Eat your veggies! We’ve heard that line since we were little kids. Your parents may have even withheld dessert until you finished all of the green stuff on your plate (did you toss your Brussels sprouts to the dog under the table too?). It seems even as adults, many of us struggle to get the recommended serving of daily veggies. Think about it … how many vegetables did you eat today? One salad? A few broccoli florets dipped in salad dressing for an afternoon snack? While it’s better than nothing, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services actually recommends people eat nine servings of fruits and veggies every day. That translates to about 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables daily. To help you bump up the number of veggies you eat throughout the day, check out these 16 creative tips.
Juicing is one of the best things you can do for your body. It’s great for your digestive health since the food is already broken down. It also helps keep you hydrated, helps your body stay alkaline, can boost your brain power, detoxes your cells, and provides you with a natural energy boost. Of course, I can’t forget one of the main benefits of juicing: It gets you to eat plenty of vegetables without even realizing it. You may even eat a wider variety of veggies you may not otherwise eat. Instead of chewing stalks of celery, which doesn’t sound very appealing to many people, you can simply drink the celery juice. Don’t like the taste of celery? Add some fruit to your morning juice to mask the taste!
You can juice just about any vegetable your little heart desires — from cucumbers, celery, and bell peppers to carrots, beets, and spinach. You can also add fresh herbs into your juicer for an extra kick of flavor and nutrients. While the possibilities are pretty much endless, here are three juice recipes. You can follow them as they are or play around to add your favorite vegetables.
Immune-Boosting Green Juice – This recipe calls for leafy greens, celery, ginger, and a lemon. All of these ingredients pack a ton of vitamins and minerals that boost the immune system and detox the body. It also calls for pineapple, apple, and mint leaves to give it a robust flavor.
Hot Pink Juice – Made with beets, carrots, kale, celery, ginger, a lemon, and an apple, this juice recipe proves a drink doesn’t have to be green to be super nutritious!
Carrot Apple Ginger Juice – After reading the name, you can pretty much guess what ingredients are used in this juice recipe! Now let’s talk about the benefits — it’s great for your skin, eyes, and immunity!
*It’s important to note that vegetable juice should not replace a full meal because it simply doesn’t contain enough protein or fiber. Instead, drink vegetable juice along with your meals or in between meals.
While many doctors call fresh juice a 15-minute expressway to health, smoothies aren’t far behind. The blended drink is also extremely easy to digest, meaning your body will absorb more nutrients. Additionally, it can get you to eat more produce than you otherwise would. If you’re someone who thinks smoothies are just chock full of sugar and fruits, though, think again. While fruit smoothies are extremely popular (and certainly delicious), there is such a thing as vegetable smoothies. All you have to do is toss your veggies into a blender with some liquid and voila — you have a refreshing and healthy vegetable smoothie. The real trick is to mask the vegetable taste by pairing your greens with one or two sweet pieces of fruit. This will make the drink both nutritious and delicious. Some other great smoothie building tips include:
- Put your liquid in first. Surround the blades by water or juice so they can move more easily.
- Start slowly. If your blender offers different speeds then start on the lowest speed. Then work your way up to faster speeds that will puree your veggies/fruits.
- Use organic ingredients whenever possible to avoid pesticides, chemicals, and GMOs.
Over the years, eggs have gotten a pretty bad reputation. Some people avoid eggs altogether because they believe the high fat and cholesterol content make them unhealthy. Then there are the people who only eat egg whites because they believe the yolk is the only unhealthy part. According to researchers, the truth is, eating whole eggs is extremely good for you. They are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and good cholesterol. Plus, adding some vegetables into your morning eggs just bumps up the nutritional value even more. Some veggies that taste great in an omelet include:
- Bell peppers
You can either add one vegetable to your morning eggs or mix in a whole bunch. Here are some delicious mixtures:
Skinny Greek Omelet – With a mixture of veggies, onions, and basil leaves, this is a great brunch or “brinner” option!
Vegetable Frittatas – Have a little more fun with your egg/veggie mixture by making omelet muffins. This delicious and easy-to-make frittata recipe calls for onions, basil, zucchini, and peppers. Of course, you can always swap out any of these vegetables for your favorites!
