tips for eating more vegetables

14 Tips for Eating More Vegetables

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According to science [1], eating a diet that’s rich in vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cancer, improved heart health, enhanced brain function, and longer life.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that you require 2½ cups of vegetables each day for better health [2], which is about 9 servings. If you want to improve your health by eating more vegetables, here are 14 effective ways to do it:

1. Buy More Vegetables

fresh produce at the grocery store

It goes without saying that the more vegetables you have in your house, the higher your chances of actually eating them.

Simply put, you should avoid buying unhealthy food items when you go to shop for groceries and instead load up on vegetables.

The less access you have to junk food items, the higher your chances of making the healthy option (i.e. eating more vegetables) when hunger strikes.

2. Stock up on Frozen Vegetables

Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as the fresh ones [3]. So, when you go grocery shopping, don’t forget to buy some.

The great thing about frozen vegetables is that you can quickly and prepare meals out of them in your microwave or stovetop.

You can choose single vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower, green beans, or peas, or you can try a blend of vegetables.

3. Prepare Your Vegetables in Advance

Once you have bought your vegetables, you need to wash and chop your fresh or frozen vegetables and store them in your refrigerator.

That way, when it comes to preparing a meal, you will simply grab your already prepared vegetables and toss them into whatever you are cooking.

The result is a healthier meal without too much of an effort. You will also waste less food since you will have a lot of ready-to-go vegetables on hand, which means that you will eat your perishables in a timelier fashion.

4. Drink Your Vegetables

carrot juice

Smoothies are more preferable to juices when it comes to drinking your vegetables.

Even if the juice is cold-extracted or slow-pressed, smoothies will always have a higher fiber content and carry a higher nutritional value since it is the entire vegetable that’s being blended and eaten.

For extra creamy smoothies in the morning, you should consider adding in half a zucchini for an additional boost of vitamin C, antioxidants, and improved digestion.

5. Change How You Think About Vegetables

If you are a person that has to fool himself/herself into eating more vegetables, you should consider making a game of it.

Find ways to incorporate vegetables into the foods you already eat.

For instance, you can add vegetable toppings to your pizza, pack your sandwich with extra vegetables, use more vegetables in your omelet, or stir vegetables into your favorite pasta or casserole dish.

6. Eat Your Vegetables First

Vegetables are a rich source of water and fiber, which are both great for helping you feel full.
Unfortunately, when the vast majority of people sit down to eat a meal, they start with the starches and meats and the vegetables afterward.

They eventually find themselves eating less of the healthy food items since they are already so full from other foods. If you reverse the pattern and eat your vegetables first, you will have less room for starches and proteins, which is much healthier.

7. Eat the Vegetable Rainbow Daily

vegetable rainbow on a skewer

Eating a variety of vegetables of different colors helps increase your diet’s nutritional profile [4].

Thinking about all the different produce options and colors can be a fun way to increase your interest and appetite in making the shift to the consumption of more produce.

Eating the vegetable rainbow can be a fun strategy for involving children that need to increase their vegetable consumption too.

8. Eat the Vegetables You Like

To be successful at eating more vegetables, you must eat those that you actually like. You shouldn’t force yourself to eat vegetables that you don’t like. If you cannot stand mushrooms, you should avoid eating them.

If you and your children don’t like celery, avoid it and try something different instead. Still, you shouldn’t be afraid to try out new vegetables since once you find one that you love, it will be a lot easier to eat it regularly.

9. Stick to Simple Recipes

You don’t have to come up with fancy vegetable recipes. After all, most vegetables taste better when either lightly cooked or completely raw. It is the most nutritious way to eat vegetables since they lose nutrients when exposed to water and heat.

If you don’t like thee idea of eating your vegetables raw, the best way to cook them is a quick stir-fry or sauté. You can also steam them lightly.

The only exception here is soup. If you cook your vegetables in a soup, the nutrients will leach out into the broth.

10. Try Making Soup

two bowls of tomato soup

Homemade vegetable soups can be an excellent yet simple way to increase your intake of vegetables. When you cook vegetables in a soup, the nutrients will leach out into the broth. If you drink that broth, you will still be getting the best that vegetables have to offer.

To prepare vegetable soup, cook any quantity of leftover or fresh vegetables until they are tender and add them to a simple broth.

For a heartier soup, you can throw in some leftover cooked brown rice or a can of beans.

11. Swap Out Your Snacks

Instead of snacking on unhealthy food items such as cookies or chips, it can be better to have healthier snack alternatives instead. Some excellent options for you to try out include hummus and baby carrots, peanut butter and celery, or even sugar snap peas.

You should always keep in mind that ½ cup of most vegetables equals one serving.

12. Try Out Some Vegetable Noodles

Carbohydrates usually have a bad reputation, but replacing carbohydrates with nutrient-rich vegetables is a win-win. Sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, and even beets all make excellent vegetable noodles.

For a refreshing summer dish, you can try cold cucumber noodles. Summer squash and zucchini make excellent substitutes for lasagna noodles. Spaghetti squash can be a great substitute for rice noodles. To make the vegetable noodles at home, you can use a spiralizer or a hand peeler.

Alternatively, you can buy them prepackaged at the local grocery store.

13. Try Growing Your Own Vegetables

a basket of garden vegetables

You won’t find produce fresher than that picked fresh from your garden. Growing your own vegetables also makes healthy eating feel increasingly rewarding.

You can add a vegetable garden to your backyard or look for any community gardens in the area you live. Ensure that you only plant low-maintenance crops such as carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, as well as butternut squash.

If you don’t have access to an outdoor garden, you should consider growing herbs such as mint and basil in containers indoors or in your patio or balcony.

Herbs are just like other leafy green vegetables. If you eat them in large enough quantities, they will count as vegetables.

14. Roast Your Vegetables

If you don’t particularly like vegetables, chances are you have never tasted them when properly prepared. Roasting is a simple way to cook vegetables that brings out and even elevates their taste.

A bit of olive oil, some pepper and salt, and lots of dry heat are all you need to give your vegetables a brown, caramelized, and highly delicious flavor.

Summary

Vegetables are full of fiber, contain vitamins, minerals, essential nutrients, and are anti-inflammatory too [5]. Due to this they can help ward off chronic ailments, promote good health, and keep you looking youthful.

If you keep the 14 tips discussed here in mind, you will be on your way to eating more vegetables every day.

Keep everything simple, find your inspiration, and make eating more vegetables as fun as it should be.

Cited Sources

  1. Cancer.Net Editorial Board, Food and Cancer Risk. Found here: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/food-and-cancer-risk
  2. Becky Bell, MS, RD, USDA: Fruit & Vegetable Recommendations, SFGate. Found here: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/usda-fruit-vegetable-recommendations-9339.html
  3. Roni Caryn Rabin, Are Frozen Fruits and Vegetables as Nutritious as Fresh? New York Times. Found here: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/11/18/are-frozen-fruits-and-vegetables-as-nutritious-as-fresh/
  4. Emily Honeycutt, Eating The Rainbow: Why Eating a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables Is Important for Optimal Health, Food Revolution Network. Found here: Eating The Rainbow: Why Eating a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables Is Important for Optimal Health
  5. Vegetable Nutrients and Health Benefits, USDA ChooseMyPlate. Found here: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/vegetables/vegetables-nutrients-health