Ok, I know I’ve said it a million times, but we really have to work on getting our veggie intake up. Too many of you are drowning your diets with processed food bars, dairy, alcohol, grains, and fruit.
Don’t get me wrong—these foods are not bad in-and-of-themselves, but they should certainly not be making up the brunt of your diet—especially not if you’re trying to lose weight!
If a whole week goes by and you’ve consumed a grand total of 8,400 calories (1,200 X 7) of which only 350 calories (50 X 7) are from veggies, we have a problem. I bet one of your first problems is that you are constipated frequently. I can also safely guess that you are no-where near the ideal potassium intake you should be. Sodium is probably high; so is cholesterol; I bet vitamin scores aren’t that hot unless you pop a pill.
Am I right?
Ok, let’s just accept the fact that we all struggle with eating our daily quota of veggies and move on to some strategies for sneaking them in. Here is a list of some awesome strategies I use personally to increase my veggie intake—daily. I’m sure you’ll not only find these helpful—but delicious and filling—Enjoy!
P.S. Don’t just read it—Go out and do itJ
If you have been in boot camp, you already know how much I love green smoothies. Roughly blend 60% whole fruits, 40% green leafy veggies, add a scoop of your favorite protein powder, with water or unsweetened Almond Milk, and you’ve got yourself one of the best tasting veggie meals ever.
Broccoli, baby carrots, sliced peppers, mushrooms, and cauliflower are all great choices.
3. Use vegetables instead of pasta noodles.
You can get a veggie Mandolin or Spiral Slicer at most cooking stores, but a veggie peeler works just fine, if need be. Zucchini, spaghetti squash, and eggplant are all delicious options. When steamed, finish by topping with your favorite pasta sauce and a sprinkle of crushed garlic, and a dash of veggie cheese and parmesan.
If you’re craving the salt and crunch, instead of reaching for those starchy potato or corn chips, go green! Kale chips taste just like chips and are a million times better for you! They are a snap to make in the oven in just minutes or you can use a food dehydrator. You can make all sorts of flavors by sprinkling leaves with flavored oils and vinegars from F. Olivers—sour cream and onion, barbecue, etc. You can find lots of tasty kale chip recipes online. Youtube has some great ones as well…like this one:
Sure, orange juice is loaded with vitamin C (if you make it fresh), but it’s also loaded with sugar—over 30 grams per serving! Green juices offer the nutrition blast without the insulin rush. So get out your juicer and get grinding those veggies. Green vegetable juice is on equal footing with green smoothies. However, due to its lack of fiber (such as that found in whole food smoothies), you’ll want to add in some ground flax or Chia seed before drinking. One of my favorite recipes is: 2 large carrots, one apple, one stalk celery, and 5 cups raw spinach. Better yet, juice the carrots, apple, and celery and then just mix the spinach in with your blender. Now you’ve got all of those nutritious green minerals and vitamins in an enzyme rich drink instead of a processed pill.
6. Veggie Soup.
One of my favorite and FAST veggie recipes is veggie soup. It’s pre-made and the calories are already listed so it makes tracking easy. I often buy low-sodium soup cups such as split pea or black bean soup and simply add boiling water and some chopped raw veggies to my cup. For example, if I make split pea soup, I often throw in a handful of raw or frozen peas, right after my water. It cools my soup down a bit, improves the nutrition profile, and tastes delicious and hearty. Chopped cauliflower and broccoli are excellent additions to soups. Adding beans can quickly increase fiber and protein. You can make your own yummy homemade soups with a blender or a juicer. Once all the ingredients are pureed, you just heat and spice to your liking—it’s kind of like a hot vegetable smoothie. Try this delicious hot “Tomato Soup Smoothie”—you’ll love it!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzMNz57ZW9A
7. Veggie Burgers, Meat Loaf, and Sloppy Joes.
Substitute a veggie burger from time to time in place of that burger you always eat. If you just have to have your burger, blend in some egg white and chopped broccoli to increase the fiber. You’ll never even know the veggies are there! You can make veggie meatloaf and sloppy joes the same way. Throw in some extra onion and green pepper to spice it up a bit. MMM!! Watch out for those high- sodium veggie burgers that contain all sorts of flavorings and preservatives. Making your own black-bean burgers at home is cheaper and healthier. Boy do they taste good! There are a lot of tasty recipes online especially on Youtube…like this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdFRH9IkvdE
Grab some cabbage, carrots, and other tough veggies and get out the food processor. Cabbage is a SUPER FOOD!!! Eat it whenever you can. You can top your “slaw” with your favorite salad dressings or create your own. Store in the fridge and grab a serving when on the go. It’s a great side to a picnic dish or some grilled chicken and baked beans. I love using Vegenaise (available at Wegmans) instead of mayo and xylitol instead of white sugar.
9. Marinate and/or grill vegetables.
Slice up some of your favorite veggies and marinate them for a few hours to soften them up and give them some ZING. You can eat them raw or off the grill. I like a mix of olive oil, garlic, and flavored vinegar. You can marinate broccoli, string beans, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, asparagus, and the list goes on. For a lower calorie option, skip the olive oil and try some of the flavored vinegar varieties from F. Olivers.
10. Steam or bake a sweet potato.
If you want something warm, sweet, and comforting, sweet potatoes are the ways to go! Rather than those starchy white potatoes, sweet potatoes are nutritional—lower glycemic—powerhouses. Homemade sweet squash is easy to make and absolutely delicious! Steam or bake your potato and mix in some organic molasses and xylitol to sweeten. Instead of butter, blend in ½ of an Avocado—MMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!! It doesn’t get any better than that! You can also make tasty sweet-potato pancakes, soups, fries and much more!
