Lifestyle

10 easy ways to eat more veggies from a nutritionist

There was a time when I thought that great Sunday mornings consisted of bottomless mimosas, something hidden in hollandaise, and I, in checkered suits and sunglasses made brunch feel like a Fashion show with friends. But a couple of years back, I went through a mindset shift and realized that the weekend was the perfect opportunity to incorporate some easy and straightforward ways to eat more veggies. Let me explain.

These days, my weekend daydream consists of me in a slim-fit miniskirt and a pair of comfortable heels, wading around the farmers market, gazing at turnips and browsing avocado lettuce. Then leave a tote bag filled with veggies to liven up our fridge and enough greens to make a salad for a week.

That’s right, the older I get, the more my appetite increases, consisting mainly of vegetables. And when I say veggies, I mean real veggies — not those sneaky snacks, I convinced myself that, in my early parenting days, was healthy. (Vegetable sticks in the aisle and peas, I’m looking at you.) Filling my kitchen bowl with loads of colorful treats will keep you interested in heart-healthy consumption. Plus, they’re simply beautiful.

Featured image of Michelle Nash.

Pictures of Suruchi Avasthi

I know now that, for my family, the key to overall health is pretty basic: plenty of rest, clean air, and plenty of protein combined with regular treatment. However, the most important on my list are tons of vegetables in our bellies every day. But I have to ask: With all the delicious produce to choose from, are all vegetables created equal?

To help guide the way from farm to fork, I reached out to registered dietitian Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT. Jenna gave me information on her favorite vegetables to eat every day, why we should all eat more of these power-packed foods, and how to incorporate them into our diets. us seamlessly.

Picture of Teal Thomsen

How many vegetables should we eat each day?

The “gold standard” for adults is to eat about five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day. What most people don’t realize is that a serving of vegetables is more than a few chickpeas served with dinner or a spoonful of mushrooms in an omelet. A full serving is equivalent to two cups of green vegetables, one cup of fresh vegetables (such as carrots, cucumbers or celery), 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables (such as green beans, peppers, onions, or mushrooms) or 1 cup / 3 cups ketchup or salsa.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the recommended amount of vegetables for most adults to consume each day is equivalent to about two to four cups of vegetables per day (not specified raw or cooked).

Photos of Kristen Kilpatrick

What is your favorite vegetable to eat every day?

I love green vegetables, they are a source of nutrition. They’re packed with carotenoid antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and magnesium, and they’re also versatile and easy to prepare! I usually alternate between baby spinach, kale, arugula, and a “super cream” blend.

I usually add sautéed greens to my meals at least once a day, usually eggs, pasta and stir-fries. I also often throw baby greens in smoothies and sandwiches.

It’s all too easy not to do these things, and in my opinion, incorporating greens for babies into your daily routine is a habit that will help boost the content of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins. fiber and energy in ways that supplements can’ t.

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As we age, our nutritional needs change. What does this vegetable look like?

The recommended vegetarian intake increases as calorie needs increase. Since babies and children don’t need as much food as adults and they’re growing exponentially, that means more of their calories should come from macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat). compared to vegetables. That said, babies and children don’t need as many vegetables as teenagers and adults. Men also need more vegetables than women, because they need more calories on average.

Below are the USDA recommended daily amounts of vegetables depending on age.

Why exactly is it important to eat the recommended amount of vegetables?

Vegetables are packed with prebiotics (a natural food source for healthy “probiotic” bacteria in the gut), vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, vitality (life force), and more.

Eating vegetables is a simple yet effective way to cut your risk of many diseases exponentially while helping to regulate and balance blood sugar and hunger/fullness levels.

It’s not a complicated or complicated concept, but I still find that most people don’t reach the recommended daily amount of vegetables or even come close to it most days because the food system and our diet industry is still far from these simple support solutions. .

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What is the most nutritious way to eat more vegetables?

The answer to this question will depend on what works best for each person, but this is what works for me.

