Vegetables. Love em? Hate em? Somewhere in between? No matter what camp you’re in, you know eating your vegetables is good for your health. But sometimes, it can be hard to get the recommended servings of vegetables every day. Here are a few tips on how to eat more vegetables.
12 Ways to Eat More Vegetables
1. Eat your breakfast vegetables
I know what you might be thinking, “What?! Breakfast vegetables?” Yes. I really do mean breakfast vegetables. Anything from beet smoothies to savory oatmeal with wilted arugula and breakfast quesadillas to shakshuka with greens can help you get one or two extra servings into your day.
2. Buy a blender or food processor
Vegetables don’t always have to be eaten whole. Many don’t even need to be cooked! Using a high speed blender (<-affiliate) or food processor (<-affiliate) can allow you to use vegetables in unexpected dishes such as dips and sauces. Try this beet yogurt dip or a roasted red pepper hummus, or green spinach hummus. This arugula pesto is delicious on pasta and this sweet potato enchilada sauce is so easy. Blended soups like this carrot ginger soup or this creamy roasted cauliflower soup make it easy to get vegetables at lunch or dinner. I have a Vitamix (<-affiliate) that I use at least once a week for super smooth, creamy dishes.
3. Eat the rainbow
We eat with our eyes first (hello, Instagram) so visually appealing food is of utmost priority. Especially when it comes to vegetables. Dishes that provide color and contrast are inviting and appetizing, making it easier to eat more vegetables. This saucy panang curry noodle bowl are this roasted acorn squash kale salad are two ways you can eat multiple colors in one dish. It’s no longer holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t savor these winter harvest endive cups with ruby red pomegranate seeds. Or this turmeric roasted cauliflower salad. They’re all much more appealing than say, a parsnip soup (though not necessarily more delicious).
4. Swap your sides for a salad
Whether you’re eating out or making dinner at home, you can always swap your sides for a salad. Maybe it’s a green salad, or maybe it’s another salad that has a few more vegetables that mashed potatoes, rolls, mac and cheese, or fries. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with these sides. But if you’re hoping to eat more vegetables from day to day, here’s a place to start. A spinach farro salad or arugula pear salad can be paired with a simple soup. This green bean potato salad can be served warm or cold depending on the season. And a composed roasted vegetable salad goes nicely with sandwiches or pasta.
5. Get your snack vegetables
Vegetables make a great snack between meals alongside those nuts, dried fruit, granola bars and crackers. Because let’s be honest, we big kids need snacktime too. Snack time is the perfect time to eat more vegetables. I mean, why not? It’s easy to pack a snack bag with the components of this caesar salad crudite or these muhammara dip party cups (see that food processor really comes in handy!). Need some crunch? Check out these baked sweet potato chips. And this roasted zucchini dip is perfect with carrots, celery, or crackers.
6. Begin with your vegetable
When I’m trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I always start with a vegetable (or two). Sometimes it’s whatever I have in my fridge. Other days, I have a craving for Brussels sprouts. But I start with a vegetable, determine a protein, and finally finish with a grain or carbohydrate component. I’ll go out on a limb and say most of us have a different order. It helps to have a dish type in mind, such as soup, pasta, pizza or casserole. These chickpea loaded sweet potatoes are a hearty, vegetable forward dinner. I would also recommend this sweet potato enchilada casserole. Be sure to check out this hearty winter minestrone and these roasted vegetable tacos because delicious recipes are sure to help you eat more vegetables.
7. Prep your vegetables ahead
Set aside an hour to do the bulk of your vegetable prep. You can cut up vegetables for a vegetable platter, roast beets for this noodle bowl, or prepare butternut squash for this pizza. Having a few of your vegetables cut up ahead of time will make it easier to add them to meals throughout the week so you can be sure to eat more vegetables.
8. Double your vegetables
Have a recipe you already love? Double the vegetables. For a meal like this baked brussels sprouts pasta, you can easily add twice the brussels sprouts. The same holds true for pretty much every fried rice recipe. Likewise, I don’t think anyone would get mad if you upped the cucumber quantities in this strawberry cucumber salad. Okay, the strawberries might. However, a word of caution: be careful with powerfully flavored vegetables like turnips. I’ve definitely over-turniped a dish and needed to add more of the other ingredients to balance it out.
9. Add a vegetable (or two)
What better way to eat more vegetables than to add one to what you’re already making? I trust you to trust your palate. If you’re making something like this fried millet with cauliflower and carrots, I trust you to add frozen peas. Why? Because you ate curry cauliflower with peas last Tuesday when you had Indian food and it was great. Likewise, I know you’ve considered adding bell peppers, mushrooms or diced sweet potatoes to these fajita quesadillas. Because those vegetables go together like peanut butter and jelly. So go ahead, add a vegetable (or two) to your dish.
10. Start a cookbook/dinner club
You’ve heard the saying: do you live to eat or eat to live? If you’re the former, you’re my kind of person. Are mealtimes considered a social gathering? If so, join the club. And while we’re talking about clubs, a cookbook club or dinner club is a great way to get friends and family together to eat more vegetables together. Need some ideas? Start with my list of Saturday Night Suppers, a meal plan or round up of easy vegetarian recipes. A cookbook club makes it easy to plan a dinner. Need a little more convincing? Check out Lindsay’s perspective on dinner clubs.
11. Check out your local farmers market
I always look to my local farmers market for vegetable inspiration. Whether I’m looking for old favorites or trying a new vegetable, this is the best place to start. Farmers are often have the best recommendations on how to prepare the things they grew! From familiar vegetables like cauliflower and mushrooms, to lesser known bok choy and jerusalem artichokes, the farmers market is the first place I look.
12. Subscribe to a CSA
Whether you’re in an urban, suburban, or rural area, there’s a CSA near you! There are more than 7000 farms in the United States that sell products direct to consumer through a community supported agriculture model which accounts for about $226 million in sales. These models connect eaters (you and I) to farmers (hooray!) and directly support local economies. Plus, you have an opportunity to try new and different vegetables that might show up in your CSA. Sometimes, one of the biggest challenges, is all the different ways to eat more vegetables. With a CSA, your choices can be limited to what you get in the box. Creativity within constraints (like this kohlrabi gratin or this blueberry kamut salad with mint yogurt dressing). If you’re feeling more adventures, check out the other tips I’ve got on how to eat more vegetables.