Sometime in the last 20 years, losing weight and being “healthy” got a lot more complicated. Should you go gluten-free? Try the keto diet? Drink bone broth? If you can’t keep up with all the recent health claims floating around, you’re not alone. If you’re simply searching for a way to be healthier every day and maybe even lose a couple pounds, we’ve got one simple rule to live by: Eat vegetables at every meal.
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Most Western diets are overfilled with meat, carbs and sugar, while most people in the rest of the world get the majority of their calories (close to 50%) from fruits and vegetables. When you focus on eating lots of veggies and whole foods, you’ll be filling up on more nutritious calories and will probably even lose weight without worrying about limiting portion sizes or counting calories. “Vegetables are full of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, helping us stay full, helping us eliminate toxins from the body and feeding our microbiome (the healthy bacteria in our guts),” says Brooke Wilson a nutritionist at Custom Fit Personal Training and Nutrition. “They are also a great source of complex carbohydrates that provide us with the fuel we need to power us through our days.”
Not sure where to start? We’ve broken down some easy ways to work more veggies into every meal if you need inspiration.
We’re all guilty of grabbing a protein bar on the way out the door when we’re short on time, so it may seem like the toughest meal to figure out how you’re going to incorporate vegetables. The easiest way to ensure you stay on track is to prep meals ahead like smoothies or egg muffins. The best part about both of these options is you definitely don’t have to stick exactly to a recipe. Add any roasted veggies to your egg muffins for more flavor (and nutrients and fiber). Any greens you have lying around will go great in a smoothie.
Lunch can be as creative as breakfast. Grain bowls and salads are your best friends or try simple protein-and-veggie combinations. You could even try adding some sautéed mushrooms to your sandwich or make this Pesto Pasta Salad.
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You’re probably already getting the majority of your vegetables during dinner, so we’ll suggest a few new, veggie-heavy recipes you need to try. We love Cauliflower Rice with Kale and Eggplant Parmesan. Don’t feel like following a recipe? If you love pasta, try cutting back on the portion of noodles and fill the rest of the bowl with veggies like sauteed broccoli, mushrooms or peas. All are delicious with homemade marinara or olive oil and parmesan cheese.
This one’s tough, but not impossible. Try Black Sesame Carrot Quickbread or Gluten-Free Almond Butter Zucchini Muffins. Both of these freeze well, so they’re great to make in large batches for when your sweet tooth hits.