There are many easy ways to include more vegetables in your diet
Story: Melody Schoenfeld
Listen to your mother: eat your vegetables. Scientific evidence indicates she’s right. Green leafy vegetables may slow age-related cognitive decline and consuming more produce correlates with lower heart disease risk. High vegetable intake also lowers the of risk of some types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Vegetables even play a role in keeping wrinkles to a minimum and good skin health in general.
Of course, eating more vegetables is helped by other healthy choices, such as less junk food, more exercise, and less smoking, alcohol, and drug use. Regular salads don’t nullify a sedentary lifestyle or a smoking habit. Still, eating lots of veggies daily has plenty of benefits, and most Americans don’t eat enough of them.
If you shun green things on your plate or know someone who passes on the produce, I feel your pain. I often find myself feeding people disgusted by anything that grows in the ground.
These ideas worked for me:
Even the pickiest eaters may like veggies in soup form. An easy recipe: Throw chunks of root veggies (sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, carrots, parsnips, etc., and/or winter squash) in a pot, slow cooker, or pressure cooker along with veggie broth, and cook until tender. Celery, broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, and mushrooms are great, too. Once soup is cooked, add bite-sized pieces of dark green veggies (bok choy, kale, spinach, chard, etc.) to wilt in the hot soup. Lentils or other beans, barley, or even alphabet noodles are great for soup, and you can also add the protein of your choice (I love seitan chunks). For a tomato-based soup, throw in a can of diced tomatoes. Serve with hot, crusty, whole grain bread.
Steam and puree broccoli or cauliflower and add to pasta dishes, mashed potatoes, or omelets/tofu scrambles. Use cooked, pureed winter squash in pancake, waffle, or French toast batter, or mix it into mac & cheese. Throw a handful of greens into a smoothie. Spread veggie puree onto the inside of bread before making grilled cheese sandwiches. Use very finely chopped greens in lasagna or baked ziti. Most of the time, the flavor or texture of the veggies is masked enough that veggie-deniers won’t notice.
Pesto is easy and delicious and makes eating extra veggies a snap. I’ve made it with basil, broccoli, carrot tops, kale, and arugula.
Herbs pack a great nutritional punch. Play around with basil, cilantro, chives, sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley, garlic, and more in your cooking, or top popcorn with a mix of herbs. In the summer, I puree ginger and mint or basil leaves into lemonade.
STICK ‘EM IN SANDWICHES.
Add spinach, sprouts (try broccoli sprouts!), tomato slices, peppers, onion, and fresh herbs like basil, and they’ll forget they’re munching healthy stuff. Pesto is a great sandwich spread, too!TAKE
A GREEN POWDER.
If worse comes to worst and the only way you’ll take your veggies is to hold your nose and drink them fast, several veggie powders are available to add to your daily routine. It’s not ideal, but you’ll get a nutritional boost. And who knows, maybe you’ll browse the produce section a little more in the future.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Melody Schoenfeld is the author of “Pleasure Not Meating You: A Science-Based Approach to the Vegan Lifestyle (And Some Recipes, Too)” and has been a leader in the fitness industry for more than two decades. She owns Flawless Fitness, a personal training center in Pasadena, California, and Evil Munky Enterprises, a fitness equipment manufacturing company For more information visit www.pleasurenotmeatingyou.com/ or connect on Facebook and Twitter.