Updated: Mar 20, 2021
As a Nutritionist, many tend to assume that my daily meals consist of lots of leafy green salads, baked chicken breast, and sautéed kale. The truth is, my eating habits growing up were similar to many other 90's kids: lots of hot dogs, mac 'n cheese, and pop tarts. And even now, as a Nutritionist, if I could get away with it, I'd live off of these same foods for the rest of my life if I could get away with it!
Fortunately, as I moved into adulthood, I began taking an interest in nutrition and eventually became a Certified Nutritionist, but my taste buds and eating preferences didn't miraculously change. Yet, when you know better, you do better, which is why I was determined to slowly transition my eating habits into healthier ones that would support better health for myself and my family.
Surprising as it may be, I actually don't care much for lots of raw veggies, and my son isn't a fan of veggies at all. But knowing how crucial vegetables are for good health, I've had to get creative over the years and come up with ways that would ensure me and my family consume at least 3, ideally 5, servings of veggies a day. Below are 5 ways that I accomplish this.
As a busy mom, I don't have the time nor head space to follow every health trend that pops up on my Instagram feed. In fact, I seldom do. But green smoothies make a regular appearance in my house, thanks to the fact that I can pack so many nutrients into a small glass. No, I'm not referring to strawberry-banana smoothies, which make a wonderful occasional treat, but can be a sugary nightmare. I'm referring to smoothies packed with sweet, delicious fruit to offset the undertones of avocado, spinach, carrots, cucumber, and zucchini.
If you're like me, sitting down to a large salad of leafy greens and crunchy veggies may not appeal to you, or perhaps it doesn't every day. Instead of forcing myself to eat things I don't enjoy, I stick them in a high-speed blender, where they marry the flavors of nut milks, fresh juice, and/or frozen fruit, creating a delicious, drinkable smoothie.
Check out my extensive smoothie board on Pinterest (here) for loads of smoothie recipes and ideas.
I'm a firm believer of getting in as many nutrients as you can at breakfast time to start your day off right, similar to starting off your day with a bit of exercise. In addition to veggie omelets, egg muffins, and baked sweet potatoes topped with nut butter and fruit, I frequently bake breakfast casseroles filled with veggies like onion, bell pepper, shredded sweet potato, and spinach. Not only are they loaded with veggies, they typically serve as breakfast for several days!
Explore my extensive Pinterest board (here) for some of my go-to breakfast casserole recipes.
Soups and stews
Soups and stews are traditionally thought of as cold-weather dishes, but they're year-around dishes in my home. Don't fret if vegetable soup isn't your things -- the ways to marry protein-rich meats and nutrient-rich veggies in a soup or stew are endless! Lots of soups and stews contain 3 incredibly healthy veggies -- onion, garlic, and tomato -- and offer a perfect way to include even more plant foods, like spices, beans and legumes, and herbs.
Seldom do I prepare extravagant soups or stews that require dozens of ingredients and hours in the kitchen. Instead, I focus on veggie-packed soups and stews that the whole family enjoys, like taco soup, stuffed cabbage soup, and chili. Check out my Pinterest board (here) for over 100 simple, healthy soup and stew recipes!
For years, I was intimated by stir-fries and would only enjoy them when eating out. I finally watched a few videos and mustered up the nerve to make my own, and I can't believe I've been missing out for so long! Stir-fries have since become a regular meal in my home, and serves as the perfect way to use up the vegetables before they spoil.
Although I normally don't cater to each family member's food preferences, I prepare stir-fries in a small pan and thus can easily customize each of our stir-fries to include our favorite ingredients. I always keep a jar of homemade stir-fry sauce handy and whip up a mixed veggie stir-fry for my daughter, a chicken, mushroom, and cabbage stir-fry for my son, and a mixed veggie and chicken stir-fry over rice for myself.
Á la Sneaky Chef
I keep a container of diced onion and a jar of minced garlic in olive oil in the fridge, and tomato sauce and paste in the pantry, at all times. Sautéed onion and garlic are delicious additions to just about every meal, and both pack a powerful nutrient punch. When making tomato sauce, I add in grated zucchini and carrot, both of which can also be added to ground beef dishes like meat loaf and meatballs without changing the flavor. Among my favorite baked goods are those that contain zucchini, carrots, and sweet potatoes, like these Flourless Chocolate Banana Zucchini Muffins or these Avocado Sweet Potato Brownie Bites.