How to Add Vegetables to Your Diet
Are you trying to improve your health or lose weight? Increasing vegetable intake is one of the easiest and most effective ways to help you reach your health goals. There are so many ways to add more vegetables to your diet, such as including healthy side dishes, snacks, salads, juices, and smoothies. If that isn’t enough, you can learn to sneak them in some of your favorite foods, and even swap unhealthy foods for much healthier options. Aim to eat 2–3 cups (470–710 mL) of vegetables a day so you're getting your daily recommended intake.
Adding Vegetables to Every Meal
Make a goal to add one or two vegetables to every meal.You can include raw, cooked, fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables in your meals. Try a new vegetable every week based on your personal tastes, the meal you are making, how you prepare it, your budget, and what is in season.
- For instance, if you do not like cooked carrots, try eating them raw. If fresh asparagus is too expensive or not in season, try canned.
- Don't forget about breakfast! You can make a veggie omelet or have a salad with your eggs and toast.
- Try to add bright and dark green colors when possible. The more colorful a vegetable, the higher the nutritional value. Some examples include red onions, red and yellow bell peppers, and purple cabbage.
Add vegetables to top off almost any dish.Prepare your favorite veggies, such as zucchini, onion, and tomatoes, and sprinkle them over your plate. This will give your meals more substance without unnecessary calories.
- You can pile pizza with veggies, whether it’s ordered or made at home! Or cover a meat dish with vegetables, like grilled onions and peppers on top of sirloin.
Explore the endless combinations of salads.Experiment with replacing your lunch or dinner with a salad, or have a side salad with your meal. Mix up your salads with various leafy greens, vegetables, and dressings so you don’t get sick of them. If your salad is a full meal, make sure to add plenty of protein so it will satisfy your appetite and prevent unnecessary snacking.
- For example, lunch could be a spinach salad with red onions, Italian dressing, and small chunks of chicken and hard-boiled eggs, while dinner could be steak with an arugula and bell pepper salad on the side.
Make loaded veggie quesadillas.If Mexican food is a favorite of yours, then try veggie quesadillas. Stuff two tortillas with cheese and some of your favorite vegetables. This can include bell peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms and red onions. This meal will leave you feeling satisfied with the nutrients you need.
Try homemade vegetable soup.This is an easy option that doesn’t take much effort, and is especially comforting on cold winter days. You can even put it in a thermos and take it with you!
- Simply bring a pot of vegetable stock to high heat, then add seasonings and some of your favorite chopped vegetables, like chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Tomatoes, corn, and peppers are also excellent choices. Bring down the heat to a simmer, and let the vegetables cook in the stock for about 30 minutes, depending on the recipe. Now you have a hearty vegetable dinner you can drink!
Hide vegetables in your favorite meals.Vegetables will add new flavor to once-bland dishes, but will be almost unrecognizable. You can choose to add whole vegetables, or blend everything together.
Making Healthy Substitutions
Swap out high-carb foods with cauliflower.Cauliflower is an amazingly versatile vegetable. Although it is white and almost tasteless, it can be blended, baked, and fried to replace almost any food known for being unhealthy and high in carbs.
- Try blending a head of cauliflower with your favorite mashed potato seasonings for a guilt-free potato substitute, or pan-frying finely chopped cauliflower in olive oil to make “rice.” With some extra work, blended cauliflower can even be made into pizza crust.
Transform zucchini into tasty pasta.Cut a zucchini into small, thin strips with a knife or potato peeler, then microwave for two to three minutes for a vegetable that has a similar taste and consistency to cooked pasta.
- You can invest in a zucchini spiralizer that will cut the vegetable into angel hair-like spirals in seconds.
- A popular zucchini “zoodle” dish is basic spaghetti with meatballs, but with “zoodles” instead of traditional pasta. Try this with some veggies mixed into your spaghetti sauce for a one-two punch with your vegetable intake!
Replace most bread with lettuce.Cut out this food staple by finding large heads of lettuce at the supermarket and experimenting with what works for you. This will eliminate unwanted calories and carbs, and give you the extra nutrients you need.
- Replace the tortilla in a wrap with a leaf of lettuce, or roll up a beef patty to replace the buns on a burger. This little trick will give you the pleasure of great food and the satisfaction of a healthy meal.
- Try a lettuce wrap with hummus, red pepper, and grilled chicken for a salad snack on-the-go.
- Make a traditional burger patty with any kind of fixings you want on top, like onions, tomatoes, or even spinach. Then wrap in a lettuce leaf and serve!
Drink low-sodium vegetable juice instead of fruit juice.Vegetable juice is a great, easy way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet. It's also healthier than fruit juice because it doesn't have as much sugar. Try to drink a glass of vegetable juice every day.
Snacking on Vegetables
Eat raw carrots, celery, or any other raw vegetable as snacks.Cut the raw veggies into sticks and eat with low-fat dips for a refreshing snack.
- You can make your own dip by mixing unflavored yogurt with your favorite seasonings, such as parsley, dill, and/or onion.
Drink your vegetables.If you are often pressed for time, or hate the taste and texture of most vegetables, juicing is an ideal alternative. Opt for low-sodium juices with as few ingredients as possible if you decide to get juice from the store.
- You can even invest in a juicer and have all of your favorite juices made in minutes. This significantly increases the nutrients and reliability of the contents compared to store-bought juice, and you can mix and match whatever flavors you wish.
- Some juice combinations include, but are definitely not limited to, mango and spinach, apple and celery, carrot and strawberry, and apple with lime.
Blend vegetables into smoothies.Smoothies make a great breakfast item or filling snack. Blend together any vegetables with yogurt and frozen fruit. You always taste the sweet fruit, but almost never taste the vegetables.
- Berries make a great base for the fruit portion, such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. Mix these fruits with yogurt and a handful of spinach or kale, and your body will thank you kindly.
Bake kale or zucchini into tasty chips.If you love potato chips, consider making your own healthier chips using kale or zucchini. They have a very similar taste, with fewer calories and carbs! And it doesn’t take much to make a very large batch.
- Place kale or sliced zucchini on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle a small amount of salt over every chip, and bake for over two hours. They should come out crisp and crunchy!
QuestionWhat if I don't like vegetables?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThere's no way to avoid vegetables on a diet. If you want to get close the same effect as a vegetable, then eat lots of fruits.Thanks!
- Hiding vegetables in main dishes can ensure that fussy eaters are getting enough vegetables in their diet.
- Raw vegetables will have more nutrients than cooked or canned. Cooking, canning, and even freezing can reduce the nutrient value in a vegetable. Eat raw vegetables when possible, but any vegetables are better than no vegetables at all.
- Avocados are a nutrient superfood, and go well in salads if you want to change things up. Guacamole is a good dip alternative, or you can eat it by itself.
- Try to avoid fatty dressings and toppings. There are dozens of dressings at stores that contain hidden sugars and excessive fats that can hinder healthy progress. Always read the ingredient list before purchasing dressings.
Video: Healthy Eating: Vegetable patties
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