It seems most of us developed an unhealthy relationship with vegetables at a very early age. No, it’s not mom’s fault for forcing us to eat squash, zucchini, or peas. Even before we’ve had our first taste of steak, birthday cake, or those yummy white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, most of us already developed an aversion to vegetables. If you don’t believe that, break out the mashed peas the next time your little nephew visits and get prepared to clean them off the walls. Even babies know that vegetables are not the food of choice.
However, according to all guidelines, adults need between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The easiest way to fit these in is to plan ahead and make sure you get a serving or two with each meal. If you skip the fruits and vegetables at breakfast and lunch, it’s going to make it difficult, if not impossible, to get the daily minimums.
The easiest way to get vegetables into your morning meal is in the form of an omelet. Omelets made with last nights leftover vegetables can be delicious, and can be made in just a few minutes since the vegetables are already cooked. Another option that requires a little planning ahead can be a breakfast quiche. Leftover vegetables are perfectly acceptable for use in a quiche, however it’s not something you want to try to prepare while rushing to get everybody ready in the morning.
A salad at lunch is a quick and easy way to add more vegetables to your diet. Additions of baked meats, boiled shrimp, cheeses, and eggs will make a salad seem more like a full meal if they normally leave you wanting more.
Carrot sticks, as well as raw broccoli or cauliflower, make for a good afternoon or mid-morning snack. Almost all grocery stores carry bags of pre-cut raw vegetables, so no excuses that it’s too time consuming to prepare. It’s quick, easy, fulfilling, healthy, and won’t leave you feeling stuffed and tired like many other grab-on-the-go snacks can.
Dinner is the meal for which most people think of preparing vegetables. Adding two or three steamed vegetables to your dinner meal can easily get you to your daily goal. Microwave steamers can be purchased inexpensively and steam even the hardest carrots to a nice texture in just five minutes. Since many steamers come with dividers, several different vegetables can be steamed at one time in one container.
It’s not just vegetables that most Americans have a hard time fitting into their diets. If you are falling short on your fruits, try fruit smoothies or a handful of berries added into yogurt or oatmeal at breakfast or snack time. Both ideas are a good way to add additional fruits to your diet. Frozen berries, peaches, and strawberries also make for a healthy, quick snack, especially on hot days when you need something to help cool off. It only takes a few minutes out of the freezer for them to thaw to an edible texture. Bananas rolled in peanut butter and chopped nuts and then frozen make a yummy summer treat that even picky kids will enjoy.
Adding these ideas into your meal planning will have you meeting your daily minimums in no time. No more excuses. Now, go eat your veggies!