Vegetables aren’t the most popular food, but they are good for you. As a person who never liked vegetables growing up, I know just how hard it can be to incorporate them into your diet as an adult.
Luckily, this article features some creative ways to increase your vegetable intake. However, let’s examine the health benefits of consuming vegetables.
Health Benefits Of Vegetables
Vegetable consumption is associated with improved gastrointestinal health, as well as a decreased risk of heart attack, specific types of cancer, and chronic diseases like diabetes. For example, broccoli, beets, and carrots are fiber-rich vegetables. Dietary fiber may help control blood glucose concentration and reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
In contrast, consuming a good amount of tomatoes and tomato products is associated with a reduction in carcinogenesis (when normal cells transform into cancer cells), especially related to prostate cancer. The decrease in carcinogenesis is associated with lycopene, the compound responsible for the tomato’s vivid red color.
Furthermore, antioxidants in vegetables are also associated with a decreased risk of specific cancers. Broccoli, spinach, kale, and bell peppers are rich in carotenoids. Consuming these carotenoid-rich vegetables is related to low-density lipoprotein oxidation resistance and decreased DNA damage.
Carotenoids may also decrease the risk of obesity and brain-related diseases. One meta-analysis found that carotenoid consumption and circulating blood concentration were associated with reduced mortality.
How To Add More Vegetables To Your Diet
With all the healthy benefits of consuming vegetables, it’s essential to incorporate these healthy foods into your diet. Use these 11 techniques to add more vegetables to your diet.
Add Vegetables To Breakfast
Vegetables and breakfast go hand in hand. For example, add vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, onions, and bell peppers to your omelet.
You can also add vegetables such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and shredded carrots or zucchini to your pancakes and waffles. You can also add spinach, kale, carrots, and avocados to your smoothies.
Soups are the perfect way to pack more veggies into your diet. It is very easy to prepare. You can use a broth base to make a light, tasty soup such as double green cauliflower soup or a cream base to create a creamy, rich soup.
Ditch The Bread And Wraps
Put the sandwich rolls and tortillas down. Use lettuce instead. It’s the perfect way to reduce the total carb count of a meal.
Butter lettuce leaves, iceberg lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and even cabbage leaves are great substitutes for bread or tortillas.
Add Vegetables To Your Stuffing
If you are making stuffing, you can replace some or all the bread with vegetables. You can use root vegetables such as turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash. I used spinach, onions, and bell peppers to make air fryer stuffed chicken.
Try Vegetable Noodles
Vegetable noodles are easy to make. Plus, since they are low-calorie vegetables, they make an excellent stand-in for carb-rich pasta.
To spiralize the vegetables, all you need is a spiralizer. If you don’t have a vegetable spiralizer, you can also shred the vegetables or use a mandolin to cut them into thin ribbons.
The most common types of vegetable noodles are zucchini noodles. However, you can make beet noodles, butternut squash noodles, sweet potato noodles, and carrot noodles.
Essentially you can turn any vegetable into noodles. Once you make the vegetable noodles, you can use them in dishes that call for pasta, such as spaghetti or alfredo. However, the vegetable noodles should only be cooked for 2-3 minutes until they are tender to prevent them from overcooking.
Vegetable chips are an easy, fun way to add vegetables to your diet. I love using my dehydrator to make vegetable chips like carrot chips. Even though they are technically a fruit since they are treated as vegetables, you can also make plantain chips.
You can also make spinach chips, kale chips, beet chips, or Brussel sprouts chips.
If you don’t own a dehydrator, cut the vegetables into thin slices and bake them in the oven. This will yield a crispier chip if you make them in the oven.
You can also rice vegetables. Cauliflower rice and broccoli rice are the most popular varieties. However, the list of rice vegetables is quickly expanding.
You can purchase riced vegetables in your grocery store’s frozen food section. However, you can also make homemade riced vegetables in your food processor or chop them into tiny pieces by hand.
Add Vegetables To Ground Meat
You can add vegetables to ground chicken, ground beef, and ground lamb to decrease the calorie count and make it healthier. For example, you can add riced broccoli, minced onions and bell peppers, shredded carrots or zucchini, or chopped mushrooms to your meatballs or meatloaf.
I love fries. However, they are not limited to potatoes.
You can make avocado fries, zucchini fries, asparagus fries, green bean fries, and so much more. You can lightly bread them with gluten-free breadcrumbs or almond meal, and bake or air fry them until they are golden brown.
Tomato sauce is not the only vegetable sauce. You can use roasted red bell peppers, beets, butternut squash, and even carrots to make a vegetable sauce. You can pair the vegetable sauce with vegetable noodles to make it even healthier.
Lastly, you can use vegetables to make dessert. You can use carrots to make carrot cake or use zucchini and summer squash to make zucchini squash bread. You can also use pumpkin and carrots in bread or avocado to make chocolate cake and chocolate pudding.
Vegetables are a staple part of a healthy diet. So you’ve got to find interesting creative ways to add them to your diet, especially if you do not like them.
Remember, there is always an opportunity to add vegetables to every meal.