Parents often worry about whether or not their children are eating enough fruits and vegetables, but it’s not often that we talk about whether the parents are eating enough too! Sure, the government puts out dietary guidelines, but they just tell you how many servings and don’t offer much advice on how to incorporate more veggies into your diet. We put together some tips on how you can go about getting your five or more per day. Plus our friend Laura Ashley Johnson, a registered dietician, has shared her recipe for Fresh Pico de Gallo that can be a flavor booster to any meal and help you get more of those veggies into your daily plan.
When it comes to eating healthy, what we eat is often more important than cutting out less nutritious foods. That’s not to say that we should all go out and just start eating our favorite comfort foods all the time, but when we start swapping nutrient dense foods into our daily meals, we often find that the less nourishing portions of our meals tend to get a lot smaller.
For decades nutritional scientists have been studying the connection between food and health, uncovering evidence that healthy diets can help people maintain good health and even reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Vegetables are one of the most important food groups because they are nutrient dense. Nutrient dense foods provide vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting benefits, plus they have no added sugars, saturated fats or sodium.
If you’re one of those people who is just never going to eat salads every day of the week, here are some helpful tips on how to get more veggies into your daily diet.
Make Vegetable Purées
Purées are not just for people without teeth. If you have a blender, making a flavorful purée out of our Sangria® Tomato Medley, Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes or Aurora Bites Mini Sweet Peppers is a delicious way of getting important phytonutrients into your meals. Lightly coat them in olive oil and season them with your favorite herbs, then roast them in the oven until they are bursting. Put them in your blender and pulse until they become a smooth sauce. You can drizzle it over your favorite protein, pasta, rice – you name it!
Experiment With Veggie Noodles
Veggie noodles are all the rage right now! From butternut squash to zucchini, you can find them already spiralized for you at almost any grocery store. Spiralizing veggies isn’t difficult to do at home on your own and can save you money. It will also allow you to think of other creative veggie noodle options! For example, did you know that you can spiralize cucumbers? They are an excellent low-carb option to replace pasta in a pasta salad, or to use as a salad base instead of lettuce, like our Long English Cucumbers in this Cucumber Tomato Salad. The key is to get creative. Veggie noodles can also be used as toppings to dishes to give them more flavor, unique texture and an extra boost of nutrition. This Cucumber Chickpea Mini Pizza recipe is an excellent example of how you can creatively add extra veggies to a snack
Just Add More
Straight up, just add more veggies into your recipes even if they don’t call for them. You can modify just about any recipe to incorporate more vegetables into them. Adding veggies into dishes like casseroles or pasta is an efficient way to increase your intake. They add texture and flavor all in one shot.
Veggie Loaded Flavor Boosters
A delicious way to add more flavor to a meal is with a good pico de gallo. Also known as salsa fresca, it is a low calorie topping for tacos, enchiladas, nachos, omelettes, soups, sandwiches – the list goes on and on! You can make it with cucumbers, or peppers, but our friend Laura Ashley sent us her Fresh Pico de Gallo recipe that is made with our Cloud 9® Bite-Sized Fruity Tomatoes. It’s easy to make by just combining all the ingredients in a bowl and then making seasoning adjustments to suit your tastes.
The Bottom Line
There are so many ways to add veggies to your everyday meals. By making vegetables a regular part of your daily eating habits, you’ll significantly increase your intake of essential nutrients and fiber. Veggies can be a lot more versatile than what we give them credit for, the key is to be creative and think outside the box.
For Laura Ashley’s full Fresh Pico de Gallo recipe, click here.
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