Jan 16th, 2012
By Connie Moreno
Coach Mike Loves Vegetables
We all know we’re supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables but for most of us, it’s much easier said then done. At least the vegetable part, that is. 99% of my clients typically have no trouble increasing their intake of fruit but often find it hard to get more vegetables into their diets. Sound familiar? There are multiple reasons for this.
The first and the most obvious reason is that fruit, unlike most vegetables, can be eaten raw and doesn’t require all the prep that goes into cooking vegetables. And, because you can enjoy them raw, fruits travel well making them the perfect on-the-go food. You would never just toss a head of cauliflower into your purse (although I actually have a client who does this)! And finally, fruit just tastes so good. Who can resist a juicy slice of watermelon on a hot summer day or the sweetness of a ripe plum? It’s perfectly normal/natural to seek out these sweeter flavors; we humans are wired this way. But more isn’t always better when it comes to fruit.
Don’t get me wrong, fruit definitely has earned its seat at the table–it’s packed with antioxidants and loaded with fiber but there are natural sugars in fruit that can lead to weight gain and yucky energy spikes and dips when eaten in excess. To avoid this, try keeping your fruit consumption to just 1-2 pieces/day and pair it with some protein or healthy fats. Non-starchy vegetables like eggplant or chard, on the other hand, pack a powerful nutritional punch but without all the sugars found in fruit. This is precisely why I’m such a HUGE fan of them! To get your daily requirements, try filling at least half of your plate with salad or veggies. For an added bonus, select a variety of colors to ensure that you get a wide array of vitamins.
Today I am going to share some simple ways that you can boost your intake with ease.
1. Add Greens to Your Morning Smoothie. Like to start your day with a protein shake? Mild flavored vegetables like cucumber and celery can be added to a smoothie without compromising taste. If you’re brave enough, you could even throw in a handful of frozen spinach. One of my favorite smoothie recipes includes spinach, cucumber, mint, almond milk and banana. For an extra boost, add a scoop of green powder.
2. Hide Vegetables in Your Soups and Sauces. This sneaky trick is usually reserved for parents of veggie-hating kids. Add carrots, onions, or mushrooms to your favorite stew or soup. Transform a standard marinara/tomato sauce into a heartier and healthier topping by throwing in some chopped celery, garlic and roasted eggplant.
3. Spice it Up! Even I would not enjoy eating vegetables if the only way I cooked them was by steaming or boiling the heck out of them. Nobody likes bland veggies. Make them tasty by infusing them with flavorful herbs and spices like curry, thyme and paprika. Aside from dressing up just about any side dish, herbs and spices are an incredibly rich source of protective antioxidants. If they taste good, we’re more likely to eat them! Here’s a recipe using mushrooms and curry along with a delicious winter squash soup recipe, and another one of my favorites, roasted cauliflower with tahini. There are so many different options when it comes to spices that it’s hard to go wrong. Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a stroll down the spice aisle and pick something up that you’ve never tried. You might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. Read More