Cook vegetables to enhance the taste

I’m not a fan of raw vegetables, so cooking vegetables (i.e. roasting or pan-frying) is a great way to reduce the volume of vegetables while enhancing flavor and palatability with some oils and seasonings. good quality. I find that pairing cooked vegetables with other meals (like pasta or stir-fries) is relatively easy (and the taste is delicious!). I aim to make at least half of my veggies at lunch and dinner, and it’s easy when I cook with the veggies I love!

Find sneaky ways to get your veggies

Using zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of pasta is a really easy way to meet your daily veggie needs in just one meal. (Two cups of zucchini noodles provide four servings of vegetables!) Also, using a red sauce adds one serving of vegetables. Then all that’s left is to add some protein, be it ground turkey, grass-fed beef, Beyond Meat, or some chicken or shrimp.

Drink your wine

During the spring and summer months, tossing a bunch of veggies in green juice can be a refreshing way to extract vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and live enzymes from vegetables (as long as people Don’t add too much fruit to their juice blend, this will increase the sugar content significantly). One thing to keep in mind with juicing is that most of the fiber is removed. Therefore, I do not recommend relying solely on juicing to get all your daily servings of vegetables.

Sip a smoothie

Tossing frozen greens into smoothies is a great way to maximize the nutrient delivery of your morning drink/meal hybrid. You can also enhance the taste with something delicious like cocoa powder and natural sweeteners.

Pictures of Suruchi Avasthi

Are all vegetables the same or are some better than others?

All vegetables have something to offer, but I don’t think they’re all created equal from a nutritional perspective. Either way, I don’t usually put too much emphasis or emphasis on ranking vegetables, as the most important thing from a big picture perspective is that people eat more vegetables.

Getting a variety of vegetables of different colors is important, as color is indicative of the vitamins and antioxidants present in the vegetable.

For example, green vegetables contain the antioxidant chlorophyll, while sweet potatoes, squash and carrots are rich in beta-carotene (the orange carotenoid pigment, a precursor to vitamin A). It’s better to eat a variety of vegetables of different colors every day and every week than to just focus on orange vegetables.

The biggest vegetables for you

From a nutritional standpoint, some of the vegetables that contain the most nutrients and/or antioxidants are leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula), broccoli, beets, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, butternut squash and tomatoes. .

In terms of nutrition, the vegetable with the lowest ranking would definitely be corn and potatoes. I don’t really consider these vegetables in my clinical practice since they are mostly starches. Iceberg lettuce is also less nutritious than other green leafy vegetables.

While certain vegetables like onions and mushrooms don’t come out on top in terms of vitamin and mineral content, I still include them in my routine because of their exceptional antioxidant power. Antioxidants help fight oxidation (cell damage), which is the main underlying culprit in aging and many diseases.

Pictures of Michelle Nash

10 simple ways to add more vegetables to your daily diet

  1. Replace pasta with zucchini noodles or squash spaghetti in pasta.
  2. Add 1/3 cup salsa or pico de gallo to serve with whole-grain tortilla chips and some guacamole for a snack.
  3. Incorporate vegetables into a macaroons recipe (here’s a favorite – you never knew!).
  4. Add fresh or frozen greens to smoothies. I usually use organic greens. For fresh vegetables, I like Olivia’s brand, and for frozen, I usually buy Cascadian Farm or the store brand if they have an organic option! (This Green Chocolate Smoothie is a must.)
  5. Add cooked veggies to omelets and scrambled eggs — and of course the frittata.
  6. Add cooked vegetables like peppers and onions to fajitas and tacos.
  7. Add vegetables like peppers, onions, mushrooms and/or green leaves to pasta dishes. Lemon-tahini sauce makes any vegetable dish more delicious—as is the case with this vegetarian pasta salad.
  8. Try swapping regular rice for cooked “cauliflower” in a stir-fry or other recipe that calls for rice.
  9. Add some cauliflower to your mashed potatoes. They will remain soft, nutty and absolutely delicious. Here’s a great recipe to get you started.
  10. Add veggies to the soup (this gazpacho or this vegan minestrone are delicious summer options. And if you really want to, try doubling or tripling the amount of veggies the recipe calls for.

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