You’ve probably heard that Americans aren’t eating as many fruits and vegetables as they should be. Most people don’t have the time to cook a meal at home, let alone make a conscious decision to eat healthy. They wind up eating frozen food, fast food, or pseudo-healthy food. Many fast food places masquerade as “healthy food” but their ingredients are anything but fresh and healthy.
Living naturally includes avoiding man-made chemicals and preservatives that regularly appear in frozen and fast food. While one or two meals may not do much to harm you, if you make a lifestyle out of eating pre-processed food, you’re not getting the nutrients that your body needs to keep it in top shape.
Worse yet, if you regularly eat fast/frozen food you could be inviting a whole host of medical conditions and/or diseases into your life later down the road. High blood sugar, high sodium, and high cholesterol levels are all found in fast/frozen foods. Over time they break down your body’s natural defenses and create the right conditions for all sorts of medical issues.
If eating fruits and vegetables daily just isn’t your thing that’s ok. There are ways to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of micronutrients and vitamins without having to eat like a rabbit. Here are 10 ways you can include more fruits and vegetables in your daily diet:
Eating a healthy breakfast will help start your day off right. Even if you only have a few minutes between the time your alarm clock goes off and the time you get into your car to go to work, you can easily eat a healthy breakfast.
Berries, dried fruit, or banana slices can be put into a small can of yogurt or oatmeal. Yogurt requires no prep time and making oatmeal is as simple as adding 1 cup of water to a bowl, putting the oatmeal inside and nuking it in the microwave for a few minutes.
Add More Veggies
Recipes for salads, pasta, casseroles, and soups all call for a certain amount of vegetables to be added into the mix. Simply double the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for. It won’t take any extra prep time and the additional cost of adding a broccoli sprout or two is negligible.
If you have an aversion to how most vegetables taste, try stirring veggies into a home-made soup. The broth flavor will usually wind up covering up most of the taste. By doing so you’ll not only enhance the nutritional value, but the flavor as well. If you’re trying to live a more natural lifestyle, then adding a second serving of veggies into the mix will make all the difference.
Be a Ninja Chef
Shredding or grating fruits and vegetables and then adding them to your favorite recipe can add extra nutritional value without the overwhelming veggie taste. For example, if you’re making turkey burgers or meatloaf, add a cup of veggies to the raw meat and watch how they bring out the flavor. Being a sneaky chef works especially well if you’re a mom and your child has a particularly strong aversion to vegetables.
Make every Monday a meatless Monday. You’ll find that instead of waking up feeling bloated on Tuesday morning, you’ll have an extra burst of energy to carry you on through to the middle of the week. There are hundreds of recipes online for Quinoa that will fill you up just as much as a piece of meat would. Add a cup of diced veggies and you’ll not only have a nutritious meal, but one that won’t cost anywhere near as much as it would had you made a meat dish.
Lettuce as Bread
If you eat sandwiches on a regular basis, try substituting lettuce leaves in place of bread. Lettuce is almost calorie-free and will remove the bloated feeling you sometimes get after eating a sandwich made from bread. For added taste, use the lettuce leaves to wrap pre-cooked chicken or dolphin-safe tuna – hold the mayo.
When you add spinach to soups, casseroles, and stews, you’re not only increased the nutritional content, but adding volume to the dish. It makes you feel like you’re eating a much bigger meal than you are – with the added benefit of almost no additional calories.
Edamame are green soybeans and packed full of nutrition, protein, and fiber. You can most likely find them in the frozen section of the supermarket. Pop them in the oven for a minute or two and you have a healthy meal that tastes delicious. Be sure to buy the unsalted ones – the sodium count on salted edamame can be very high. They also go great in soups, stir-fries, or salads.
This one will require you to buy a kitchen device called a “spiralizer.” You can find them in any home goods store or online for around $15. You make the veggie noodles by inserting vegetables into the device and it will mechanically process them into noodle-like shapes.
The best part about a spiralizer is that it can be used to process virtually any type of vegetable. The most common ones used are sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini. Once you have made enough noodles (5 minutes worth of work), substitute them for pasta and watch how many carbs you’re able to cut from your diet.
The Bottom Line
By simply getting creative, you can easily get your recommended daily allowance of veggies added to your diet. The added nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants will help you both live a natural lifestyle and feel better in just a few short weeks. It can also help prevent a whole host of medical conditions that people suffer from because of a lifestyle of eating fast or frozen food.