So when someone complains they can’t think of ways to get more vegetables in their diets, as you can imagine I have plenty to say. For me, I’ve been doing it so long it’s easy.
It seems a common aspiration these days, what with our kids hitting new cholesterol highs and heart disease shooting through the roof. Whatever your dietary persuasion, it seems we can at least agree on this: eat your veggies.
Here are some tried, true – and easy – ways to get creative with vegetables.
6 Easy Ways To Get Your Veggie Count Up
1) Pan Roast:
If you’re like me and love to eat roasted vegetables, or always look longingly at roasted vegetables recipes, knowing that you just won’t get it together to go to all that trouble, then this is the solution for you.
All you need is a big stainless steel, non-stick fry pan or seasoned cast iron, a cook top, and you’re good to go. Saute in a thin layer of water sweet onion slices, portobello mushrooms strips, red or yellow peppers, strips of summer squash (for a starter list). Season as you like with tamari, Bragg’s Aminos (a favorite, I now buy it by the jug)…or even a drizzle of molasses for a carmelly sweet undertone. Veggie broth works as well. The trick is to keep water at a minimum in the pan so you get a nice carmelized effect; just watch it so you don’t burn.
Simply decide if you are in a savory or sweet mood. These cook in minutes and then can fill a big portion on your plate or decorate a pile of steamy rice (my current favorite is brown jasmine). They also keep well for leftovers (you won’t have any unless you plan ahead to make it so), soup additions, wraps, sandwiches….versatile!
2) Soup, soup. Oh, and soup.
Soup has got to be THE easiest way to ramp up your veggie count. Case it point: this is what I made for lunch today:
- First I pan roasted onions (see #1 above), carrot slices, celery chunks and garlic.
- Then I added several inches of water in which I dropped an entire bunch of kale that had been chopped into bite sizes, and about a cup of green peas.
This was all done to tender-crisp in minutes. From there, I added:
- leftover lentil loaf (see 4 ways eating lentils helps you get your health & skinny on)
- red beans (cooked yesterday)
- leftover barley
Seasoned it all with Bragg’s Aminos and a couple of tablespoons of white miso, and served it with big slices of wholegrain lavash that I quick toasted in a flat grill pan.
Satisfying, filling, and enough left over for tomorrow’s lunch!
Did I say “soup” . For more recipes and ideas, check out How to make slimming Smokey Butternut Lentil Soup in minutes and My simple soup trick to up your veggie count and get your skinny on (video).
3) Pasta Sauce
No, I don’t mean labor over a vat of tomatoes and various exotic seasonings. Of course you can if you want, but I’m an open-the-jar-of-marinara kind of pasta sauce girl. However, I DO know how to spice it up with more veggies.
Obvious and delicious choices for this are any kind of mushroom, which can be pan-roasted in advance as above and added to the sauce. Onions work in here as well. Summer AND winter squash work beautifully! Make your sauce as chunky as you like with any veggie within reach and pour it over wholegrain pasta and you have a filling, satisfying meal.
4) Grain Sauces
Here’s a nice twist that just requires a blender or food processor. But BOY is it easy and I utilize this strategy a lot when on travel to far flung parts of the world where finding a good fresh veggie can be challenging. In other words, it works well with frozen veggies. Perfect for cooking on the fly at home.
Start by cooking lightly: broccoli, peas, spinach – green is good! Quick cooking a frozen package or start from fresh.
Pour the cooked veggies into the blender or food processor. Add enough hot liquid to make it creamy and whir away. Add tamari, or veggie bouillion, or Bragg’s, miso, some nut butter….possibilities are endless. You now have a nice creamy sauce to pour over a pile of grains, potatoes, or even pasta.
5) Wrap It Up!
Any combination from the Pan Roasted (see #1) category, to fresh steamed, to chopped or grated raw works here. Something about a wrap “sexes” things up a bit and can make a very filling, satisfying meal. It’s also a great way to slip in extra an veggie count!
Use burrito-sized wraps (I like Ezekial sprouted, ), wholegrain (TJ’s wholegrain lavash), or corn. Start by spreading a bean paste or hummus on the wrap shell, pile in the veggies, wrap it up and chomp. Great by hand for a big mess or eat with a fork if you need to make it more classy. A winner every time.
For a quick video on how to make an easy, low-fat veggie wrap go here: Veggie Sandwich Wrap: A Fast Food Favorite
6) Green Drinks
Also known as “blended salads”, are the ultimate pathway to LOTS of dark green in a hurry. You can use a powerful blender, Vitamix is best but not everyone has the luxury of inheriting a relic from the 70′s like I did!
Green drinks and smoothies are not a good choice for every day – food was designed to be chewed, when we can! Yet in a pinch and on occasion, they can be a perfect solution. And a great way to bring kids on board with greens too: see 2 ways to turn your kids on to green leafy vegetables: Kale chips & ‘Smoothie, the movie’.
Start with some water in the blender; add some fruit (chunks of oranges, pineapple, or mango are favorites, juice concentrate will work in a pinch). Cram in some handfuls of spinach and/or mixed greens, add some crushed ice, and whir. You have a good 2 servings of vegetables before you even know what hit you. Read more about green drinks here: green drinks and Green smoothie with Plant-Based Dietitian, Julieanna Hever (video!).
If you’ve been locked into thinking vegetables – lettuce salad and V-8, guess again. Spread your green wings!
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