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March 3, 2013

13 Quick Ways to Increase Your Veggie Intake

Part of living a lean lifestyle is learning how to bend your diet without breaking it.

Which means meeting yourself where you are and being realistic when you need convenience options, but never going overboard.

In an ideal world, we’d all have the time, energy and desire to make all of our food fresh daily at home and love plain steamed veggies. Ugh. But with all the demands on our time and our personal preferences (which matter insofar as they determine how likely we are to stick with it), convenience options are a must.

I have to admit–vegetables are not my strong suit. If I am not conscious of them, sadly I can go all day without them, munching on bars, shakes, fruit and eggs.

But they are a huge part of living a lean lifestyle, and the more vegetables you eat, the fuller you stay (fiber + water), the better your metabolism runs and the more water you SHED (fibrous veggies are natural diuretics because of their high mineral content).

Admittedly, eating plain steamed veggies can seem like a punishment. I used to do it prepping for shows and since then, I can’t really stomach them anymore. You certainly feel healthier doing it that way, by why torture yourself with it when you can easily fit veggies in other ways AND make them taste more palatable?

So, a couple weeks ago, I sent an email out to the JillFit readers outlining 3 simple ways I manage to stick more veggies into my diet. And then I asked for responses from JillFit readers about how they do it. Wow! I got close to 100 responses! You all like your veggies! Or should I say you don’t, because you are trying to find sneaky ways to eat more of them!

Below, I listed the ways I increase my veggie intake (#s 1-3), and I added some of my favorite responses from you all too! Enjoy :)

  1. Try a “Greens” or “Reds” powder. This is the lazy man’s veggie option (e.g. me) but offers plenty of antioxidants and is an easy way to get the vitamins and minerals you might be missing when skirting veggies. I personally use Metabolic Effect’s Recovery Greens and Reds, but there are other decent versions too, you can find at Whole Foods Market or supplement stores. Try ’em and see what you think. They work well for people who are on the go and need convenience options.
  2. Just eat the ones you like. Don’t like broccoli? Don’t stress it and don’t force it. Eat what you like and eat them as much as possible. When my little brother, Danny, moved in with Jade and I two years ago, he didn’t like any vegetables except for green beans. So he ate green beans. Even sometimes with a little butter or sprinkle of cheese. It was better than nothing and over time, he tried new veggies and acquired a taste for others. If you don’t like veggies but will eat a Caesar salad, start there. Not ideal, but better than nothing. Try new ones when you get the opportunity and over time, you’ll begin expanding your veggie variety.
  3. Use the OXO Salad Chopper. Whoa, this thing changed my life! It’s a super-simple, inexpensive tool (basically a bowl with a double pizza-cutter thingy) that you can stuff with 4-5 cups of greens, which when chopped down ends up being much more palatable (no stems!!) and manageable in a very yummy BAS :) Add lean protein and voila!
  4. Add a bunch of stuff to smoothies. For example. 1 scoop protein powder, kale, celery, banana, apple, frozen berries & unsweetened almond milk. “It will fool anyone because it’s so good.”
  5. Stick them into egg dishes. Make veggie frittatas (add some cheese if you want to sexify it ;)), add chopped veggies to omelets or mixed sautéed spinach in with scrambles. A dollop of salsa on top!
  6. “I use veggies to make a ‘bed’ like spaghetti squash or steamed spinach, to replace pastas.”
  7. Add them to meatballs, meatloaf, burgers, etc. You all like to add veggies like eggplant, spinach, onions, peppers and zucchini.
  8. “Mince up leftover veggies and add to spaghetti sauce. Sneaky sneaky sneaky!”
  9. Use frozen veggies. Things like broccoli florets, cauliflower, artichoke hearts and Brussels sprouts. “Very quickly cook in the microwave, add a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground pepper.”
  10. Cauliflower! “It can be made into anything!” Like pizza crusts, fake mashed potatoes (i.e. mashed cauliflower) and even added to baked goods.
  11. “I love leeks so I boil some up and spread a layer on my plate and then put the rest of my dinner such as curry, stew, chunky soup, etc on top. You can even put poached or fried eggs on top.”
  12. Buy veggies already washed and chopped up. Whole Foods has a great selection of prepared veggies for quick adds to protein to make “skillet” meals where you simply add them to a flying pan for 5-10 min with olive oil to make fajitas for example. A great convenience option for people who don’t like to cook or who have little time.
  13. Make them TASTE better! Ultimately if you are trying to force-feed yourself plain steamed veggies, eventually your willpower will give out and you’ll grab something that tastes better. If you ad a sprinkle of cheese or some herbs or hot sauce or even a light coat of butter, chances are you will be more likely to eat them. Consistency is key, so don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.


Related: A Case for NOT Prepping All Your Food

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