Eating an array of colorful fruits and vegetables will not only help you manage your weight, but will also help to boost your mood. A number of studies have shown that eating nutrient-dense foods (including plenty of fruits and vegetables) is actually linked to overall happiness.
This time of year, there are plenty of delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season to choose from. Most health professionals recommend eating between 3-6 cups of vegetables per day for optimal health. That may seem like a lot at first, however there are some excellent tricks to get your recommended veggies in and boost your long-term happiness and health!
8 Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables
Sign up for a weekly or monthly produce box.
When you have produce delivered to your door, it encourages you to figure out creative ways to cook and eat it. It is a wonderful way to get a new and exciting array of different vegetables and fruits to try as well. Organizations such as Imperfect Produce or Fresh Direct provide a direct-to-door delivery service depending on whats in season. Check their FAQ pages to see if they deliver in your area.
Roast your veggies.
Roasting vegetables is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness, making them an excellent salad topper or quick side dish. Peel and cut tough vegetables (such as beets, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, or sweet potatoes) into cubes and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with a little bit of salt and/or True Lemon Pepper. Roast at 420 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Chop, slice, and dice!
Sometimes having vegetables pre-sliced and ready to grab is enough to change your mind from reaching for that bag of chips. Portion out sliced peppers, cucumbers, radishes, and cucumbers in separate containers for a quick snack.
Making meatballs? Sneak in some spinach. How about burgers? Add shredded carrots or fresh herbs. Cooking up some taco meat? Add minced mushrooms, onions, or zucchini. Order pizza? Top it with a big handful of arugula, fresh sliced tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Meat & potatoes type? Give them a platform.
If you or your family are the type that is only satisfied with meat and potatoes, serve everything on top of fresh steamed broccolini or kale sprinkled with True Lemon. Sweet baby greens also make a great starting base for topping with protein.
Start your day with a heaping load of vegetables.
Beginning your veggie servings at breakfast time is a perfect way to get your day started right (and keep you ahead of the game)! Scramble eggs with a big handful of spinach and chopped onions, then top them with sliced tomatoes. Cook broccoli, sweet potatoes, and chopped bacon together, and top with an over-easy egg. You can even enjoy a big breakfast salad, built to your own preferences. Who says breakfast has to be all about bacon and eggs?
Make creative veggie swaps for starches.
Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Saute with a little oil in a pan until tender and use in place of rice. Big fan of pasta? Use zucchini or carrot noodles instead. Spaghetti squash is a wonderful replacement as well, and it has 'pasta' right there in the name! To cook, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice the ends off the spaghetti squash, then cut through the mid section and lengthwise (you should have four quarters). Scoop out the seeds, then coat with olive oil and a dash of salt. Place cup-side-down on a baking sheet and roast for about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes. Gently scrape the insides out with a fork once cooled, then season to taste or top with your favorite low-sugar spaghetti sauce.
Sometimes the best way to encourage yourself (and picky eaters) to munch on veggies is to accompany it with a really good dip. Mix a dollop of mayonnaise with blue cheese then top with hot sauce to scoop up with celery sticks. Roast eggplant and zucchini spears in the oven, then serve with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. You can even make a dip with veggies themselves, like this creamy cauliflower dip.
There are plenty of fun and creative ways to get those veggies in without a second thought. Your health and overall happiness will improve greatly when you're eating more of these healthy foods every day.
[Credit: Heather Pratt, MNT, BCHN. 12 Diet Strategies to Increase Health and Happiness. Natural Grocers, Health Hotline.]