We know we need to eat more vegetables, but for many of us, it can seem nearly impossible to achieve the recommended daily 2½ to 3 cups of vegetables in a healthy diet. Recently, a few of our registered dietitians weighed in on a question that many of us face on a daily basis: "I hate vegetables, but I need to eat more of them, so how do I get them into my diet?"
Veggies hold all sorts of amazing benefits and come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. From the starchy potatoes and beans to the leafy greens of lettuce and kale, these wonder foods provide nutrient-rich energy that gets us through the day. Vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, protein and fiber that keep you happy and healthy.
But how do we begin to incorporate more vegetables into our busy lifestyles? Use these three tactics to help kick-start your track to healthier eating.
Incorporate vegetables throughout your entire day; they're more than just a side.
Replace junk foods such as candy or chips with baby carrots, celery or other small vegetables.
Getting children to eat vegetables can be challenging. Franciscan Health registered dietitian Gretchen Heidenreich, RD, CD, suggests "having them come to the grocery store with you. Say, 'Hey, look at all these veggies. Pick out one that you want and we'll cook it together.' Cut them in fun shapes, try them different ways."
Haven't tried broccoli or Brussel sprouts since you were a kid? Give them another try. Your tastes have probably changed since then.
Think outside the box. There are many varieties of vegetables that may have never come to mind. "Explore something new. Give yourself a task. Maybe try one or two vegetables that you have never tried before per week. And slowly you will be able to find you have a lot more options than you ever thought before," said Yu-Han Huang, MS, RD, CD, Franciscan Health registered dietitian.
Vegetables with dinner shouldn't just be the lettuce and tomato on your burger. There are thousands of videos on social media showing how to cook great recipes in your own home.
Find new ways to prepare veggies. Fight bland produce with the countless varieties of seasoning blends or spices that are available just a few aisles away from the veggies in your supermarket. Or, grab fresh herbs while at the farmer's market.
Include vegetables in your favorite meals. Have a regular dish you love to make for dinner? Try introducing veggies as a compliment to your favored foods.
Still not a fan? Consider some ways to hide veggies in ways that you won’t taste them like blending into a morning smoothie or mixing small pieces in with rice or soup.