Don’t Forget Your Vegetables!
We hear it all the time. Eat more vegetables. Add more greens. Make your plate colorful. The fact that vegetables are good for us, is not a new message. Yet we have such a hard time fitting them in our diet?
Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, plus they are loaded with good-for-you nutrients such as vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. Vitamin C is imperative to keeping our immune systems healthy and potassium regulates blood pressure – very important things! Most adults need 2 ½ – 3 cups of vegetables per day. Let’s look beyond the side salad and bump up your intake today.
- Make snack sized portions: chop up bell peppers, broccoli or celery ahead of time and put into individual containers. Add a side of hummus or Greek yogurt dip for different twist.
- Shop sales: When frozen or canned vegetables go on sale, stock up! These are great to add to a stir fry or soup. Rinsing canned veggies can decrease the sodium while keeping the convenience.
- Roast in big batches: A household favorite is to roast diced vegetables on the weekend and enjoy during the week as a side dish. Sweet potatoes are especially great this way -one sweet potato provides over 100% of your daily vitamin A needs, which keeps eyes healthy.
- Blend them: Add handfuls of spinach or kale to your favorite fruit smoothie. The beautiful green color delivers a boost of antioxidants and you won’t taste any difference.
- Don’t forget the beans: Beans are cost effective, nutrient dense and easy to prepare. Add them to anything: salads, tacos, soups, eggs or mash them on top of a piece of toast. ½ cup of black beans are an excellent source of fiber which helps achieve weight and cholesterol goals.
Vegetables are easily left out because we can only eat so many plain, raw vegetables. I encourage clients to change how they prepare or season them. This adds some excitement to the plain vegetable try they were doing before. Finding ways to incorporate vegetables into dishes you already know and love, will make the adjustment easier.
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.