Friday, November 11, 2011

Eat more veggies! Tips to get your 5 a day.

Meatless Meal High in Vegetables
Eating my daily requirement of fruit and veggies is so important to me and fresh produce can be quite pricey out here in the high desert where growing food is next to impossible. That's why I was so excited to receive a coupon for a free package of Green Giant vegetables as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program. But utilizing frozen or canned vegetables are just one of my tips to getting your 5 servings a day...

Easy Tips and Tricks to Getting your 5 Servings of Vegetables a Day
Vegetables are a delicious way to boost your meals

  1. Swap out lettuce for spinach. Spinach has a lot more going for it in the nutritional department than lettuce does and it is a lot more versatile. It can be consumed raw, sauteed, steamed, and baked. It's high in protein, vitamin A, vitamin K, folic acid and fiber, just to name a few. You can use it anywhere you'd use lettuce (say on a sandwich). Also, add a few cups of spinach to your pasta sauce or smoothie, mix it into any casserole or add a layer of spinach to your lasagna. It has a mild taste that works with anything, it cooks down so you barely notice it and you still get all the nutritional benefits. Use baby spinach as a base for your side salad. Add some grated carrot, green beans, broccoli and red pepper, top with a low fat vinaigrette or cottage cheese and you have a nutritious salad bursting with veggies. 
  2. Replace regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are jam packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber and they help you loose weight by curbing your appetite and keeping your blood sugars level. Sweet potatoes are also full of antioxidants and have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. I never feel carb guilt after eating a sweet potato!
  3. Buy carrots. A ten pound bag costs 5 dollars and carrots keep well in your refrigerator. They are even more versatile than spinach, just as nutritious and you can bake with them too! I add grated carrots to all my pasta sauces, curries, stir fry, meatloaf, meatballs, salads and some of my cakes too
  4. Use canned or frozen vegetables when good quality budget friendly fresh produce is hard to find.  I add a can of diced organic tomatoes to just about everything. Depending on the time of year canned tomatoes can be cheaper to buy than fresh. You still get vitamin C and all those anti-carcinogens but remember to watch the sodium. Canned tomatoes can be high in sodium that's why I choose organic tomatoes canned in water. Frozen broccoli is another great way to go. I freeze fresh broccoli that's just about to spoil. Then I steam it for use in stir fry or blend it with garlic, lemon and oil to make broccoli pesto.
  5. Buy pre-washed ready to eat bags of veggies. These have really come down in price over the past few years. I buy a large box of pre-washed spinach along with pre-washed french green beans, bell peppers, broccoli and asparagus. I find that having bags of ready-to-eat veggies makes me more likely to snack on them or use them in my meals. Making a vegetarian pizza is easy when all I need to do is open a bag up and toss on some spinach, broccoli and bell pepper.
  6. Buy and enjoy what is seasonal. Those are the vegetables that will taste the best because they are at their peak. They will also be cheap because they will be plentiful. Squash is in season right now and is oh so delicious. Sub spaghetti squash for regular pasta, or make some fabulous stews and soups with acorn or butternut squash. 
  7. Double the veggies. This is a simple rule that can be used for almost every recipe (with the exception of baking). In any soup, curry, stew, casserole you can double or triple the veggies without affecting flavour. This is a trick I use often.
  8. Choose one day a week to go meatless. Cooking vegan or vegetarian makes you more aware of how delicious and filling vegetables can be. It will help your food budget and overall health too. Many people choose Mondays to go meatless.
Last night we had a meatless Thursday. I cooked my bag of Green Giant steamed vegetables and tossed the hot steamed veggies with 2 cups of spinach and a handful of green beans cut into thirds. I served that delicious warm salad with 2 slices of firm tofu that I sauteed with a pomegranate vinaigrette. Yum!

What are some of your tips and tricks to getting more vegetables into your diet?

The Makings of a Healthy Meal - Green Giant Steamers