Stir-frying is a quick cooking method where meats and vegetables are seared over a high heat. It requires little oil, doesn’t take much time to cook, and it’s typically loaded with vegetables. While stir-fries are usually associated with Asian food, you can use a variety of other flavors.
Asian Zucchini Stir Fry Noodles – This dish is the ultimate take-out fake-out! The sauce tastes just like a healthier version of the one served at your local Chinese store. The biggest difference is this recipe ditches the rice noodles and uses zucchini noodles instead. I’ll talk more about veggie noodles (and how to create them) below!
5) Cauliflower Rice
When cauliflower rice is made correctly you can almost fool yourself into thinking it’s the real thing. Start by chopping your cauliflower into large chunks. Then, throw your veggie into a food processor and begin pulsing. This will create small bits that resemble the size of rice grains. Be careful not to over process, though, or else your cauliflower rice will end up more like cauliflower powder. It may take a few tries before you get it just right, but it’s definitely worth it! This dish is absolutely delicious and your brain won’t even realize you’re munching on a plate of veggies.
Just like with regular white or brown rice, cauliflower rice can be prepared in a number of different ways to compliment a variety of dishes.
Mexican Cauliflower Rice – This dish features a mixture of vegetables and is topped with hot chili pepper. Did you know hot peppers can help rev your metabolism? Double bonus!
10 Minute Healthy Fried Rice – If you prefer the classic fried rice taste that you would get at a Chinese restaurant then this is definitely a great recipe for you. The only difference is it’s not loaded with carbs and the sauce is way healthier.
6) Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Give someone a head of cauliflower and they can turn it into a handful of different meals! In my opinion, this one is really cool. If you avoid pizza because you eat gluten-free or just don’t want to eat all of the carbohydrates then you’re in luck. You can easily swap out the dough crust for a cauliflower-based crust. There are a bunch of different recipes on the internet, but I am sharing one that is easy-to-make, won’t take you much time to whip up, and your taste buds will love.
To make this cauliflower pizza crust, start by putting chunks of cauliflower into a food processor and pulse (just like with the rice recipe). Then you will microwave the cauliflower powder, let it cool, and ring out any liquid. Once you add in the remaining ingredients you will be left with a beautiful dough ball! Spread it out to look like a pizza crust, pop that baby in the oven, and voila!
7) Cauliflower Steak
Throw some cauliflower on the barbie! If you’ve ever eaten grilled veggies then you know how delicious they are. The grill brings out a special flavor that can be rather addicting (good thing they’re vegetables and your waistline won’t mind if you go back for seconds)! When you’re making this dish, you won’t need a food processor. Simply chop the cauliflower into thick slabs (3-4 inches thick), season it, and grill! If you don’t have a grill, you can also make your “steak” in the oven. Why not try it both ways?
Grilled Chipotle Lime Cauliflower Steak – This dish only takes about 10 minutes to make and is loaded with flavor. No need to buy any dressing – this recipe will show you how to make your own healthy Chipotle dressing.
Cauliflower Steaks with Ginger, Turmeric, and Cumin – If you’re looking for a superfood dish that will work as a natural pain killer and digestive aid then you must make this one. Ginger, turmeric, and cumin are some of the most powerful spices on the planet. They are known to boost the immune system, fight cancer, and benefit the body in many other ways.
Crispy Parmesan Cauliflower Steaks – Give your “steak” an Italian twist with this breadcrumb-coated cauliflower steak. It’s topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs.
8) Cauliflower Buffalo “Chicken” Wings
In the middle of your healthy eating streak have you ever gotten a craving for buffalo wings? They’re fun during football season, parties, or just for dinner in front of the television. Since not everyone’s diet allows for chicken wings, why not try a healthier alternative like cauliflower buffalo wings? They will definitely taste different than traditional wings, but they’re still delicious and a whole lot of fun.
Healthy Buffalo Chicken Bites – Just like with any wing dish, feel free to play around with the flavors. This recipe uses a buffalo sauce, but you can also toss your cauliflower florets in barbecue sauce, parmesan sauce, or any anything other wing sauce your taste buds crave.
