Vegetables and whole foods are classic ingredients for a healthy diet. Most of us do not eat nearly enough, leaving us deficient in fiber and important nutrients. Integrating vegetables into daily recipes and menus for a family can be challenging if you're used to the standard meat-and-potatoes diet. Here's how to liven up your mealtimes with vegetables and whole foods that everyone will enjoy.
Make Superb Soups
Soup is cheap and very easy to make. When made with bone broth it's even better because the broth adds vitamins and minerals to the soup. Blending in a variety of vegetables is an ideal way to get more vitamins into your diet. Soups are great for using up old vegetables, and they also freeze well. Mix in a few extra lentils to bulk out the soup, and you have a hearty meal full of goodness on a cold day.
A one-pot meal is perfect for a supper dish, and adding vegetables is an excellent way of getting more fiber and vitamins in the diet. Try a tasty stew or curry which are simple to put together. Or, go for a Moroccan tagine, which is bursting with flavors and has dried fruits as well as vegetables within the dish. Don't forget to make double portions so you can freeze the surplus, saving you time in the kitchen.
Make a Colorful Plate
One of the great things about vegetables is the color. Instead of a meat and potato-colored plate of food, go for a variety of colors in the meal. You can even get kids to eat as many different colors as they can. Salads also look great with colorful vegetables, such as red radishes and tomatoes, yellow pepper and orange carrot. Add quinoa as a protein accompaniment, and you have a nutritious meal.
Get Organized with Packed Lunches
Being prepared with packed lunches saves money and avoids snacking on sugary food. Store lunches in the refrigerator overnight and take them to work or school the next day. Pack the portions into lunch boxes and you have a cheap lunch full of vegetables to enjoy. Alternatively, chop some celery, carrot, and pepper the evening before and use them in a hummus dip for lunchtime. You can add grated carrot or chopped celery to a sandwich and take some vegetable sticks to work as a snack to enjoy on a break. If you take a salad to work, consider making a salad in a jar for a quick and easy delicious lunch that's got a lot of veggies.
- 1-4 T. dressing (lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil plus herbs is great)
- Then firm veggies (carrots, celery, jicama, etc)
- Then proteins (tuna, cooked egg, diced leftover chicken, etc)
- Then soft veggies (zucchini, avocado, cucumbers, etc)
- Then nuts and seeds salad greens (add a lot, stuff them in there)
- To serve the salad turn it over back and empty it onto a plate or into a bowl
- Dressing will wind up on top, coating your salad.
- These can be made 3-5 days worth at a time for a quick grab-and-go lunch
Have a Meat-Free Day
Going at least one day a week without eating meat allows you to be creative with using a variety of vegetables and whole foods. A vegetable curry can be made with carrot, eggplant, and other vegetables but can be bulked out with chickpeas or lentils. Try a stir-fry with corn, mushrooms, and peppers or create a tasty salad with whole grains and a variety of vegetables.
Create Some Juices
Vegetables in juices can taste surprisingly good and are an excellent way to increase your vitamin uptake. They can be mixed with fruits or combined with other vegetables to make a variety of drinks. Try mixing kale or carrots to create a range of colorful juices to enjoy with breakfast. While there is some controversy over the juicing versus smoothies issue I believe there's room for both. Juicing can add a lot of enzymes and nutrients to the diet, especially beneficial when you've been eating away from home or “off plan.”
Grow Your Own
One of the best ways to get kids and fussy eaters to eat more vegetables is to get them to grown their own. Salads, tomatoes, beans and many other vegetables can be grown in just a few square feet of dirt. Many can even be grown in a pot for container gardening. Adding a few herbs gives you a choice of flavors for salads and cooking. Anything homegrown is sure to look good on a plate and taste even better.
By taking a few simple steps your vegetable intake will increase with very little effort and you'll enjoy some fabulous flavors.