Easy tips to add more color, nutrition, and flavor to your diet
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Only 27 percent of American adults eat the recommended three or more servings of vegetables daily, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The reason? Let’s be honest, veggies are pretty boring. But with a little creativity and these tricks, you’ll discover how good produce can taste and be well on your way to your three-a-day.
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Kick-start your day by adding veggies to an omelet or scrambled eggs. “Spinach, peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and kale work very well mixed in with protein-packed eggs,” says Marc Perry, founder of BuiltLean Fitness in New York City.
Host a Roast
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Satisfy that sugar itch with something healthy: Some veggies can taste just as sweet as candy because baking them brings out the natural sugars. Perry recommends root veggies, such as sweet potatoes, cooked carrots and beets.
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Have you heard of kohlrabi? How about sea beans? There are many less-common yet readily available produce that go far beyond the basic tomatoes and onions. “Try one new vegetable per month,” advises Perry. “Test different recipes with that particular veggie until you find at least one dish you really like.”
Look at Food Porn
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Make your life easier by setting aside one hour a week to chop up two cookie sheets’ worth of onions, peppers, zucchini, and sweet potatoes, cut to uniform size. Put them in the oven for 45 minutes at 500 degrees and you have enough cooked vegetables for a week that can be added as a side with any meal, Perry says. The mix will store in your fridge for about three to four days in tightly sealed plastic containers.
Go Italian, with a Twist
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Cut your carb intake in half by making “pasta” from long strips of squash and carrot. Experiment with different sauces such as pesto, garlic olive oil, or white bean sauce.
Flip for Them
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Pancakes aren’t all sweet and syrup. “Mix pancake batter—buckwheat is a great choice, some cooked crumbled chicken sausage, a little grated gouda, and a good dose of finely chopped veggies for a vitamin-packed flapjack that’s great for any meal of the day,” Perry says.
Try, Try Again
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Hate carrots when you were a kid? Our taste buds change as we age, so you may like them now. Or it could have just been the way they were prepared: “They may have been overcooked or covered with spices you don’t like, causing you to unfairly swear it off forever,” Perry says. So c’mon, search for a recipe that sound good, and give those Brussel sprouts one more try.
Mix Up Meatballs
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Moms like Jessica Seinfeld have been advocating this method as a way to get your kids to eat more produce, but adults can try this trick, too. “Grate veggies such as carrots, squash, and cucumber into hamburger patties, meatballs, or meatloaf for picky eaters who don’t like the texture of a vegetable but want to reap all its nutritional benefits,” Perry says.
Play with Fire
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The grill seems to make anything taste better—even salads. “Corn, carrots, cauliflower, and beets are great choices for grilling,” Perry says. “Just spray with a little cooking oil and sprinkle on some salt, pepper, Old Bay, or seasoning of your choice first.” Use a grill pan in cooler months to enjoy these charred goodies year-round.
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Move veggies from the side dish to the center of your plate by incorporating them into the entrée whenever possible. “Try serving chicken ‘cordon-blue’ stuffed with asparagus, spinach, or peas instead of calorie-dense ham and cheese, and other colorful casseroles that cook the veggies right into the main course,” Perry suggests.
Make It a Double
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Any time a recipe calls for a vegetable, double the amount. It likely won’t change the flavor, just the health benefits. Chili, marinara, pizza, soup—it works in anything!
Power Up Pesto
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Add spinach to basil, garlic, and olive oil, and blend for a sandwich condiment that’s insanely better than mayo.
Just Add Bacon
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Butter and salt aren’t the only ways to flavor leafy veggies. “Try boiling collard greens or turnip greens with a piece of cooked bacon in the pot. The greens soak in the flavor without adding loads of extra calories,” says Perry.
Get Extra Help
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Dietary supplements or so-called ‘green vitamins’ can never replace eating veggies, but they don’t hurt if you’re struggling. “Try looking for one that has several vegetables condensed into one serving,” Perry says.
Take the Old Chip Off the Block
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They’re not a one-for-one substitute for fried potatoes, but kale chips are worthy of their buzz. Experiment with different seasonings, such as salt and vinegar, garlic and red pepper, and chili and lime, and you’ll never go back to the greasy taters.