How to Incorporate More Veggies into Your Daily Intake
The amount of number of vegetables you need each day can vary depending on your age, sex, height, and weight. However, 2-3 cups of vegetables per day can be a great start for most people. To find out exactly how many cups of veggies you should be getting per day, MyPlate offers a helpful widget to give you a personalized plan.
Since the number of American adults meeting vegetable intake recommendations is low, it can be daunting to think of ways to increase that intake – even for those of us that enjoy veggies! Here are a few fun and creative ways to sneak more vegetables into your daily diet:
Spice Up a Sauce
Are you planning on making a pasta dish for dinner? Grate up some fresh zucchinis or summer squash and throw them in there! These folate filled veggies don't distract from the delicious taste of tomato sauce while boosting the nutrient content and your veggie intake. This idea works for other sauce-based dishes, too! Add some riced cauliflower to mac and cheese or extra handfuls of spinach and kale into a pesto sauce.
Did you know? Tomatoes are better digested by the body when they’re cooked? This is called increased bioavailability and means your body has an easier time absorbing the nutrients!
While sneaking vegetables into a smoothie isn’t a new idea, the combinations you can include might be! Choose vegetables with neutral flavor profiles to blend into your smoothies, such as spinach, carrots, kale, or even pumpkin! Pair some of these veggies with your favorite fruits for a nutrient-packed smoothie.
Did you know? 2 cups of leafy greens count as 1 cup of vegetables.
A Baker’s Secret
A popular trend that took the internet by storm was zucchini bread, a delicious take on a classic banana bread-esque recipe that packs in some extra nutritional value. Each recipe may vary depending on what ingredients are included, but the overall goal should be to sneak in some grated zucchini for extra nutrients without sacrificing flavor!
While bread is a popular way to sneak in some veggies such as zucchini or sweet potato, it can also be a great way to get more whole grains! Baking with whole wheat flours is a great way to help you meet your grain recommendations.
Did you know? Another fun way to blend whole grains and hidden veggies is to mix some grated zucchini into freshly cooked oats! Top with some fresh fruit for a trifecta of nutrients.
Taco ‘Bout Delicious
Utilizing versatile dishes is a great way to include more vegetables into a meal. For example, taco filling made with some tried-and-true bell peppers, garlic, and onions can be jazzed up even more by dicing up some mushrooms or sweet potatoes for an added nutrient boost. Don’t forget to top off your dish with freshly chopped tomatoes, lettuce, and cilantro for the full effect!
Did you know? Garlic cooks up pretty quickly, so it’s recommended to be added into a sauté mixture after a few minutes to prevent it from tasting acrid – in other words, too bitter!
There are countless ways to add more vegetables to your daily intake – whether you want to sneak them in or just double up your portions! At the end of the day, there’s no wrong way to eat more nutrient filled vegetables that your body will be thankful for.
Written by: Tanisha Amaral, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern