Five Ways You Can Add More Veggies to Your Diet
If there’s one issue all trainers face with their clients it is helping them increase their vegetable intake. I won't go into detail as to why you should be consuming more vegetables; rather, I am here to offer some practical and proven ways to increase the nutrient density in your diet. Here they are in no particular order.
This one is a no-brainer. If you’re like most of us, you probably don’t have time to make a 5-star meal in the morning before work. That’s where smoothies come in. Including a handful of spinach or kale (can’t even taste it) with your morning smoothie will increase the nutrition value of your smoothie significantly. If you have a Nutribullet or a Ninja (or even better – Vitamix) blender your options are much greater, as these blenders have the ability to blend vegetables most other blenders simply cannot. Your typical household blender will struggle to turn things like apples, dates, cacao nibs, carrots, sweet potato, and cucumbers into a liquid that’s actually drinkable.
Try this one:
- 1 cup water (or almond milk)
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 banana
- 1/2 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
- 2 heaping cups spinach
- pinch coconut sugar or raw honey to taste
- 1 cup ice
- 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored protein powder
- blend until smooth
Pros: Convenience - take it to go and sip it during your morning commute.
Cons: Variety – you’re limited by the blender at your disposal. Blending certain fruits vegetables simply will not work with your typical blender.
While I wouldn’t recommend that you only get your vegetable intake from juicing alone, you can certainly do much worse. A decent juicer will set you back $150 or so. However, the options here are endless. Unlike blenders, juicers can extract juice from a wider range of vegetables (depending on the model). Even vegetables that you would normally not consume can be easily juiced and combined in a way that makes them taste like, well…not so bad (onion, anyone?). There is certainly a trade-off; juicing will reduce the fiber content significantly. Eating vegetables in their whole form is certainly the gold standard; however, juicing can certainly help those that struggle to eat enough vegetables throughout the day.
Try this one:
- 1 apple
- 2 large carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- ½ cucumber
- 2 cups spinach
Pros: Variety – the possible combinations are endless.
Cons: Nutrients lost – primarily fiber.
My personal favorite way of consuming more vegetables is through plain ole’ culinary savviness. Omelets, chili, pasta, pizza (homemade, not Dominos), casseroles, stews, and soups all lend themselves for the inclusion of various types of vegetables. Next time you cook your favorite dish, consider adding vegetables you haven’t tried before. If you typically just do a ham and cheese omelet, try adding kale, zucchini, chili peppers, and broccoli. There are countless types of mushrooms, peppers, root vegetables, and leafy greens that go well in the aforementioned dishes. Adding vegetables this way is always a safe bet, as you're most likely to eat them in a dish you already enjoy.
Pros: Taste – you’re free to experiment with dishes that already pass the taste test.
Cons: Requires a kitchen – throw your apron on and start cooking.
While the boom of the supplement industry has proven to be a snake oil salesman’s dream come true, we as consumers are required to be ever more careful in deciding which supplement are actually worth buying. Greens supplement would definitely make the cut for me. Keep in mind that we are talking supplements here; I am not advocating that you only get your vegetable intake from supplements. They are called supplements for a reason – they add to what you already have. Supplements such as Athletic Greens, Amazing Grass, and Macro Greens are a great insurance policy for those days when you’re vegetable intake might not be up to par.
Pros: Convenience, that’s about it.
Cons: Not a direct substitute for actual vegetable intake.
Okay, I lied. #5 isn’t actually anything you didn’t already know. However, it goes without saying that many of us don’t actually consume as wide array of vegetables as we ought to. Have you ever tried a daikon? A jicama? Bok choy? Sunchoke? You might be scratching your head at these names. Point being, next time you visit the grocery store (or farmer’s market) pick up one or two vegetables that you’ve never even noticed. Keep an open mind and know that you might not like a certain vegetable. Eventually you will find some that you will like and include in your diet on a regular basis.
Pros: Novelty – trying new vegetables will broaden your culinary horizons.
Cons – Research – you will need to know how to cook/prepare these vegetables.
Eat your veggies!