How to Increase Your Veggie Intake
Do you find it challenging to routinely fit vegetables into your diet? Most Americans do. The average American eats about 1.4 cups of vegetables per day; the recommended daily amount is 2.5 cups. How can you add that extra cup each day? Here are some tips from the experts.
START AT BREAKFAST
- “I add a half cup of shredded zucchini to my oats, along with chopped fruits, a touch of maple syrup, nuts, and spices.” – Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD Health’s contributing nutrition editor.
- “I love tossing leftover roasted veggies in egg scrambles. Just set aside a half cup of roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, or bell peppers to mix in your morning scrambled eggs. Double up the veggie goodness by topping with fresh salsa, too.” – Jamie Vesps, RD.
- “I often start my day with a brain-boosting smoothie that includes leafy greens. I use milder ones like baby spinach, romaine lettuce or chard. My go-to combination is almond milk, frozen wild blueberries, and baby spinach with a little fresh ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon.” – Maggie Moon, MS, RD, author of The MIND Diet: a Scientific Approach to Enhancing Brain Function and Helping Prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
- “I do a mix of rolled oats, frozen riced cauliflower, and frozen raspberries, topped with chopped walnuts and a dash of cinnamon. The cauliflower add a crunchy texture (along with chopped walnuts) and any flavor from the veggie is masked by the berries and cinnamon.”- Kelly Plowe, RD.
- “I go with toasted dark seedy rye bread or half a pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese, cucumber, tomato, tons of black pepper and a cup of black coffee.” – Julia Clancy, chef and writer.
- “If you wait until dinner to get your first serving of vegetables, it’s too late. Make room at lunch in soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps stuffed with veggies.” – Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, Author of The Plant Powered Diet.
- “One of my favorite ways to veggie-up is with fresh salsa. I put it in a breakfast bowl with eggs, sauteed kale, and breakfast potatoes. Plus, adding fresh salsa is a way to score important nutrients like lycopene and vitamin C.” – Shannon Garcia, MDS, RD, founder of the food blog KISS in the Kitchen.
- “Blend greens like spinach or kale into wet ingredients when you make pancakes, brownies, or muffins.” – Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
- “You don’t need to wait until there’s a party to have veggie tray. Have a veggie tray every day! Each week, I cut up veggies and store them in a clear container with tasty dip. I keep it in a visible (eye level), easily accessible place in the fridge. Then when a snack urge hits, you can open the fridge and it’s front and center and ready to nibble.” – Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Tired of the same veggies week after week? Shake it up with these six swaps – all recommended by Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Super Food Swap – to keep yourself engaged with a veg-forward routine.
If you like CARROTS, try PARSNIPS. Parsnips, another root vegetable, look like white carrots but have an earthy, nutty flavor. You can eat them raw in a veggie tray or roasted.
If you like BROCCOLI, try KOHLRABI. The texture is similar to a broccoli stem but sweeter; you can eat it raw, roasted, or sauteed.
If you like CUCUMBERS, seek out JICAMA. It’s crisp and watery, like cucumbers.
If you like ONIONS, try LEEKS. Both are members of the onion family, but leeks pack more nutrients.
If you like ROMAINE, try WATERCRESS. It’s a leafy green that’s both great in salads or on sandwiches – and has been ranked as one of the healthiest of all vegetables because it’s nutrient-dense and high in antioxidants.
If you like BUTTERNUT SQUASH, try DELICATA (when it’s in season). It tastes squashy, but the best part is no peeling-you can eat the skin!
“One other vegetable that warrants mentioning to try is BOK CHOY. Bok Choy is crisp and watery with a mild flavor. When working with children in summer school, I found they would absolutely love bok choy and eat it as if it were celery, but especially with low calorie ranch dressing. Try it you’ll like it.”- Michelle Hanson, MA, RDN, Dietitian Consultant for Fresh & Natural Foods.
There are many other ways to increase your veggie intake once you start experimenting with your meals and adding vegetables that are new. It may even be fun!
Author: Michelle Hanson
Michelle Hanson, MA, RD, LD is Fresh & Natural Food’s Registered Dietitian. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics with a minor in Community Health from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She is a registered dietitian and current member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Michelle has been a nutrition consultant for numerous years as well as a nutrition research director at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities.
Michelle is passionate about food and nutrition and believes in helping people find simple, realistic ways to make healthy eating a part of their everyday lifestyle.
If you are interested in meeting Michelle or have questions for her, you can email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She will look forward to meeting you!