Every nutritionist on the planet recommends eating more veggies. Only 27% of Americans eat the minimum recommended three servings daily and filling the gap will help you get more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, as well as slash the risk of nearly every major disease. Filling up on veggies can also help you naturally cut back on calorie dense foods, like pasta, rice or meat.
One cup of veggies provides about 25 calories compared to 200 in a cup of cooked pasta and trading 3 ounces of 90% lean ground turkey for a half cup of chopped Portabella mushroom once a week, without making any other changes, would save you 7,280 calories a year.
Some veggies taste great as is - in the summer I pop grape tomatoes like tic tacs. But others may need a little help to make you say, “Mmmmmm.” Here are three tips for making them more appealing without adding a ton of extra calories:
After you microwave or steam fresh or frozen veggies, toss them with pesto, tapanade or all natural fruit butter - 1 level Tbsp per cup cooked veggies is all you need. Some of my favorite combos include:
- Broccoli with sundried tomato pesto
- French cut green beans with black olive tapenade
- Yellow wax beans with artichoke pesto
- Spaghetti squash with apple butter or pumpkin butter
- Spinach with roasted red pepper pesto
Put your oven to work before grill season officially starts. Drizzle veggies with a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar or another flavored variety (like fig or black currant), mist with extra virgin olive oil (using an oil mister), sprinkle with herbs like thyme, rosemary and cracked black pepper and roast at 475 degrees until tender – some veggies take as little as 10 minutes. Veggies that taste great roasted include carrots, peppers, onions, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, mushrooms asparagus and cauliflower.
Saute fresh or frozen veggies with a simple sauce made from 2-3 Tbsp vinegar (white, rice or apple cider), 1 Tbsp chopped scallions, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp fresh grated ginger. Add a dash of crushed red pepper if you like a little kick. This concoction works well with a frozen Asian medley or a mixture of fresh cabbage, broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms and asparagus.
Do you struggle with eating 3 cups of veggies a day? If so do you think sprucing them up help? If you try any of these tips or have some of your own please share your thoughts!