Last night I was teaching a weight loss/lifestyles course. I asked the participants how they had done last week and if they had noticed anything about themselves since they began tracking their daily intake. One of the participants stated she noticed she often doesn’t meet her vegetable daily requirements and this surprised her because she generally thought of herself as someone who ate a good amounts of vegetables on a regular basis. Her comment really didn’t surprise me because even as a Dietitian, I still have days where I think about what I ate for the day and realize I didn’t eat a single vegetable!
Canada’s Food Guide recommends for an adult women to have 7-8 servings of vegetables & fruit per day and for an adult man to have 8-10. Therefore, in general the average person should be having 4-7 vegetable servings per day. A serving meaning 1 cup leafy green vegetables or 1/2 cup any other vegetable. So take moment and think about what you had to eat yesterday, are you meeting that guideline?
I think meeting the guideline for vegetables every single day really takes pre-planning and being mindful of your daily intake. But to make it easy on you, I’ve come up with the top 5 ways to boost your vegetable intake!
1. Have vegetables for breakfast!
Now I’m not saying you should have a salad for breakfast, though if you want to, by all means! But there are ways to incorporate vegetables into your typical breakfast foods. Try making a smoothie with vegetables – leafy greens such as kale & spinach work great. (kale smoothie recipe). You can vegetables to muffins (morning glory muffin), pancakes (zucchini protein pancake) & waffles. You can add vegetables to your eggs and make omelette, fritatta, quiche, etc.
2. Prep Vegetables As Soon As You Get Home
After you’ve finished grocery shopping, wash and if possible, cut up your vegetables. You are much more likely to eat vegetables if they are ready to go. If you buy vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumber and have them ready, you can munch on them as a snack while you are preparing dinner. If you are short on time, you can buy many vegetables pre washed, pre chopped to save you time. Although, you will pay for this convenience.
3. Plan Your Day & Be Mindful of Choices
Like I mentioned, eating enough vegetables often comes down to planning. Think about what you are going to eat the next day for lunch & supper, there should be a vegetable at each of these meals. If you are packing a lunch for work, ensure you are packing a vegetable. If you are going out for lunch, be mindful of your choices. Rather than ordering a soup & sandwich, consider the salad with your sandwich so that you are meeting your daily vegetable requirements.
4. Keep Frozen Vegetables On Hand
Frozen vegetables are great for dinners when you haven’t preplanned a vegetable choice. You can put frozen vegetables with a small amount of water in a microwave safe bowl and have vegetables ready to serve within minutes.
5. Make Vegetables Fun & Tasty
Many people complain that they don’t like the taste of vegetables. There are so many ways to prepare vegetables, there has to be one that works for you! Oven roasted vegetables are my favourite, almost any vegetable with a small amount of olive oil & some seasonings roasted in the oven turns out amazing. Also, try new vegetables. You don’t have to stick to corn, peas & carrots all the time. Check out the produce section in your grocery store and pick out a vegetable you have never tried before.
Do you usually meet your recommended vegetable intake? What’s your favourite way to prepare vegetables?