If you’re trying to cultivate healthier eating habits, vegetables need to play a key role in your diet. According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should be eating at least two and a half cups of veggies per day. Fortunately, it’s easy to add more nutrient-rich servings to your everyday meals — whether or not you’re a huge veggie fan! Here are some simple and tasty tips for increasing your vegetable consumption.
Add veggies to your favorite foods
Instead of drastically changing what you eat, why not start by adding vegetables to the meals you already love? If macaroni and cheese is a favorite treat, add a fistful of frozen peas or some chopped, cooked asparagus. Packing a sandwich for lunch? Layer on some leafy greens, creamy avocado, or fresh tomato slices in addition to your favorite meats and cheeses. Pizza is another good candidate — just pile it with veggies (anything from raw greens to roasted broccoli) in addition to your other toppings.
Fire up the grill
Firing up the grill to cook burgers, brats, or hot dogs? It’s easy to make room for vegetables while you’re at it. Grilled asparagus spears or zucchini slices, chunks of onion or bell pepper, or a grill pan full of mushrooms and cherry tomatoes are sure to be a big hit at your cookout. Before adding your veggies to the grill, be sure to brush them with a bit of oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Substitute veggies for pasta or rice
If you’re not ready to give up regular rice for cauliflower rice or pasta for zucchini “noodles,” there’s an easier option available. Making a cup of rice? Cook half a cup instead and mix it with half a cup of cauliflower rice. If you’re making a pasta dish, just swap out some (not all!) of your noodles for spiralized or julienned zucchini. That way, you can still enjoy some starchy goodness even as you’re increasing your vegetable intake.
Try a veggie frittata, omelet, or scramble
If you like eating eggs, take advantage of the fact that they’re a terrific companion for vegetables! An omelet or frittata loaded with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, or peppers tastes great and provides an easy way to boost your veggie consumption. It’s also easy to add vegetables to scrambled eggs. You could even roast some halved Brussels sprouts, cubed sweet potatoes, or other veggies and top them with a fried egg.
Pureed veggies count, too
If you’re committed to eating more vegetables but can’t quite embrace the way they taste, try mixing pureed veggies into your food. For example, adding a can of pureed pumpkin or some pureed carrots to tomato sauce or chili will deliver the extra nutrients you need — and you won’t even notice! Real Simple also suggests adding butternut squash puree to cheese sauce or fortifying mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower.
If “eat your vegetables” sounds like a tiresome or unpleasant chore, start with any of these five easy tips. Before you know it, you’ll be reaping the benefits of a nutritious, veggie-filled diet!