Our third habit in the Healthy Habits Challenge is to consume 4 handfuls of veggies each day, as they are essential to a healthy and balanced diet. Those who eat more vegetables (and fruits) as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of many chronic diseases. Vegetables are low in calories and fat, and high in nutrients, such as vitamins A & C, potassium, folate, and fiber- which all benefit our health.
Dietary fiber from veggies helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and can help to lower your risk of heart disease, including heart attack and stroke. The fiber in vegetables helps to give you a feeling of fullness with fewer calories than other foods- therefore helping to reduce your overall calorie consumption as part of a balanced diet. Eating a diet rich in veggies and fruits can also help reduce your risk for certain types of cancer.
Whether you're a veggie lover, hater or tolerator- the health benefits are undeniable! We’ve compiled the perfect list to help you incorporate vegetables into your daily diet:
1) Mix & Match!
Mix veggies into meals you already LOVE. This is one of the easiest and sneakiest ways to incorporate a healthy serving of vegetables into almost any food combinations. Slide some spinach into your omelette, mix some broccoli into your mac and cheese, some zucchini into your spaghetti, or pack your quesadilla with a load of peppers.
The combinations between vegetables and meals could be endless, giving you the perfect opportunity to integrate necessary servings to even the most renowned veggie hater.
2) Think Outside the Box!
Substitute veggies for other processed ingredients. You can do this by substituting a less-than-healthy ingredient with rich vegetables.For example: replace pizza crust with cauliflower crust, substitute spaghetti noodles with vegetable zoodles, or replace fried chips/french fries with oven-baked vegetable crisps.
This will give you the opportunity to get creative with your food. Vegetables can act as a great, healthy alternative for other ingredients, especially high concentrated carbs.
3) Get Those Greens!
Add a side salad to your meals. Whether its dinner, lunch, or breakfast (okay… a breakfast salad may be a little out of the norm) including a colorful side salad is a great way to add some veggies into your diet. Salads are offered as a side at almost every restaurant/fast food chain, making them an easily accessible option. This will also help fill you up and keep you from unhealthy snacking after your meals.
Now, you may be thinking “But salads are boring!” This isn't always the case! You can spice up your salad with yummy dressings, protein packed nuts, egg, bacon crumbles, and delicious cheeses. (Just be careful of too many added calories.)
4) Drink It Up!
Blend a handful of veggies into a smoothie/protein shake. If you’re not interested in eating your veggies? Drink em’! You can utilize well known vegetable drink brands such as V8 or try your own homemade mix. Some popular vegetables for smoothies include: spinach, carrots, kale, beets, pumpkin and cabbage. Mix those veggies with some frozen fruits and you won’t even taste them in there!
This option not only packs all the benefits of eating vegetables, it also provides an easy source for hydration.
5) Dip ‘Em!
Use dips to add more flavor to your raw veggies. Raw vegetables are a great snack for parties, family events, or just hanging out at home. Dipping your vegetables gives them a little extra flavor and adds a little more spice to your snacking.
You can find a wide varied of dips at your local grocery store or create your own unique dip at home! Popular dips include: french onion dip, guacamole, artichoke dip, bean dip, buffalo chicken dip, hummus, cheese dip and more. Creamy based dips can be made with plain greek yogurt as the base, for a protein packed healthier option.
6) Be Soup-er!
Soups are a great way to get in veggies, along with your protein! There are so many brothy vegetable laden soup recipes out there- find one you like and toss it in your crock pot for the day. Easy peasy! Soups can feel like a comfort food, and extra warming on these chilly winter days.
We’ve shared lots of soup recipes in our members Healthy Habits group, so be sure to scroll through the feed to find tons of healthy recipes to keep on top of your veggie intake.
These are just a few of the countless ways to add vegetable intake into your everyday diet. Have fun with your food and get creative! Try new veggies, cooked and seasoned in different ways and be open to new tastes and flavors. Try those new veggies a few times and give your taste buds a chance to adjust. You might just find that you really enjoy them! Be sure to eat a variety of different colors of veggies and fruits to get a variety of different vitamins and minerals!
Post by Samantha McKain and Alicia Haller