Anyone with any interest in leading a healthy lifestyle knows that vegetables are an important component of any regular diet. Whether losing weight, maintaining it or simply seeking to be as full of energy as you possibly can, most vegetables are miraculous additions to the diet. The difficulty often stems from fitting them in. The easy option is often to simply add a portion or two to every meal, but unless you are a whiz in the kitchen, this can get boring. Instead, we wanted to focus on ways to add just the right amount of vegetables into an existing diet, without necessarily doing anything too far out of the ordinary.
1. Stick to What You Love – and Just Add Veg
Many vegetables are small, inoffensive and can even be tasteless if that is the angle you wish to take, and that makes them perfect for enhancing what you already know and love. If you enjoy a scrambled egg breakfast, adding some small chunks of onion during cooking can add a nice extra taste to the result, get some nutrients into the meal and change basically nothing else about the experience. Layered foods are also great – homemade burgers in a bun can always be improved with lettuce and tomatoes, while lasagnas are perfect for the inclusion of slices of your favorite vegetable.
2. Become a Soup Fan
Many soups involve vegetables by default. When buying pre-made soups, there is a huge range of choice that ensures that you can go for your ideal mix of taste, nutrients and balance. When making soups yourself, the possibilities are basically endless, as you have control not only over the vegetables involved, but also the volumes and seasoning to make something that tastes perfect.
3. Increase your Salad Intake – And Feel Free to Experiment
A side salad is a hearty, healthy addition to most meals, and these salads are likely to be packed with vegetables. The salad can be the centerpiece of a meal, with a balanced selection of vegetables being accompanied by meats, sauces and seasonings, or it can be used to enhance something more conventional. Feel free to look beyond convention here too, as not every salad needs to be based around lettuce leaves. Spinach, cabbage and kale can all take on this role, and anyone with an interest in salad has plenty to explore.
4. Eat them Raw as Snacks
One of the main justifications for a poor diet is a lack of time to prepare something but, vegetables generally require a minimal amount of preparation overall. Celery sticks, carrot sticks and even cauliflower can taste great with no prep at all, and they each go impressively well with a range of dips and sides for the pinnacle of healthy snacking.
5. Pasta is a Veg Hater’s Friend
We’ve all been there – bereft of inspiration and not a whole lot in the cupboard, so the only logical choice is pasta and something. Mushrooms, onions, zucchini and many other vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to most pasta sauces, and they can even serve as the basis for a homemade one. For those that are particularly against eating vegetables for whatever reason, they can be finely chopped so as to be almost unnoticeable too, without missing out on any of the nutrients.
6. Get Creative
Vegetables are much vaunted for weight loss and healthy lifestyles, but they do not need to be boring. Start with a vegetable that you’re fond of, and then use that as the basis for trying something new. This can result in stuffed peppers, cheesy celery sticks or just about anything that could possibly come to mind.
7. If You Can’t Eat It, Drink It
Smoothies and juices are not just the domain of fruit, and anyone seeking to eat better and introduce more vegetables into their diet have plenty of options to explore. Carrot juice is an established, popular choice, albeit not to everyone’s tastes, but there is room for experimentation here too. That same carrot juice can serve as the basis for quite the cocktail, and both premixed and home-made vegetable drinks are just as packed with nutrients as the main vegetable itself.
8. Pizza Perfection
Italian-inspired cuisine is on to something. Much as we recommended pasta as the perfect baseline for a vegetable meal, pizza works just as well. Depending on how you have it, it may not be the healthiest meal in the world, but a pizza base is a blank slate. Even if you prefer a meat feast or pepperoni, simply adding peppers, onions, mushrooms or anything else that comes to mind can add balance to a favorite meal.
9. Grill and Barbecue the Healthy Way
When we think of barbecues, our mind turns to burgers, hot dogs and grilled chicken. However, vegetables have a part to play here too and grilled vegetables are actually nicer than their raw counterparts. Alternate chicken chunks with peppers on a skewer for a fantastic grilled treat, or just place them on the grill until they start to char for a smoky, healthy flavor.
10. Combine Nutrition with Convenience
There are always going to be situations where grabbing carrot sticks is not going to be the easy option for a snack, and we all find ourselves grabbing a burger occasionally. If you are willing to make the effort, you can add more vegetables to your standard meal, swap out parts of it for a salad or even buy them separately, all balancing out the calorie intake nicely without sacrificing your favorite part.