We all know of the redeeming qualities of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but why can it feel so hard to sneak them in? Still, the health benefits are undisputed. Incorporating whole-food plant-based options is a great way to get more bang for your buck when it comes to healthy eating.
Whole foods are best described as foods that are as close to their natural form as possible and are not heavily processed or refined. Now, that isn’t to say that you would survive wholly on vegetables. For instance, if you wanted to simply live on kale alone (but, why?) you would need to consume almost 16 pounds of cooked kale to reach the recommended 2,000 calories/day! Wow! That’s a lot of kale!
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean being hungry! There are so many delicious ways to incorporate more veggies, fruits and whole grains into your meals.
1. Count on carbs – Carbohydrates are not always the most popular food group in this day and age of low-carb eating, but when the source is whole grains, beans, fruits and starchy vegetables (such as potatoes), they are a low-calorie way to power you through the day with the addition of leafy vegetables.
2. Love your food – You’re more likely to stick with eating things that you enjoy, so find those meals that hit the spot and try to incorporate vegetables into the recipe. For example, you might whip up veggie chili, tacos loaded with lots of veggie toppings or even mashed cauliflower potatoes.
3. Double the veggies for dinner – Any meal is made better with the addition of more vegetables. Roasted vegetables can be layered onto pizza. Extra chopped vegetables can be added to fresh greens for salad. And shredded or cubed vegetables can be tossed into a pasta dish.
4. Choose sensible snacks – When it comes to snacking, fruits and vegetables can’t lead you wrong. Consider preparing an entire week of veggies over the weekend so they are easily accessible and convenient. Wash, trim, chop and even roast or freeze if necessary for quick snacks or easy meal additions.
5. Eat vegetables with breakfast – Vegetables are not only complementary with lunch or dinner! Think of adding vegetables to omelets, frittatas or toast (avocado, greens, tomato. Another great breakfast or snack option is to drink your veggies! Juicing provides extra fruits and vegetables to your diet, but even better is throwing a handful of spinach or kale into a fruit smoothie so you get all of the great fiber and nutritional benefits of whole foods.
Once you start rethinking how you approach fruits and vegetables, you’ll find ways that feel natural and sustainable for your lifestyle. The key is finding what works for you and sticking with it. Your body will be grateful you made the effort!