5 Easy Ways to Get More Veggies in Your Life
eg up your life with these quick tips and tricks that make it easier to rack up essential vitamins and nutrients.
It's never a bad idea to get your salad on for lunch, but making sure you jam the recommended amount of vegetables into every busy day can be daunting. The USDA's current guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables from across the spectrum of veggie types daily — a bit beyond baby carrots and hummus. SOUL caught up with two busy fitness bloggers to get their best tips for fitting the daily allotment of produce into a packed schedule.
1. Start early... literally.
Worried about eating all the veggies you need in a day? Get a head start by adding a portion of produce alongside your breakfast. Susie Lemmer, a Chicago trainer and blogger who writes at SuzLyfe.com, says, "I start every day with breakfast, and that includes a handful of baby carrots! I love the crisp, cool, crunch in the morning, plus the fiber helps bulk up my meal." She also knocks out another daily portion by making sure she adds a small side salad to most meals.
2. Prep for success.
It's like you've seen in those inspirational Pinterest quotes: plan to succeed. If you take the time to prep and portion vegetables for several days ahead, making sure you have a healthy snack to throw in your bag is as easy as reaching into the fridge and grabbing your pre-packed baggie. On Sundays and Wednesdays, blogger and health and wellness coach Joanne Encarnacion of gofitjo.com says she and her husband spend a few hours meal prepping so they can put together healthy meals and snacks in minutes.
"At home, I love to cut up some celery," she says. "I always have crudité ready that I can pack in a Ziploc bag if I'm out around."
3. Utilize your surroundings.
If you don't have time to prep mounds of veggies for the days ahead, don't panic. There's no shame in ducking into Whole Foods or any store with a good salad bar to load up on ready-to-chomp vegetables. Falling prey to wilting produce? (It's happened to the best of us.) Encarnacion recommends stocking up on frozen vegetables, which are pre-cut and typically flash-frozen immediately, so they're still fresh. "That's our other freshest staple," she says.
4. Variety is the spice (of veggies).
Remember that 2.5-cup rec? As it turns out, chowing down that much romaine once a day every day just won't cut it. The USDA recommends that your veggie servings include a variety of colors and textures to make sure you're getting an appropriate diversity of nutrients. Beyond that, doesn't cramming down wads of lettuce every day just sound... boring? To keep things interesting, Encarnacion suggests changing it up.
"Experiment and learn what your flavor palate will be excited with," she says. "People think of just salads and there are things that are really tasty like bell peppers that people might not think to explore. They're juicy but there's still some spice to it and it's not just overly green and bland and there's a lot of flavor. Explore different vegetables to see what's exciting for you."
For her part, Lemmer recommends jicama and fennel as less obvious veggie picks.
5. Get creative.
Getting your veggies in doesn't always have to mean salad. Lemmer recommends using raw spiralized veggies as an unexpected base for a meal.
"I love to spiralize veggies like zucchini, cucumber, sweet potato, and other favorites instead of pasta or even as a fun take on a salad," she said. "An easy mustard balsamic pulls everything together!"
Encarnacion suggests another option, no chewing required: "A fresh green juice from your local juice spot also does the trick."