In the Files Home we are trying to change our vegetable ratio of late. I have been attempting to add fresh veggies to every meal and for snacking as well. Once you decide, it is actually a bit easier than you think. This sums up pretty nicely why it is important to have veggies:
"A vegetable-rich diet can help protect you from arthritis, heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, and even slow down your body's aging process. Vegetables benefit all of your body's cells and tissues by infusing them with highly bio-available nutrients that work synergistically for optimal health. Some of those nutrients even help you adapt to stress, such as the B vitamins and folate (better than folic acid, which is synthetic), omega-3 fats, magnesium (great for rest and anxiety), potassium, and glutathione (master detoxifier and mother of antioxidants).
A recent study found that people who consume seven or more portions of vegetables and fruit per day have a 42 percent lower risk of dying from all causes, compared to those who eat less than one portion—and vegetables pack the greatest punch."
These days we are all busy so many people choose the veggie-in-a-pill/vitamin route to save on time. I feel, however, that there is far more power in eating the real deal. First, it is less processed preserving many of the more delicate nutrients, especially if your sourcing is on point. Think about the amount of processing a vegetable or fruit has to go through to become a powder, gummy or pill. And, when you eat a veggie in its more natural state you are getting a host of vitamin cofactors and phytonutrients that help you body to absorb nutrients better. A green powder on the go certainly isn't bad but when you are able eat the real thing for optimal health.
HOW WE GET MORE VEGGIES INTO OUR DAY:
- Eat greens for breakfast! Saute some veggies and eat em with an egg or 2 for breakfast. Once you get into the habit this really is easy and delicious. If you are using leftover veggies, which I often do, it's like 5 minutes. I mean, who doesn't like an omelet?
- Drop some veggies into your smoothie. Spinach is virtually tasteless. Kale, cucumber, celery, peppers and avocados are also great choices. This is a good place to add a little chlorella or spirulina. However, I make it a small addition to whole veggies not in place of them.
- Juice your veggies more than your fruits. Once your palate gets used to it many veggies are actually quite sweet like cucumber, beets, carrots and peppers.
- Snack on veggies instead of fruit: cucumbers with homemade chicken salad, celery with nut butter, carrots and guacamole, peppers and hummus... Crunchy veggies are an excellent replacement for chips.
- Uh, a giant salad makes the BEST lunch!
- Add some yummy fats to your veggies. I often fry up a few pieces of cut up bacon and dump a mound full of veggies into the leftover grease to saute (make sure you have a good bacon source though). It never ceases to amaze me how many veggies my little bits will eat when I add a little pastured lard or real butter.
- Soups, stews, chilies and casseroles are an excellent way to get veggies into dinner. I hide so many minced up veggies in my chili that my kids don't know about. They gobble it up.
- Condiments like pesto, which is full of healthful herbs and has so many variations, are delicious on sandwiches, burgers and topping proteins and salads. Avocado makes a good spread as well.
- Lettuce makes a great wrap for tacos, sandwiches, and burgers.
- Consider zoodles or spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Don't be fooled spaghetti squash doesn't replace pasta. Nothing can replace pasta. But, it is really delicious in it's own right when you learn how to make it well. Save the pasta for special occasions.
- Hide some avocado in homemade ice cream.
Aim for a rainbow on your plate with generous helpings of green. Let those veggies take up half your plate. Consider replacing carbs with veggies. Did you you know a 2008 study found that just 4 (!) servings, that is just 10 spears, of broccoli per week could protect men from prostate cancer? And, the men showed hundreds of beneficial changes in genes known to play a role in fighting cancer.
Do you have any tips or ideas for incorporating more veggies into your meals? Feel free to post a photo of healthy veggie meals to inspire us all