Vegetables. Why you should be eating them and how to make it happen.
By Emily Rutherford
If you’re following along with our Healthy Habits Challenge, our participants are working to increase their produce intake. Eating more vegetables can be a big change for a lot of people. Often, this means more time in the kitchen. If you’re dragging your heels a bit to do that extra work, it can help to keep in mind why this change is so important.
Here are two quick facts to help you get cooking:
First, veggies are nutritional powerhouses: they contain essential vitamins and minerals along with phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and antioxidants. Meaning they’re the foundation of every health-promoting diet. Those vitamins and minerals help boost your immunity and lower inflammation. They improve overall recovery and performance.
Second, More vegetables=more fiber. Fiber, combined with protein, is a slow digesting combo. Meaning you feel full for longer and are less likely to overeat. Fiber also slows the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. Which in turn keeps your blood glucose levels from rising too fast. This is important because spikes in glucose fall rapidly, which can make you feel hungry soon after eating and lead to overeating.
A few tips to help make it happen:
Keep some versatile and easy cooking options on hand. For me, that’s baby spinach and carrots. Baby spinach can be eaten raw and it cooks quickly.
Here are ways I use the baby spinach:
- sauté it for scrambled eggs
- toss it in a smoothie
- make a salad with it
- add it to a bubbling soup
- add a handful to simmering spaghetti sauce
How to use the carrots:
- Steamed and blended into a smoothie
- Steamed and added to a side dish
- added to about any soup or stir fry
- Oven roasted
- Shredded raw for a sandwich
- Shredded raw to garnish almost any dish
Find ways to sneak in extra veggies
If you are adventurous there are so many fun ways to do this. Finely chopped mushrooms or shredded veggies blend really well with ground beef in a spaghetti sauce or a burger patty. Thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant can replace some, if not all of the noodles in a pasta dish. If you’re really adventurous, toss a couple handfuls of spinach into the blender and blend until smooth with some milk, then add that to your pancake batter.
Incorporating more vegetables into your diet doesn’t have to be a chore. With a little bit of creativity and the right cooking techniques, you can make vegetables delicious and reap the numerous health benefits they have to offer. So next time you’re at the grocery store, pick up some fresh vegetables and get cooking. Your body will thank you!
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