Getting in enough greens can be tough work. Whether you’re feeding a picky palate or too busy and relying on the convenience of your old pattern of eating, consuming a balanced diet with enough produce (especially the green stuff) can take some planning and often a little strategy (or trickery). While you may fall into the camp of “I love veggies and eat them every day,” my guess is we could all likely benefit from getting a bit more veg in our life.
Many experts agree the more “plant-based” you can get your diet the better. The recommendation from the World Health Organization is to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, however studies are showing greater benefit and disease risk reduction comes at eating as many as 10 servings per day.
A daily smoothie routine is my number 1 strategy for getting vegetables into our whole family first thing in the morning. Fruit smoothies are tasty and you would be surprised at how easy it is to sneak in vegetables. Similar to smoothies, fruit and veggie blends work great in homemade popsicles like these fruit and veggie pops made with tomatoes. Other interesting smoothie add ins include: chickpeas, leafy greens and avocado, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and beets.
Turn your entree into a bowl and serve it over greens. Instead of having chicken, sweet potato and side of broccoli for dinner, pack in more veggies, variety and fun by eating your dinner bowl-style. Chop your chicken and sweet potato and serve it over a bed of baby spinach and arugula, with sliced avocado, and garnish with chopped nuts or seeds for crunch or add some mango. Create other flavors with Spicy Thai Salmon Grain Bowls or go full vegetarian with a Vegetarian Nourish Bowl.
BAKE THEM IN
Love a little sweet treat or a pancake breakfast? Increase the nutritional value by adding shredded carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, avocado or spinach. It may sound weird, but pureed baby food is a convenient way to add veggies to baked goods, like in these Carrot Berry Quinoa Muffins. Don’t be shy; include some trendy ingredients like Matcha Kale Oats or Chocolate Pea Cookies.
ADD TO OMELETS AND SCRAMBLES
Cut onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, buy pre-washed baby spinach and kale. Take it a step further and saute or roast them in advance for a quick veggie boost to your egg scramble or omelet in the morning.
SWAP A SANDWICH FOR A SALAD OR LETTUCE WRAP
Make shredded chicken, grilled chicken or avocado tuna salad to serve over bed of greens or in a lettuce wrap. I like to keep canned tuna on hand to mix with avocado, dried fruit and nuts and eat over greens for a quick lunch.
SWAP GRAINS FOR VEGGIES
Spiralized veggies like zucchini aka “zoodles” or butternut squash makes a tasty stand in for noodles in traditional pasta dishes like spaghetti with a meaty marinara and in a creamy coconut curry. Try “riced” veggies like cauliflower, beets, butternut squash, broccoli, kohlrabi and sweet potatoes. I love to go half and half by mixing riced veggies into our grains like stirring riced cauliflower into rice or mashed potatoes. You can also try these Smoky Cheddar Cauliflower Grits. Many brands are making spiralized and riced veggies, which you can find in the frozen aisle of many grocery stores.
MAKE A HOMEMADE DRESSING
Not only will you have control over what ingredients are in your dressing if you make it at home, but it will make your salad life more fun and tasty, too. It’s also important to pair the right green with the right dressing. One of my favorite make-at-home dressings is this one for Avocado Chicken Caesar Salad.
BATCH COOK SOUP
Soups make a tasty lunch or dinner any time of year; they’re a good strategy for packing in more veggies and hydration! Make an extra batch for the freezer or freeze half to increase variety and save your future self from cooking and cleaning on a busy weeknight.
MAKE DINNER ON THE SHEET PAN
Sheet-pan dinners are made for weeknights and the cook who hates doing the dishes. Throw seasoned veggies and proteins on a sheet pan and bake — trust us, the sheet pan is a weeknight game changer. Try Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin With Sweet Potatoes and Pineapple, Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas or Harvest Vegetable Medley with Tilapia.
LET CARBS MEET VEGGIES
If you’re going for pasta or pizza, up the ante with loads of vegetables. Toss arugula or spinach into your pasta, add pumpkin, carrots or cauliflower into a sauce, top your pizza with salad greens or even Brussels sprouts, and add eggplant or zucchini to lasagna. Want even more veg? Pair your entree with a salad!