Eat Your Veggies!
As a dietitian, I am often suggesting to teens that they eat more veggies. Vegetables are packed full of important nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and they also have fiber, which is helpful for digestive health and to keep us feeling full longer. Feeling full longer can help people who are trying to lose weight.
But sometimes I find that I am working with people who just simply don’t like vegetables. They know that they should eat them, they want to eat them, but they cannot bring themselves to choose a vegetable over something tastier such as a piece of fruit or crackers. Some of my patients will eat vegetables but only if they are covered in cheese. Sound familiar?
Here are some suggestions for getting in more of Mother Nature’s treats:
Spiral slicer: You can purchase a kitchen gadget that will turn vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, and squash into thin slices, almost in the shape of spaghetti. Try topping them with your favorite tomato-based sauce at mealtime or make into a healthy slaw side dish.
Visit a local farm: If you think you don’t like the taste of a certain vegetable, wait to make that judgment until you’ve tasted it as close to the source as possible. Visit a local farm or farmer’s market and ask what is in season. Depending on the vegetable you can try it raw (tomato varieties, sweet peppers, etc) or take it home and cook it. To get the true flavor of the fresh veggie, try sautéing it in just a little bit of olive oil.
Dip it: Most vegetable dips on the market are not super healthy – and if you’re going to the trouble to eat vegetables, you don’t want to cover them in an unhealthy sauce! Try dipping veggies into hummus, which is a dip made from chickpeas that comes in many different flavor varieties. You can also make your own dip using low-fat Greek yogurt. Try mixing in lemon juice, fresh dill, minced garlic, and diced cucumbers.
Challenge yourself (and your friends!): Cooking competitions are a great way to get friends involved and try vegetables in a way you might not have thought of before. You can assign each friend a different vegetable and ask them to bring a dish that highlights that veggie; or give more than one person the same vegetable and make it a contest!
The spring and summer are the perfect times to start introducing more vegetables into your routine. Once you find some new ones that you like, challenge yourself to see if you can increase the servings of vegetables that you get per day to at least 2 or 3. Eventually it will become a habit to have vegetables at each meal and you will truly be able to “taste the rainbow” that grows all around us.