How many servings of vegetables should we all be eating each day? Answer: 4-5 servings, and another 4-5 servings of fruit. Keeping in mind that one serving is roughly equal to 1/2 of a cup, you might think that is a heck of a lot of food! And it is if you’re adding that to your current diet. So try to think along the lines of substitutions…
Whether you cook or buy your meals already made, you should first think about how many vegetables you need to squeeze in that meal, and then think about protein sources and lastly, grains (breads, rice, pasta, etc). This way, you’ll be sure to get the most important components into your meal.
How you can eat vegetables at each meal:
- If you like eggs, add some spinach, onions, broccoli, bell peppers, or tomatoes to an omlette or egg sandwich.
- On a piece of toast, add some leftover vegetables, sprinkle with cheese, and melt
- If you’re a cereal person, it can be hard to mix vegetables in for breakfast–so try fruit! Lots of fresh fruit and nuts
- Eating a sandwich? Add left over vegetables from last night–raw/cooked greens, tomatoes, grilled vegetables
- Make or heat up a soup which you, of course, added lots of vegetables to
- Have a salad–choose dark lettuces such as green or red leaf, spinach, arugula, or romaine and top with tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, peppers, parsley, onions, celery, you name it!
- Make a cold bulgur or quinoa salad and mix in any vegetables you have–raw or cooked
- Raw vegetables: Carrots, fennel!, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, summer squash, broccoli/cauliflower, celery
- Dip your vegetables into a yogurt sauce, humus, or salsa
- Salad: Chopped up raw vegetables mixed with some oil and vinegar
- Top crackers with a roasted vegetable dip
Dinner (Cook loads of vegetables for dinner, so you can use them the next day in a meal)
- Make a soup: begin with a broth, and add a variety of fresh or frozen vegetables–almost anything works!
- Make a stew or curry: you can sneak vegetables in here, and the sauce/flavorings will blend the vegetables in well (I use this on picky eaters)
- Have a salad! I like to start my dinner off with a small salad. This way, we are hungry enough to get in at least one or two servings of vegetables! (1 serving of raw lettuce/greens is about 1 cup)
- Make vegetables the main part of dinner. Fill 1/2 of your plate with vegetables (not including potatoes/corn/other very starchy vegetables), 1/4 of your plate with your protein source, and the other 1/2 with grains, or starchyness.
When cooking vegetables, try not to boil the heck out of them. This will help the water leach out nutrients that your body needs. Try steaming, sauteing with some olive oil, roasting, or grilling. A little crunch is always a good sign in a cooked vegetable. No one wants soggy vegetables!
Not a huge fan of certain vegetables? Try adding spices such as cumin, garlic, coriander, nutmeg, mustard, etc to distract your taste buds.
Why Do All Of This?: By substituting vegetables for less nutritious parts of your meal, you are more likely to lose weight, avoid colds/sickness more, have more energy, and possibly: lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Book an appointment here! Marina Bedrossian, RDN, CDN, CLT is a family holistic dietitian who specializes in nutrition for digestive issues, nutrition for Autism, ADHD, and nutrition for food sensitivities.