We’ve all heard that including a lot of fresh vegetables in our diet is wonderful for health. The USDA recommends getting at least 5 servings of veggies throughout your meals every day, which can seem like a lot. (And no, that bottle of V8 juice does not count.)
Although 5 servings of vegetables is a great start, new research is showing that doubling that to 10 portions each day will go much farther for reducing the risk of stroke, heart attack, cancer, and early death. The estimate is that if all Americans increased their vegetable intake to 10 portions per day, around 7.8 million preventable deaths could be avoided. That’s a big deal.
How to Eat More Vegetables Every Day
If 5 servings of vegetables a day seems like a lot, 10 may seem completely unreasonable. However, making small changes in your daily habits will go a long way. Here are some easy ways to increase your intake of vegetables each week:
Vow to do Meatless Mondays.
Every Monday, make a conscious decision to not eat any meat all day long. When you remove the meat, you’ll have more room to replace it with vegetables.
Start the day with veggies.
Make a side salad with your normal serving of eggs in the morning, and add some fresh asparagus into your scramble. That’s two servings of vegetables done before you even get to work!
Love smoothies? Sneak in a big handful of spinach - you won’t even taste it. Enjoy rice as a base for meals? Pulse some cauliflower in a food processor and use that as “rice” instead.
Pre-wash, chop, slice, and dice.
Wash your apples, trim the celery, chop that lettuce, and peel those carrots. Make it so that fresh fruits and vegetables are ready to go and easy to grab the moment you open the refrigerator.
Get pre-sliced bags of vegetables.
Simply don’t have the time to prep? A bag of chopped salad, a container of already-riced cauliflower, or a bag of diced butternut squash make getting in your vegetables a breeze.
Really, we could all stand to eat more vegetables every day. If you want to make a real commitment to eating more vegetables, try going vegetarian or vegan for a couple of weeks or even a whole month. After a little time of a diet heavy in veggies, you might find yourself feeling lighter and better than ever.
The Best Meat Substitutes for Vegans, Vegetarians, or Meatless Mondays
Some may need to transition slowly from meat to vegetables, and we have a few great suggestions for meat substitutes.
Get your meatless burger on!
Gardein makes a full line of vegetarian and vegan “meat” products, and the Beyond Meat meat-free burger has been getting rave reviews for texture and flavor. Instead of using a bun, use butter or romaine lettuce and sneak in that extra veggie serving!
Party with portobello mushrooms.
Portobello mushrooms have a thick, tough, and downright meaty texture. Toss them in your usual meat or steak seasonings before searing in a pan, and you won’t even miss the meat.
Join the jackfruit train.
Jackfruit is a spiky tropical fruit that makes a wonderful substitute for pulled pork. It also contains a lot of vitamins and minerals, and is delicious served with a side of steamed vegetables or coleslaw.
Try cauliflower “steaks”.
Cauliflower to the rescue, again! It turns out that taking big slices of cauliflower and roasting them to perfection makes for a delicious and unique meal without the meat.
Making the effort to add more vegetables to your daily routine will go a long way for your health. Although meat can be a great addition to an already well-rounded diet, increasing your vegetable intake will reduce your risk of many preventable diseases.
Looking for more healthy vegetarian meal ideas? Look no further!
[Credit: Welch, Ashley. “For a longer life, researchers say eat this many fruits and veggies per day.” CBS News.]
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