky eaters) in the house, try adding visual interest. Use cookie cutters to shape everyday sandwhiches and salad veggies. Or go more elaborate like my friend at the Little Food Junction with her rainbow salad, christmas tree and zoo sandwiches. Involve kids in this and you have a fun family activity.
There you are. I sincerely hope these tips help you to start eating more veggies and you are inspired to get a little closer to your health resolutions for this year.
Do you have any favorite tip to eat more healthy? Please do share. I would love to learn from you.
Eat well and stay healthy, ~Varada