There are several good reasons for eating healthy vegetables. A veggie-rich diet can help in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, controlling blood pressure (e.g. beetroot), protecting bones and a whole lot more. Vibrant colored vegetables are packed with all the essential minerals, vitamins and fiber.
This keeps you feeling fuller on lesser calories for a longer time. I always suggest that your plate should be half-full with vegetables and fruits at every single meal.
This may sound really basic and simple, but studies have shown that most of us find the thought of focusing more on vegetables to be a bit of a challenge. The best way to ensure that you are eating more vegetables is to stock more of them in your fridge.
Research has linked a vegetable-rich diet with a lowered heart disease risk. Most people in the U.K end up eating only 50% of the recommended vegetable servings.
Meals that are rich in fresh produce can help in lowering weight, reduce the risk of heart disease and help to detoxify your body.
If you find that it’s too difficult to get the recommended servings of vegetables into your diet, here are some pointers that can make eating healthy vegetables easy and fun:
Top protein foods with vegetables- Its very common for us to top a cooked fish, meat or poultry dish with a sauce. Replace the sauce with sautéed vegetables like tomatoes, onions and peppers. They have a whole lot of nutrients and flavor. In addition to this, they also boost the portion size without adding too many calories.
Replace carbs with veggies- Lighten the carbs content in your food with healthy vegetables. If you relish cheesy mashed potatoes but want to avoid all the calories they contain, replace a portion of the potatoes with any cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage belong to this vegetable family. They are rich with phytochemicals, minerals, vitamins and fiber. You get fewer calories but you also get more antioxidants. Similarly, pasta can also be replaced with vegetables.
Replace bread with lettuce leaves- This is a winner. The next time you fix yourself a sandwich, use lettuce leaves in place of bread. They are literally calorie-free and can be used in sandwiches and wraps.
Use any filling like a chicken salad, tuna or stir-fried vegetables. You can also eat them with a fat-trimmed meat burger. Or try large flat mushrooms as pizza bases; place the mushrooms on a baking tray, underside up, cover with your choice of topping and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Let’s do the salsa- This low-cal; low-fat condiment is high on the fiber and flavor scale. It packs wholesome healthy vegetables into every half cup. Tip: spice it up with a few drops of Tabasco or Lea & Perrins sauce.
Much ado about spinach- Add this wonderful green to stews, casseroles and soups. It boosts the volume and you feel like you are getting more in every spoonful, and the calories are virtually non-existent. NB spinach is a good source of iron and beneficial for those who are anaemic (a particular problem for young mothers)
Dress up the veggies- If you just keep steaming your vegetables, you are going to get tired of them real fast. Sprinkle some olive oil and any “no-calorie” flavoring like sherry vinegar or garlic and you will have one of the most delicious healthy recipes on your plate. Who said low-cal eating has to be boring. Spice it up in your own unique style and enjoy every bite you take. Tip: use herbs, dried or fresh, to add depth and complexity. Chives with potatoes and parsley with carrots are tasty examples.
The endamme matter- Endamme or green soybeans can be an amazing addition to your diet. They have satisfying fiber and protein. Add them to soups, stir fries and salads or puree and use to make burghers and rissoles.
The night vegetables- Tomatoes, potatoes, hot peppers, cayenne peppers, pepinos, tamarios and eggplants are only some of the nightshade vegetables. They all contain low amounts of alkaloids that can impact digestive and nerve-muscle function in humans. People who are sensitive to alkaloids should stay away from these vegetables. Tomatoes are particularly useful in keeping certain cancers at bay.
I follow a simple rule. Make the most of all the foods you eat and look forward to eating healthy. You have to learn to make healthy food choices which will help you live a healthy life.
Looking for more ideas of how to incorporate more vegetables into your diet? Contact me and I’d be glad to share all of my healthy recipes with you.