91 percent of individuals living in the US do not meet the daily dietary recommendations for vegetable consumption (currently set at 2-3 cups, or 4-6 servings) and keep in mind, the recommended amount is simply the minimum for a body to function — not necessarily the amount needed for optimal health. Those who are malnourished, would need even more just to bring their numbers into the normal range.
Given that startling number, it is not surprising that most Americans suffer from nutrition-related illnesses, such as diabetes, hypertension, and even colds. When the body does not have the building blocks to keep a body working optimally, it simply cannot fight off inflammation, viruses, or bacteria the way it needs to. Scary right?
Luckily, not all hope is lost. The best source of nutrients come from mother earth. Vibrant, delicious vegetables offer many of the vital minerals and vitamins the body needs to run optimally. Loading your plate with produce will help get you on the right track. The more the better in most cases, and yes, it is easier said than done but with a little planning you’ll see those vegetables servings increase in no time.
Although salads seem to be the default when most people think of veggie-heavy dishes, that is not always the case. There are multiply ways to introduce vegetables into daily meals.
Ready to start incorporating more veggies into the day? Here are four ways to do it:
- Smooth it. Veggies belong in a smoothie. I personally prefer to use frozen vegetables as it helps to make the consistency thick and creamy. Spinach is probably the most popular choice, but cauliflower, zucchini, or carrots work well. Think mild or sweet when picking smoothie veggies and you won’t go wrong. Next thing you know it you’ll have 1-2 servings of vegetables in your glass.
- Snack on veggies. Swapping out your usual snacks for crudité any day of the week in one way to include more veggies. However, vegetables are very versatile. Obviously, they can be eaten raw, but you can also prepare them in a variety of ways. Whether you roast them into chips (kale, beets, carrots all make crunchy chips), marinate them (mushrooms and cucumbers are amazing), or stir into dips (add a serving of tomatoes, spinach, or onions to guac or ranch-style dips), a couple servings of vegetables can make their way into your snacking habit on the regular.
- Sub it for starch. Not necessarily news by now, but produce can be used in place of rice, noodles, or even potatoes. If you haven’t tried it yet don’t turn your nose up subbing out your starch with vegetables. Cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, and carrots can be riced, spiralized, or mashed. The vegetables do a great job of absorbing sauces just as well as their traditional counterparts, and if cooked properly the vegetables won’t get mushy like cold noodles or rice can.
- Heat it up. Stir-fry, sauté whatever you want to call it. Just throw your veg into a hot pan with some fat and you are good to go. All you need to round out your meal is some protein and a sauce or spices, and dinner is ready to go.