"Eat your vegetables! Eat your vegetables!"
We all know we're supposed to eat them...
If we had talked 2 years ago, I'd have told you the only way I had vegetables was when they were in my morning green smoothie or the salad I sometimes had for lunch. It's not that I hated vegetables. My mom made us eat vegetables growing up, and I had a few I liked. I knew they were good for me, but I just didn't know how to eat more of them in my day without disguising them or eating them in the blandest way possible.
Guys, that is such a sad way to live life. Vegetables are delicious! There's no need to disguise them. Even if you are one of those people who say they hate vegetables, even if you are mostly a carnivore, I bet you can learn to eat and even LIKE vegetables.
I'm not gonna lie. Some of these tips are so basic, so lame, so repetitive, you might actually be mad at me for calling them a tip. But here's the thing: Sometimes you need to be reminded of things you already know. Sometimes you need to be told something in a different way for it to click.
Ok, here goes:
1. Make a big frittata on Sunday for breakfast for the work week. Include eggs, any leftover meat you have, and ALL the veggies that are in your fridge. My favorite breakfast and egg compatible vegetables include: broccoli, onions, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, and zucchini. Each morning, grab a slice, microwave it, top with hot sauce or salsa, and eat as you run out the door for work. Or wake up 10 minutes earlier and eat as you read the newspaper. (I’ve never been one of those people! I am always a mess in the morning!)
Veggies with Your Lunch
2. Have vegetables with your lunch. Whoa. Mind blow. I know, right? But seriously: Bringing a sandwich to work? Cool! Pack a side of vegetables too. Roasted, raw, whatever. Make a compromise. Instead of having a sandwich and chips, have a sandwich and vegetables. Whatever you are going to eat as your main thing, cool- have a side of veggies with it. It works. I promise.
Make Your Veggies Taste Good: Roast ‘Em
3. Stop steaming or microwaving plain vegetables to cook them. It makes them taste blah. No, it makes them taste like warm blah. I grew up eating microwaved frozen bags of green beans, broccoli, and vegetable medley because that's just how things were. (And we'd fight over the lima beans!) It's 2016, and we know more about food and are more creative and have a million ways to make things taste good. Ever have roasted vegetables? They're freaking amazing. Don't be afraid of a little olive oil and salt. (I said "a little!" This is not your excuse to start deep frying your foods.) You can still get that bag of frozen veggies, but this time toss in olive oil, salt, pepper, whatever other spices you want, spread them out on a baking sheet so they don't steam, and cook at 425 degrees for about 35-45 minutes.
Buy Frozen Bags of Veggies
4. BUY FROZEN BAGS OF VEGGIES. They're a life savor! I have a very bad habit of buying food, putting it in my fridge, and then forgetting about it. (I promise I have gotten better about this.) Frozen bags of vegetables will not go bad in a few days. You can buy them, throw them in the freezer, and then use them in a pinch. A protein + veggie is the simplest meal ever. Chicken breast and a bag of roasted green beans. Steak and a bag of roasted broccoli. Pork chop and a bag of roasted mixed veggies. Frozen bags of veggies are also already cut for you, that saves you time! I also like them because they're often cheaper than the fresh variety. A 16 ounce bag of frozen broccoli florets has the stalks already cut off for you and runs about $1.50-$2.50 versus almost $3 with the stalks.
Grill the Veggies
5. Grill those veggies! It’s grill season! You can make some keBOB Ricchios! (My dad’s name is Bob.. Ricchio.. kebob Ricchio…) Kebobs look great, but I found out how time consuming it is to put veggies on skewers, so lately we are going with the sliced grilled veggie route. Sorry Bob! Either way- toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Grill zucchini, onions, yellow squash, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, asparagus… whatever you got!
6. Make more than you think you need. Don’t just make food for one meal. Why roast or grill several times a week when you can just make a giant batch of vegetables one night and reheat for another meal? Yeah do that one. Work smarter, not harder. I think that saying applies here. If we grill on Sunday, we make a ton, and then we have food to work with for lunch or dinner for the week. You can microwave or reheat on a skillet. (And have with scrambled eggs, on a salad, in a burrito, add to a can of soup, whatever!)
Party Tray Veggies
7. Pretend you are having a party, and make a veggie tray for yourself!!! Absolutely do not buy an actual party tray of vegetables. Those are super expensive. Just buy the vegetables that come in those trays: baby carrots, celery, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, broccoli florets, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, bell peppers (if they're on sale! Trade Joe's has red peppers usually for 99 cents), etc. On Sunday, pack 5 Tupperware with 2 cups of veggies. Yes, I said 2. Have for a snack each day with a little bit of hummus.
Double Up on Veggies
8. Eat 2 cups at a meal! Measure your vegetables with a measuring cup. Actually take out a measuring and see what 2 cups of vegetables looks like. 2 cups=2 servings. Eat 2 cups of vegetables with your lunch, 2 cups for a mid-afternoon snack, and 2 cups with your dinner. Ok, so you don't actually have to do that, but aim for at least 4 cups of vegetables for your day. Maybe 2 for a snack and 2 at dinner?? I’ve been eating 6 cups of vegetables and doubling up at meals to make that possible for the last two months. I am going through this personal food evolution and trying to figure out how to eat food to make me feel my best. It started 2 years ago when I tried to drink green smoothies every day but hated them. Then I tried 21 Day Fix but gave up. Then I was all about Whole30 for almost all of 2015 and ate broccoli almost every day for breakfast. I didn’t want to eat broccoli for breakfast anymore, and I missed pizza. I went back to 21 Day Fix for 2 months of 2016. Then I decided to give the Vegan 21 Day Fix plan a try. I love it. I am not doing it because I have anything against meat. I love meat and will eat a giant pulled pork sandwich if it's from a good BBQ place, but eating vegetables with my lunch, snack, and dinner has made me FEEL good. Not like oh man, I am so skinny because I eat vegetables BUT I FEEL ENERGIZED, my skin is clear, my grocery bill is cheap, I am never hungry nor obsessing over food, and I absolutely LOVE the food I am eating. You do NOT need to go vegan. I am not trying to convert you! Just have 2 cups of veggies with that delicious steak! You can do it!
Think About What Plants You’re Counting as Veggies
9. Don't count potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, corn, parsnips, and beans (except string beans and green beans) as vegetables. Yep, they're plant-based, but they also have a lot of carbohydrates. Count them as carbs. They’re good carbs!
Print This Checklist of Veggies
10. Print this checklist to learn what veggies you have in your life right now and what veggies you could add. Stick it on your fridge for safekeeping and try adding a new veggie each week. You might find a new one you like! I am going to learn to like mushrooms this summer... I need to be an adult about this one!