May 1, 2011
How to Eat More Vegetables

You don’t have to be a dietitian to know that vegetables are good for you. Most of us understand that broccoli > Cheetos and apple pie counts more towards dessert than fruit.  So, why are we lacking in our intake? If study after study proves the oomph factor that vegetables give to our bodies and minds, why does most of the population struggle to get in 1 serving a day?

You could answer that question lots of ways, but I’m taking the DK approach. Unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to cook vegetables so they are appealing. (That is unless you regularly follow this veggie love blog! Go Spaghetti Squash,go!)

If the option is between steamed broccoli, canned green beans, or tator tots you can bet what most of us would choose for a side. Sure, canned and steamed vegetables can be great options but if that’s the only way vegetables are ever presented then I get why we don’t eat ’em.

Let’s change that.

1. PIMP MY DINNER! Add vegetables into dishes you already love. No one is forcing you to put down the pasta fork but throw in some peppers, peas, & leeks and we’ve got a game changer. This is an especially important point for parents. As we discussed above, if the option is mixed vegetable medley and creamy mac and cheese then I can already guess what junior is going to choose. This is a DK trick of adding more “nutrient dense” foods in exchange for “caloric dense” ones. Vegetables are chock-full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber (nutrient rich, not calorie rich). Adding 1 cup of cooked vegetables to your average pasta meal increases your portion without adding many calories. Cut down the pasta by 1/2, add double the vegetables and you’ve just PIMPED your dinner. You can do the same think with quesadillas, scrambles, burritos, stir-frys and on. Before cooking ask yourself, where can I add a vegetable or two? The possibilities are endless.

2. GO ETHNIC. As a true spice lover, Indian and Thai food have a very special place in my heart. I also love the fact that they make vegetables taste divine because they let them shine. Vegetables don’t have to be a lonely side dish. Replace chicken with cauliflower and your vindaloo just become a heart healthier meal. Tandoori eggplant, vegetable curry, Chick pea Channa Masala are just some examples of veggie-centered meals. Most cuisines, especially Asian Cuisine, tend to highlight vegetables and use them in creative ways. Break out of your rut, grab a new cookbook and go crazy!
Remember, it takes us about 10 times to like a new food. If you don’t think you or your kids will like something, try, try, try again. Taste buds do change!

3. HAVE YOU HUGGED A APPLE TODAY? Let’s not forget about fruit. Sure, fruit can be higher in calories than vegetables but did anyone ever gain weight eating too much watermelon? Don’t listen to people who tell you that fruit is bad for you. Sure, cherry cheesecake isn’t a winner but that’s not the cherry’s fault.  Fruit gets a bad rap because it contains fructose. But the fructose in fruit isn’t like the fructose found in agave nectar or high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose in fruit is diluted, unlike sugary fructose syrups. Fruit also contains fiber which helps to slow release and absorption of such sugar.  Eat up as we enter into summer where  fresh fruit is plentiful and begging to be added to your favorite recipes.

What are your favorite vegetable centered meals or cooking ideas? Share the wealth!

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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