By Cynthia DeWitte
You may be wondering how on earth you are going to get all these vegetables and fruit into your daily eating habits. No worries – I’ve got you covered. One of the best ways to begin adding more vegetables is to think of them as building blocks to luscious, flavorful, amazing meals. For one thing, herbs are vegetables and should be used liberally to add layers of flavor to each meal. Each of those flavors is made through phytonutrients that add lots of nutrition to your meals. There are countless ways to include herbs in your meals to enhance the flavor and make them wonderful creations that the whole family will love. A meal without herbs is usually fairly bland and uninteresting. Find ways to use herbs in your meals to increase nutrition along with making them taste fabulous. Use them freely. Experiment with them. Enjoy them!
It may take a while to get used to eating a generous amount of vegetables and fruit if you aren’t already doing so. Some people may experience difficulty as their system begins to clean out and detoxify. You may want to start out slow and add an extra cup of vegetables to your daily intake each week until you are up to a full allotment. On the other hand, you may want to jump in with both feet and power through any digestive issues that may occur for the first two weeks or so.
Vegetables can be served in medleys to make them more interesting. For example, why serve sautéed zucchini alone when it tastes great with onion, garlic and tomatoes. There are so many ways to serve vegetables that enhance the flavors and turn a simple meal into a gourmet meal with more thought than work going into the process. Take time to consider how to build flavor and color into a meal. Vegetables are a healthy and beautiful way to do this.
Fruits are the easiest to incorporate as snacks or dessert. The trick is learning to snack on vegetables as well and to add vegetables to practically everything! The idea is to get enough vegetables in our diet from the three main categories while not eating the same ones exclusively, so be sure to eat a variety.
Vegetables don’t always need to be cooked. In fact the bulk of your vegetables will probably be raw either in smoothies, on your plate with something else or as snacks. Almost everything can be served with vegetables. Start by washing, chopping and storing vegetables in the refrigerator, so you can readily pull them out and add them to a meal. You don’t need to do this with all of your vegetables, but I find when I do a bunch at a time and they are ready to pull out and eat, they are more likely to be added to plates or picked as snacks. Once you have them ready, you can skip the fries; add raw carrots or broccoli instead. Add them to a plate with lunch. They add crunch, flavor and interest along with abundant nutrients.
Put a bowl of prewashed fruits and vegetables out on the counter or even in the living room; wherever people walk through. Put different fruits and vegetables out daily. For cut fruits, put in a glass dish with a lid. A casserole dish works great. It keeps the bugs and dust off of cut fruits like pineapple, watermelon, berries, etc., but is still easy to see. When people see bright colored vegetables and fruits, they are likely to stop and munch on them. Even our guests stop and eat from the bowl on the counter. It is difficult to resist a bowl of fresh, colorful fruit or vegetables within easy reach. If your family is eating handfuls of vegetables and fruits, encourage that. You want to see it disappearing and contributing to the health of your loved ones. It is a quick snack that requires no work or time for the passerby to prepare, which is the main attraction of junk food. Replacing the junk with healthy food will take a little more time on your part, but it is well worth the effort for your health and the health of your family.
In the winter, soups are a wonderful way to serve vegetables. Make a broth with bones and vegetables. Remove the bone and use a blender to puree the vegetables into a thick flavorful broth. Cut up and add another batch of chunky vegetables to the soup. The vegetables content has been greatly increased, but in the form of broth. This works great.
Cook and serve vegetables with meat. Swiss Steak with onions and mushrooms, should be served with another vegetable dish. When cooking a meat or fish, make a sauce using vegetables, capers or fruit.
Load up the vegetables. Besides adding them to the meat and grain or potatoes, serve more than one vegetable dish per meal. If you are making steamed carrots with herbs and butter, you can still do a green salad as well.
Leafy greens can be used to make wraps in place of sandwiches. Skip the bread and use lettuce instead. Cabbage can be used in a similar way by replacing pasta with cabbage in lasagna and other dishes. Some people actually use spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti and skip the pasta altogether.
One way to start your day out with an energy blast is to have a green smoothie. A green smoothie is mostly vegetables, but may include some fruit. There are some smoothie recipes listed on this site. More will continue to be published. I will be publishing an article specifically on smoothies for those who would like to learn how to get started on them. I highly recommend a green smoothie per day, as you can easily cover at least half of your fruits and vegetables in one simple meal, plus most people experience more energy from drinking green smoothies than they do from drinking coffee. I know I do.
There are endless ways to add more vegetables while making your meals into something to delight the eyes and the palate. Get creative and enjoy your health!
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