Whole food is always your best option, but supplements can have their place when you are on the go. Green powders extracted from foods like barely, wheat grass, chlorella, spirulina, blue-green algae etc. are all excellent choices. When looking for a green powder, look for products that list milligrams per serving and not “proprietary blends.” Watch out for unnecessary fillers and added ingredients. Raw juiced varieties are best. I often use wheat grass powder that I buy at Wegmans. Add them to your shakes, smoothies, or other dishes that will disguise the flavor. They are tough to handle “straight-up.”
I sent the recipe out recently, but if you don’t have it, here it is again:
For Peanut butter: Puree all ingredients in food processor: 1 whole avocado, 6 tablespoons of powdered peanut butter, 2 tablespoons dark cocoa or chocolate whey protein powder, and 1 teaspoon vanilla—MMMMM!
13. Eat raw veggies with Avocado peanut butter, Almond butter, hummus, and other homemade dips.
Plain veggies no more! You can make your veggies whatever flavor you desire—sweet, sour, salty, and fatty. You can experiment with different nut butters, yogurt and French onion dip concoctions, avocado dips, and hummus. Natural sweeteners like xylitol, stevia, honey can sweeten a dish. Garlic, pepper blends, and sea salt can spice things up. Crispy veggies dipped in salsa are so Yummy! There’s no reason your veggies have to be bland and tasteless anymore! My Chocolate Avocado Peanut butter is AWESOME!!!!
14. Eat cauliflower crust pizza and garlic strips instead of white flour products.
My Cauliflower Pizza is so Yummy and a much better option than pizza made with white flour. If you don’t have the recipe yet, you’ll just have to ask me for itJ.
You can stuff a gazillion kinds of veggies into a wrap! Sprouts, greens, diced veggies, tomatoes, avocados, on and on. Look for high fiber, high protein, low sodium, low calorie wraps. Or, better yet, simply wrap veggies up in a large romaine, collard, cabbage, or lettuce leaf, and add your favorite sauces or spices. Add some lean chicken, egg white or turkey to “beef up” the protein a bit. I LOVE avocado slices in my wraps and occasionally I’ll throw in some beans. Yum!
16. Don’t just eat veggies for lunch and dinner—make veggies a part of breakfast as well.
When you try to eat all our veggies later in the day, you probably will never come near your daily quota. We gotta’ start with veggies at breakfast! The key to eating more vegetables is to treat them as a central element/theme to all meals and not simply as a garnish or side dish. Have a green smoothie for breakfast! Fill your egg omelet with spinach, broccoli, peppers, onions, and other veggies you enjoy. If you don’t like omelets, have a serving on the side. Have a serving of fruit on the side to sweeten breakfast upJ
When packing your lunch, what beats a hearty sandwich, some chips—kale chips that is—and a cold drink? Why not load up your sandwich with extra veggies instead of those heavy meat and cheese ones you typically eat? You can still garnish with meat and cheese, but make the veggies the central part of the meal. To lower the carb and grain intake, try it on 2 slices of sprouted Ezekiel bread. My personal sandwich favorite is sliced avocado, bean sprouts, spinach, and a smear of grape-seed oil spread called Vegenaise on top—MMMMMM!!!
18. Make your own veggie salad dressings & dips.
Oil based dressings really jack up the calories fast. Be careful. F. Olivers have some zesty low-calorie vinegar varieties that taste delicious on salads. Try blending avocado and spices into a creamy guacamole and top with quac—it is sooooo delicious—especially on a yummy chicken salad!!
19. Keep sliced veggies around and on hand at all times. Have some healthy dipping sauces around for snacking.
We prefer foods that are: 1. Convenient/Easily accessible; 2. Tasty; and 3. Cheap. We also eat based upon what and who is in our environment. Bags of baby carrots, and other sliced raw veggies are actually quite cheap, convenient, and tasty if prepared correctly. We are a lot less likely to reach chips if our veggies are already in snack form and we have a dip we enjoy. However, if it comes down to a battle between chips and veggies, chips will win if they are in the house. Make a clean sweep and get the junk out of the house. It is too much of a temptation. After you eat the veggies you will feel happy and satisfied. Chips will become a thing of the past. Baked veggie chips are another option. The key is to make sure your veggies are prepared ahead of time into snack form. As soon as you get home from the grocery store, wash and cut your veggies and store in the fridge for easy access. Be sure to have some delicious veggie dips on hand when the snacking urge strikes!
20. Eat your salad before your main meal.
21. Homemade Chili! Mmmm!!!
Throw in a chili starter and tomato sauce to begin and then simply add beans, chili peppers, cumin, and chopped veggies like onions, broccoli, peppers, grated carrot, peas, corn, etc. and let simmer. Delicious!!
Hey, we got on the subject of beans, so let’s keep it tooting…whoops…I mean rolling. Why not make a hearty (not to be confused with farty) bean burrito. Fat-free refried beans are the bomb (no pun intended). They are filled with fiber and protein. Better yet, throw in some cooked black beans, guacamole (can you tell I love quac), fat-free sour cream, greens and sprouts, and any other veggies you love. MMMMM!!!
Okay, we are at the end folks, so go out and get farted…whoops…sorry—I mean STARTED with those veggies! No excuses! They’re too tasty to ignore anymore!