Vegetables—we all know that we have to eat them. But for those who really don’t like them, it can be really difficult to get in your daily servings. To help make sure that you hit your veggie intake, while still looking forward to meal times, Certified Clinical Nutritionist and Pharmacist Aaron Slotkin shares some of his best tips on how to eat more vegetables, even if you hate them.
Why are vegetables so important?
We’ve all heard it before, “eat your greens because they’re good for you” (thanks, mom!). But how exactly are they good for us? Slotkin explains, “Vegetables are excellent sources of various vitamins and nutrients that the body needs. [Some] examples are carotenoids and folates.” But, that’s not all that they’re important for. He also highlights how vegetables are a rich source of fiber, which is extremely important for gut health and the gastrointestinal tract. It promotes the growth of good gut bacteria in our bodies.
How to sneak vegetables into your diet
If you’ve tried your hardest to eat more vegetables, but just can’t seem to do it, here are some great ways to get more veggies in.
One effective method for people who don’t like vegetables is to try hiding them in your everyday foods. One of the best ways is to add them to smoothies. While you may think that adding a handful of spinach or kale to a smoothie is gross, the great thing is that you shouldn’t be able to taste it. When you mix it in with the milk of your choice, fruit, chia or flax seeds, and maybe even some protein powder, the taste of the vegetables is masked. Slotkin’s favorite smoothie consists of strawberries, a banana, avocado, and dark, leafy greens.
Another innovative way to eat more vegetables is to incorporate them into your dessert! Yes, you can satisfy that sweet tooth while still getting in your daily veggie intake. You’ve heard of carrot cake, so why not try adding carrots into cupcakes or muffins? You can also try including zucchini in cakes, and sweet potatoes in brownies. You never know, you might find your new favorite dessert!
Try different ways of cooking them.
Do you always steam your vegetables and hate the result? Instead, try roasting them in the oven for a different texture and flavor. Experimenting with various cooking methods means that you might find yourself enjoying them in a different way. “For me,” says Slotkin, “when roasted…veggies, such as brussels sprouts with some oil on top, taste ten [times] better. Other examples are peppers, onions, [and] zucchini.”
Ever heard of cauliflower pizza? Instead of having a classic cheese pizza delivered, try making your own cauliflower pizza crust. It tastes just like pizza, but is so much better for you! Not a pizza fan? Mix cauliflower rice (which is finely chopped cauliflower pieces) in with normal rice at your next meal to eat more vegetables in your diet!
The possibilities are endless. You can cook them up in a mean vegetable stir-fry, grill them on the barbeque, or boil them in a nice, hearty soup.
Spice things up.
Salt and pepper are staples in every kitchen, but there are so many herbs, seasonings, and spice varieties that can really change flavors. Some versatile standouts are rosemary, thyme, paprika, chili powder, curry powder, and garlic powder (or garlic salt).
Try this: season sweet potato fries with garlic powder and rosemary, and then roast in the oven for a delicious snack.
Supplements, such as green powder, are another alternative for those who want to include more vegetables in their diet. You can add green powder to your smoothies, protein shakes, juices, or even oats. However, they should be used in conjunction with a nutritious diet. While “they can provide ample amounts of phytonutrients,” Slotkin says, “[they’re not a] perfect replacement, because they are lacking all of the beneficial fibers that are good for your gut.”
So, while supplements are good for a boost, try to get most of your vegetable intake from actual vegetables.
What if I really don’t like vegetables?
If you really can’t get past the taste of certain vegetables then focus on the vegetables that give you more bang for the buck. “If you have to choose, I feel [that] leafy greens are some of the most important veggies to eat because of all the folates [that] they contain,” says Slotkin. “Aim to eat one leafy green salad or green smoothie per day. Just this simple addition can make a big impact on your health, energy level, and even your weight.
“Research is showing that having a robust and diverse microbiome is key to maintaining good health and staying disease free. Therefore, a diverse diet is important in order to stay healthy. People often eat the same thing all the time, because of convenience. However, it is important to branch out and eat a variety of plant-based proteins and fibers. Not just veggies, but fruits, nuts and seeds, and grains, as well,” Slotkin explains.