One of my awesome readers asked how she can get plenty of veggies in her diet without getting bored. (Clearly, she gets that eating vegetables is one of the most fundamental aspects of eating for our health and waistlines!) Well, to be honest, she asked me how to get plenty of greens in her diet without getting bored, but as I explained in the post about eating a rainbow, we shouldn’t only focus on greens. And since the same guidance applies no matter what color we need, I’m answering the question more generally.
Here are my five suggestions for getting more and a wider variety of veggies in your diet.
1. Be willing to include veggies in any meal or snack.
We often think of including vegetables as a side with dinner. And we may think about vegetables in a salad at lunch. But try to think of ways you can include vegetables at every meal and snack.
For breakfast, I have a smoothie every morning that includes a serving of greens. You can also have scrambled eggs or a frittata which easily accept a wide variety of added veggies.
For snacks, consider having a smoothie… you can even make a green smoothie your kids’ after-school treat. And extend your raw veggie options to include things other than just baby carrots. Sliced bell peppers (all colors!) or cucumbers, celery or jicama sticks, radishes, green beans and snap peas are all great handheld snacks.
2. Buy a vegetable at the grocery store or farmers’ market that is completely foreign to you.
One of my dear friends actually gave me this idea. She was trying to expand her vegetable repertoire, so she went to her local farmers’ market and literally bought two veggies that she had never heard of. Even though she had no idea how to prepare them, she is a super intelligent woman and knew that she could figure that part out later with the help of the internet.
You could also do this the opposite way by just picking a recipe out of a cookbook (or off the web) that highlights a vegetable you’ve never used and then go buy it. I did this recently with celery root (aka celeriac) and ended up with a super yummy celery root and potato hash!
3. Eat seasonally.
We know that eating seasonally is great for the environment and ensures you are getting the most nutritious food because you can purchase produce near to the location and time of harvest. What you may not have realized is that eating seasonally will automatically change up your veggie routine.
Sure, there are some veggies that are basically in season year-round (like carrots and arugula), but most produce is only harvested for one or two seasons each year and is best eaten during that time. So, if you eat in season then you will only have asparagus in the spring and tomatoes in August and September. (Can we all agree that it is a wonderful thing to taste that first really delicious heirloom tomato from the farmers’ market in August?!)
4. Experiment with different preparation methods.
I know that with the recommendation to eat a ton of veggies every day (that’s a technical amount, by the way!), we can’t always mix it up by eating different kinds of vegetables at every meal every day. Another way to keep it interesting is to prepare them in different ways.
Here is an example using collard greens (since I was specifically asked about greens)…
- Sauté with crisp bacon and browned onions
- Braise with onions, garlic, tomatoes and cayenne to yield a soupy side dish
- Stir fry with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, five-spice powder and peanuts
- Cream them with butter, garlic, shallots, nutmeg… and, of course, heavy cream
5. Use soups and salads to their full veggie-loaded, flavor-flexible capability.
It’s easy to get in a rut with things like soup or salad, but honestly the options for creativity in these two dishes are endless! You can toss just about any vegetable in your salad! Some of my favorite unusual options are green beans, beets, mushrooms, corn, peas, jicama and purple cabbage.
As well, soups come in all shapes and sizes (so to speak)… from a simple carrot ginger puree to a mixed vegetable stew. Try all the different varieties to keep your veggie intake interesting.
Thank you, Alison, for asking such a great question!