By Cammie Jones
I am always looking for ways to get my family to eat more vegetables. We tend to get in a rut of just eating the same veggies over and over. It would be great to mix it up a little and make eating vegetables more interesting. Here are several ways to add more vegetables to your daily meals.
1. Join a CSA.
This is a great way to eat a variety of vegetables. Your basket or box includes many different seasonal vegetables that your family can enjoy. Check out a local health food store to find out more about when memberships are available, the cost and other details. I’ve seen baskets that you can pick up or are delivered on a weekly or monthly basis. Then, get creative with how you prepare these unusual vegetables.
2. Fill Half Your Plate with Fruit and Veggies.
One rule of thumb is when you fix your dinner plate, make sure half of your plate is made up of vegetables and fruits. This can be fun for your children. Challenge them to see if they can do this at every meal. This is a great time to try new, colorful vegetables to make a “pretty” plate.
3. Get Out the Blender.
Making a smoothie is a great way to hide vegetables for kids and adults alike. Mix in both spinach or kale and a bunch of fruit such as banana, strawberries or blueberries and you won’t even know that the green stuff is in there. I mix my smoothies with either almond milk or vanilla yogurt and a scoop of protein powder for a great snack or meal on the go.
4. Serve Vegetables as Snacks.
A good way to eat more vegetables on a daily basis is to have them ready-to-go as snacks. Purchase baby carrots in a bag and have some homemade ranch dip on hand. Or, cut up fresh celery to dip in peanut butter. A cut up apple and individual peanut butter pods are also a great snack. These snacks can be packed in lunchboxes for both children and adults.
5. Stock up & Plan Ahead.
Get rid of the convenience packs of chips and replace them with fresh vegetables and fruits. Today, you can even get convenience packs of cut up fruits and veggies at your local grocery store. They are usually a little more expensive than if you cut them up yourself, but sometimes convenience outweighs cost.
Another good idea is to plan ahead by taking a day to prepare vegetables for the coming week. You can chop, roast and freeze many vegetables to pull out of the freezer to accompany any weeknight meal. Also, don’t dismiss frozen vegetables—they are also packed with nutrients and have a longer freshness life.
6. Make Eating Vegetables a Challenge.
Each day, set a goal of how many servings of vegetables you can consume. Keep a tally and at the end of the day, take a look and see how you did. Making a conscious effort to eat healthfully will make you accountable for it. Get your kids involved, too. Have a small surprise at the end of the day for the child who met their goal of eating both fruits and vegetables that day. It could be anything from a dollar to a small toy from a dollar store.
7. Make Vegetables & Fruits Visible.
Don’t put that head of broccoli or cauliflower in the crisper. Cut them up into snack-size pieces and store them in a clear, plastic container or bowl at eye level in the fridge. Same with fruit—have apples and Cuties sitting in a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter for quick snacking. Make sure grapes are washed and in a plastic bag in the fridge so kids or adults can just grab a handful when they get hungry.
8. When All Else Fails, Hide ‘Em!
You can be sneaky here. When you are making your children’s breakfast in the morning, add tomatoes or spinach to their eggs. When you make a turkey sandwich, replace some meat with lettuce, tomatoes or an avocado slice. Pureed vegetables can be added to pasta sauces without a change in the overall taste. Soups are a great way to include vegetables without children (and sometimes even adults) noticing.
Once you get in the habit of eating more vegetables you will see that not only do you feel better after eating them, you also have made it part of your daily grind. We are all creatures of habit and tend to slide into complacency at times, so this is a great way to snap out of it—for your health and your family’s well-being, too!
Cammie Jones is an Augusta freelance writer and mother of three.
This article appears in the December – January 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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