Snacking veggies when preparing meals is a great start. But… To expand on the idea of how to eat more vegetables use the first week to educate yourself about a variety of these nutrient-dense foods.
Week 1: education & awareness
Go for Variety
By choosing a variety of vegetables your body will get the blend of nutrients that it needs. Dark leafy greens and veggies that have a rich red, orange, or yellow color are excellent sources of phytonutrients.
Click on the link and download the FREE Rainbow of colorful vegetable chart!
Although all fruits and veggies are likely to contribute to your health, green leafy vegetables (spinach & Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, kale, and their juices make important contributions.
Fibrous veggies versus starchy
Consume starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn only in moderation. They are digested more quickly than high fiber vegetables and tend to be higher in calories.
Vary between raw and cooked
Try to use your whole vegetables whenever possible. The outer skin contains the best nutrients.
A change between raw food and cooked vegetables is the best method to consume the greatest amount of valuable nutrients in their full bioavailability. An important aspect is that heating destroys some nutrients, especially vitamins.
Additionally, fiber and sometimes flavonoids are better maintained in raw veggies. For example, beta-carotene is more available to your body only after cooking. Therefore, eating your veggies at least one time cooked and one time raw per day is best.
Clean eating recipe inspirations
On this website, you'll find a whole bunch of clean eating recipes based on plant food. In the following I'll share a few of them which are especially quick and easy to prepare:
- Broccoli salad
- Brussels sprouts, roasted
- Cabbage salad with carrots and pineapples
- Cucumber salad
- Endive salad
- Fennel salad
- Kohlrabi celeriac soup
- Parmesan roasted carrots
- Parsley root soup
- Radish salad
- Red beet burger
- Red cabbage salad with apples
- Savoy Cabbage Chips
- Vegetable soup
Cooking tips to preserve some nutrients
Overcooking especially boiling will destroy crispness (texture), some nutrients and the color of the healthy foods. To protect the nutrients decrease the cooking time and broil, steam, microwave or cook in a small amount of water.
Also, avoid watering or blanching (short heating in boiling water) as this process is leaching out minerals. If you have to soak vegetables, use the soaking water too for your soup, stews or other meals. Serve foods immediately. The longer they stand, the more nutrients are gone.
Week 2: Lower risk and maximize taste!
Each vegetable contains a real nutrient treasure – but the risk of pesticides is real. Research suggests, however, that the health benefits of a diet rich in vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.
If you are unable to invest in clean, organic food, the lowest risk occurs when you vary produce that grow under and above the earth. Eat one portion of fruiting vegetables (tomato, eggplant), then leafy veggies (endive, spinach) and then roots (carrots, leeks) or cole crops (cabbage, kale). Today eat cucumbers, tomorrow red beets, then lettuce, then radish. By balancing the sources of your produce, you will equalize positive and negative effects.
Savor depends on the season
Particularly rich in vitamins and phytonutrients are regional foods. They are usually harvested at the optimum stage of maturity without long transport routes.
Did you know that all-season vegetables taste different depending on the season? Red beet, white cabbage or red cabbage are more tender in summer than in autumn or winter-time. Try out what kind of foods you prefer which month.
Week 3: Increase quantity
Try to consume in your third week at least 3-5 servings of fiber-heavy veggies per day! One serving is equivalent to 1 cup of leafy or ½ cup of non-leafy vegetables.
9 more smart tips
By now you should have a rough idea that eating more vegetables is really doable. But there is more…
Get here 9 additional tips:
- Keep cleaned extra veggies (carrots, radishes) in the refrigerator – ready to eat. In order to keep them fresh longer, remove the leaves and store them in containers or Ziploc bags.
- Start each lunch/dinner with a vegetable soup, raw veggies or salad.
- Add veggies to your favorite casseroles, stews, and soups. It’s not hard to incorporate carrots or cabbage to your favorite pasta sauces. View these fiber-rich foods as a centerpiece of your nutrition. Explore their flavor potential.
- Add onions, lettuce, tomatoes and/or bell peppers to your sandwiches or create lettuce wraps.
- Have celery stalks, cucumber or cooked broccoli with low-fat dip (hummus, cream) as a snack.
- Explore a new vegetable of the season each month and try out different preparation options. This will expand the horizon of your taste.
Here is an easy Kale recipe for you:
Wash the leaves, rub the leaves in olive oil or tahini (sesame paste) and cook them for five minutes with garlic, olive oil, and broth. Or try my delicious Kale pesto pasta.
- Create a folder and collect your favorite recipes. Explore online recipe websites such as epicurious.com etc. After two years you will have a good impression of what your region has to offer. Those who love to experiment may want to continue with specialties and exotic produce.
- In restaurants look mindfully after vegetables in season and try them out. When ordering a pizza, choose veggie toppings.
- Eat potatoes only in moderation. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbs. Try sweet potatoes which have a lower glycemic index than regular potatoes.
Are you already an expert?
Are you already eating 4-6 servings of fibrous vegetables per day? Take it to the next level. Consume at least one serving from each color of the rainbow every day.
Tell me your strategies
What are your strategies to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet? Feel free to post your veggie tips or best healthy vegetable recipes below in the comments. If you have a favorite website with quick and easy healthy vegetable recipes, please let us know too.