March is National Nutrition Month. This year's theme from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is "Put Your Best Fork Forward."
One way to put your best fork forward: Eat your veggies! They're full of vitamins C and A, minerals like potassium and magnesium, and high in fiber. Vegetables are a filling, nutritious way to nourish our bodies and control weight.
Okay, I can picture the eyes rolling. We all know we should be eating more vegetables, but many of us struggle to do it. A perceived lack of time to prepare vegetables, not knowing how to cook them, and just not being in the habit of eating them are all things that get in the way of hopping on the veggie bandwagon.
So what to do?
5 Tips for Getting More Veggies
- Start smart. Start your meal with a low-sodium, vegetable-packed broth based soup or a salad with a small amount of dressing. Studies show that if you start with vegetables in one form or another, you will eat fewer calories in your meal. Quick tip: pick up pre-made salads or low sodium vegetable soups (add extra frozen veggies while heating to minimize prep time).
- Eat the rainbow. The different pigments that give fruits and vegetables their color also have different bioactive properties. The blue and purple pigment, called anthocyanins, help keep your blood vessels healthy. Lycopene, the red pigment found in foods like tomatoes and bell peppers, has been shown to help prevent certain types of cancer and promote cardiovascular health. Get more recipes and information.
- Plan ahead. Be sure to shop weekly for produce. Use a crockpot to make a big batch of vegetable soup and freeze half of it for weeks ahead when you have less time to cook. Roast a head of cauliflower, a batch of asparagus, or beets on the weekend and add them to your meals during the week as sides, in salads and in soups.
- Buy pre-cut, pre-washed or frozen vegetables. Buy a veggie tray and snack on vegetables with hummus or a yogurt-based dressing. Whip up a stir-fry with frozen veggies or the pre-cut stir-fry mixes that many stores now offer.
- Get creative. Add vegetables to egg scrambles, smoothies, pizza, pasta, etc. or puree them to use as a base for soup. When a recipe calls for vegetables, add more of them and less of the other ingredients to make a filling, lower-calorie meal. Try a new vegetable recipe every month and keep a running list of recipes that you and your family like. These will be great for occasions when you are pressed for time or feel stumped.
3 Veggie-Packed Recipes
- For an easy side dish try, roasted vegetables.
- For a veggie-inspired appetizer try, vegan artichoke dip. Serve with raw veggies or whole grain crackers.
- For a soup you can make ahead try, crockpot cabbage soup. To reduce sodium, use no salt added canned products and low-sodium broth instead of the soup mix.
Schedule a Nutrition Consult
Finally, if you are still having a hard time, make an appointment with a Polyclinic dietitian. Please call 206-860-2208 for more information about scheduling options.