A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology concluded that approximately 7.8 million premature deaths every year may have been prevented if 8 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables were consumed daily.
This doesn’t surprise me. Because fruits and vegetables provide a wealth of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber our bodies need to function optimally as well as prevent disease and death.
However, according to the CDC, less than 20% of Americans are consuming 4 servings (the mainstream recommendation) of fruits and vegetables a day.
So…what does this mean for you?
Adding more vegetables to your diet is always a good idea. Essentially, they should occupy most of your plate at every meal and snack. And below are several tips to show you how…
- Eat more salads. In fact, one a day if you can. Because a salad is essentially a big bowl of vegetables and a great way to get at least 3 to 4 servings in one meal. For example, a cup of leafy greens is considered one serving. And salads typically consist of 2 cups of leafy greens. So that’s 2 servings right there! And then each ½ cup of non-leafy veggies (carrots, cucumber, broccoli, etc.) is another serving. And most salads typically contain at least 1 cup of additional non-leafy veggies. If you need a little inspiration, check out all of my salad recipes here.
- Stock up on soup. I love making a big batch of soup or stew loaded with veggies on my meal prep day. Just like salads, a big bowl of soup can offer 3 to 4 servings of vegetables. And my Winter Weight Loss Soup and Beyond Botox Soup are sure to please!
- Double the veggies in your recipe. This works especially well with soups, salads, and casseroles.
- Replace traditional pasta noodles with vegetable noodles. This includes spiralized zucchini, a.k.a. zoodles. But other veggies work too, such as sweet potatoes and parsnips. And this Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs recipe is a favorite in my house.
- Use cauliflower to make pizza crust. Cauliflower has proven to be a very versatile vegetable. And there are tons of great recipes for cauliflower pizza crust out there. Just don’t forget to add veggie toppings for a double dose!
- Always add a handful or two of leafy greens. Even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. I personally love adding kale to my soups, chard to my eggs, and spinach to my shakes and smoothies.
- Meal plan and shop according to your plan. This will ensure you have enough veggies on hand for each meal and snack.
- Prep fruits and veggies ahead of time. Not just for your meals, but for smoothies and snacks as well. Spending time once a week to clean, cut, and dice will ensure you have fruits and veggies ready to go when you need them. Which means you’ll be more likely to eat them.
- Stock up on frozen vegetables. Frozen veggies can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time or things didn’t go as planned. You can use them to whip up a stir-fry–in one pan no less.
- Dip your veggies in veggies. For example, make a batch of spinach and artichoke dip and serve it with carrot and celery sticks. Also, two common favorites, guacamole and salsa, are made up of mostly fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t forget about sea vegetables. Also known as seaweed, sea vegetables are highly concentrated sources of health promoting nutrients. Consider adding wakame to soups, using nori sheets as wraps, and mixing kelp granules in with your other seasonings.
- Spice things up. Herbs and spices may not be vegetables per se, but they’re still plants. And like seaweed, they’re concentrated sources of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant phytonutrients. Which means a little goes a long way. So add herbs and spices to your veggies as well as your salads, soups, and even smoothies. Also, use them in dressings, sauces, and dips.
- Add berries to shakes and smoothies. Along with a handful of greens, I love adding berries (fresh or frozen) to my shakes for a nutritional boost. And this Blue and Green Shake recipe is packed with collagen as well as 3 servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat fruit for dessert. Once you’ve moved to 80/20 (a.k.a SLIM Belly Forever), consider dipping fruit in melted dark chocolate or my Chocolate Almond Dip for dessert.. It’s healthy, easy, and so delicious!
You now know how to add more veggies to your diet. But what if you just don’t like the taste of vegetables?
Well, I think it’s all in the preparation. Many people think that eating healthy means depriving yourself of rich, flavorful food. But this is far from the truth.
You won’t find me eating steamed broccoli, which frankly, I find to be quite bland. Instead, I roast my broccoli with olive oil and a dash of sea salt to really bring out the flavor.
So if you’re not enjoying your veggies, consider the tips below to spice things up:
- Roast or saute your veggies with grass-fed butter, ghee, olive oil, or coconut oil instead of steaming them. These are all healthy fats that add flavor as well as benefits of their own, such as helping your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
- Don’t be afraid of a little unrefined sea salt. You’d be surprised what a little sea salt can do.
- Sprinkle with your favorite spices or seasonings. For example, curry seasoning pairs very well with most vegetables. Or check out my Sweet Potato Salad recipe that’s loaded with aromatic spices.
- Dip your fruits and veggies. This is a trick that many parents use to get their picky eaters to eat more fruits and vegetables. And it works for adults too. However, not all dips are created equal. Which is why I recommend making your own. Perhaps on your prep day. There are literally thousands of recipes available on the web that you can throw together in minutes. To get you started, check out my recipe for tapenade. I love serving it with cucumber and radish slices. My BLT Dip is also always a crowd pleaser and goes great with carrot and celery sticks.
- Don’t eat salad without dressing. The truth is, the dressing makes the salad. And when the right oils (i.e., olive or avocado) are used, they’re just as healthy as the vegetables. Plus, as mentioned above, fats are necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. However, since most commercial salad dressings are made with refined and inflammatory “vegetable” oils, making your own is your best bet. And all of my salad recipes include a mouth-watering dressing.
To Sum it Up…
Eating more veggies is a great way to improve your health as well as shrink your waistline. And there are many ways to make this happen and make it more enjoyable.
But, please don’t obsess. There will be days when you don’t eat 8 servings (or even 4 servings) of fruits and vegetables. And that’s ok! Stressing about it will always cause more harm than good.
Simply start with one tip above and go from there. Because every little step can make a big difference.
Keep thinking big and living BOLD!