9) Veggie Burgers
Veggie burgers made our list of “17 Foods You Think Are Healthy, But Aren’t.” That’s because when it comes to veggie burgers, many are loaded with unhealthy fillers such as yeast extract, cornstarch, and gums. That certainly doesn’t mean that healthy store bought veggie burgers don’t exist, you just have to read the ingredient label very carefully. If the first few ingredients listed aren’t vegetables … RUN! To be on the safe side, you can also make your own veggie burgers at home. They only take a few minutes to whip up and will bring you peace of mind knowing exactly what you’re eating:
Black Bean Veggie Burger – The black beans give this burger a nice consistency and offer your body a healthy dose of fiber. Did I mention that fiber aids digestion?
Spicy Chickpea Veggie Burger – If you have a can of chickpeas tucked away in your pantry then its time to cut it open and get cooking! Chickpeas are another great base that will hold other veggies together to create a healthy meal.
10) Veggie Noodles
While most people love indulging in a plate full of pasta (myself included), it can leave you feeling guilty afterwards. After all, pasta is loaded with carbohydrates and gluten (which is a definite no-no for people with Celiac disease). What if I told you that you can make your favorite spaghetti dish guilt-free? This isn’t a joke. All you need is a spiralizer. It’s a tool that transforms just about any vegetable into noodles. One of the most popular veggies that people turn into noodles is zucchini. Check out this recipe for zucchini noodles with an avocado pesto sauce. It’s delicious, easy-to-make, and extremely healthy. Plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free so pretty much anyone can dig into the dish.
It’s also fun to put carrots and cucumbers through a spiralizer and add the “noodles” to salads.
11) Spaghetti Squash
This is another great spaghetti alternative. If you’ve never had it before then you may be wondering how squash can replace spaghetti noodles. Well, once this squash is cooked you can easily shred it with a fork to create spaghetti-like strands. Check out this video to see how easy it is:
You can also cook spaghetti squash in the microwave!
12) Zucchini Lasagna
Lasagna is an Italian dish that’s made by layering pasta, cheese, sauce, and meat. To make this dish a bit healthier you can simply replace the pasta layer with strips of zucchini. Check out this great paleo recipe!
13) Zucchini Boats
In case you haven’t noticed yet, there are a lot of different dishes you can make with zucchini and this next one is really fun. Cut a zucchini in half length-wise, scrape out the center, and fill it with other ingredients. If your diet allows for meat then fill it with ground turkey or ground beef. If you like pizza then fill it with some pizza sauce and cheese. You can even fill it with a fun vegetable mix. The possibilities are endless so get creative. Once you have stuffed your zucchini with your favorite ingredients then pop them in the oven. Here are a couple of recipes that you can either follow as they are written or use as a springboard.
Turkey Taco Zucchini Boats – If you love tacos then you will love this recipe! It features ground turkey that’s seasoned like taco meat.
Mexican Burrito Zucchini Boats – In this recipe, the zucchini is stuffed with a mixture of black beans, corn, peppers, and onion. If you eat dairy-free and prefer to ditch the cheese then just leave that ingredient out.
14) Replace the Bun
At your next barbecue, if you indulge in a burger then ditch the bread bun and use two pieces of lettuce instead. This is called “protein style.” You can also replace bread for lettuce when making lunch sandwiches. It’s a great way to lower the calorie-content of your meal along with loading up on more veggies.
15) Veggie Chips
Chips are such a fun snack, but who wants to eat all that grease? Plus, most chips are loaded with dangerous food additives. Instead of shopping for bags of potato chips, try making your own veggie chips. If you don’t have a dehydrator you can also use the oven. One of the best veggies to turn into chips is kale. Simply:
- Set the oven to 350°F
- Place kale leaves onto a baking sheet
- Drizzle with a little olive oil
- Season as you wish. Some popular seasonings are:
- Sea salt and vinegar
- Sea salt and garlic
- Bake until the edges are brown (about 10-15 minutes)
You can also turn your favorite fruits into chips!
16) Veggie Crackers
Toss out the Saltines and make your own veggie crackers. Most recipes are made with a dehydrator. If you don’t already have one then you may want to consider getting one. Trust me, it’s worth the investment. A dehydrator will open your cooking world to so many new dishes! Take this recipe for example. Cooked in a dehydrator, these gluten-free crackers are made with zucchini, nuts, and seeds. Yummy!
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