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We all know we’re supposed to be eating more vegetables, but time, effort, and cost can get in the way. Below are a few ideas to help bring more vegetables into your life.

1. Adding A Bed O’ Greens

If making a separate side salad is daunting, why not eat what you’re already having on a bed of crunchy greens?  A rice stir-fry (or even Lean Cuisine) plated onto a few handfuls of fresh spinach makes your meal more filling, healthy, and attractive. Pasta dishes are wonderful on top of arugula or an herb blend of greens. Rice and beans get a nice crunch when spooned over shredded lettuce.

2. Pureed Vegetables

If sneaking pureed veggies into recipes works for kids, chances are it will work for you too.  Some canned pumpkin or pureed sweet potatoes added into pancakes or muffins will add extra vitamins.  (You may have to adjust by reducing other liquids in the recipe).  Pureed tomatoes and carrots mixed into tomato sauce would go unnoticed in a casserole or lasagna. And if you’re just too busy or don’t have a food processor, shop the baby aisle and pick up some jars of baby food!

3. Top It Off

Garnishing your plate with vegetables is another great way to add a serving and to make your food look appetizing as well. Most supermarkets carry salsa fresca and mango salsa in the produce section. Or you can make your own! Just finely mince tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions and toss together and store them in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator. You can keep them on hand for sprinkling into wraps, over salads and pastas, or even as a topping on crackers or chips. A salsa fresca is a great way to add a little freshness and life to a packaged microwave meal at work too.

4. Vegetable Juice

Thirsty? Hungry? Treat yourself to a vegetable juice! You can enjoy it at home using a juicer or simply buy premade ones in store. Or stop by a cafe / health food store while you are out and order a fresh raw juice. Juicing packs a large number of servings of fruits and vegetables into a quick and convenient size. You won’t get all the fiber of the original produce, but the vitamins and antioxidants will be a megadose.

5. Keep ‘em on Hand

When coming home starving, who wants to chop and prepare vegetables? We fling open the pantry door and look for the quickest, most easily accessible snack-which usually isn’t the healthiest. Don’t wait until you’re hungry to prep yourself a healthy snack.  Wash and chop carrots or celery sticks ahead of time, and keep in airtight containers in the refrigerator alongside hummus, guacamole, or bean dips. Always stay one step ahead of your hungry self.

What are some ways that you have kept yourself and your family getting enough vegetables every day?

Written by Sarah Decker, RN

(Edited by Integral Practice Team)