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Eat Your Veggies
by Coach Courtney, RD www.vitalitynutrition.ca
Almost all “health-conscious” diets agree on one thing ... eat your veggies. If someone were to ask me the single best change they could make to improve their diet - I would advocate that they eat veggies for at least two meals a day.
1. Vegetables are loaded with nutrients that your body thrives on
Vegetables are bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. The terminology sounds intimidating - but put simply, these nutrients reduce your risk for chronic disease (like cancer and diabetes), help you optimize your energy levels, and prevent you from getting sick.
2. Vegetables have volume, but not a lot of calories.
The volume from veggies can help you control energy balance to maintain a healthy body weight or lose body fat (without feeling too hungry!). Example: 20g of tortilla chips is the same amount of calories as 580g of zucchini!
3. Vegetables are loaded with fibre
Fibre is similar to protein in that it helps to keep you full! Fibre plays a crucial role in weight management and weight loss, but it also feeds the good bacteria in our intestines while keeping our digestion healthy. Example: the zucchini pictured above has 6g of fibre and the tortilla chips have 0g of fibre!
4. Vegetables hydrate you
Vegetables are loaded with water to keep you hydrated. But the extra water also helps the fibre pass through your GI tract so you don’t feel constipated or bloated.
5. Vegetables add variety
With so many different kinds of veggies to try, learning to enjoy them can help you stick to healthy eating.
Veggies are a crucial component of a healthy diet for many reasons. But if you are like me, you perhaps feel less inspired to eat veggies during the cold winter months.
Consider these twelve tips for eating more veggies. If you catch me at the gym, make sure you let me know your favorite way to eat yo’ veggies!
Make half your plate veggies
The one thing all diets have in common is veggies, and if you want to lose weight, you should start by loading up half your plate with veggies. Veggies have volume - so you’ll feel fuller with fewer calories.
2. Dip them in
Instead of chips or pitas to scoop up your favorite dips, use veggies! Purchase the “mini” vegetables as they are prepped and ready to eat when snack-time rolls around. For example, I purchase mini-cucumbers, baby tomatoes, baby carrots, and mini bell peppers from Costco. They costs a bit more, but these handy veggies increase the likelihood of me actually eating them! You can pick up some individually portioned hummus, guacamole, or tzatziki for a healthy dip that is portioned and ready to enjoy.
Costco has mini hummus, tzatziki, and guacamole! But most other stores sell pre-portioned versions as well.
3. Drink ‘em up
Greens like spinach and kale go unnoticed when mixed in your favorite smoothie. The sweetness of berries, bananas, and/or protein powder in the smoothie masks the veggie taste. Try a handful of spinach or kale in your next breakfast smoothie. You can even throw in some avocado which adds a creamy, rich texture to a smoothie.
4. Bake with them
Shredded carrots and zucchini can easily be added to muffins and even oatmeal. Try this recipe for “zoats” (aka: adding shredded zucchini to your oatmeal for extra volume) from our blog or add some carrots, pumpkin, or zucchini to a muffin recipe.
5. Add them to eggs.
Vegetables make excellent additions to omelets, frittatas, and breakfast sandwiches. Eggs are already a great source of protein, so up the nutrition factor by filling them full of colorful vegetables. Try adding chopped spinach, peppers, mushrooms, or onions to your next egg scramble.
6. Use lettuce leaves as bread
The next time you make a sandwich, consider lettuce leaves as an alternative to a bread slice or wrap. You can use the lettuce for sandwiches, lettuce boats, or to wrap a burger. In fact, most restaurants offer lettuce wrapped burgers if you are looking for a lower carb option while eating out! Try our recipe for Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Boats.
7. Stock up on salsa
Salsa is a low calorie condiment that is packed with flavor - and a veggie source. Pair it with low-fat Pretzel Crisps for a lighter snack or load salsa on a homemade omelette for a flavour punch.
8. Replace starches with veggies
Lighten your daily carb total by replacing starches with low carb veggies. There are many amazing vegetable products on the market include cauliflower rice and vegetable noodles. Most grocery stores carry cauliflower rice, but you can make your own in a food processor. You can also pick up spiralized veggies like zucchini, beets, or butternut squash to replace high carb pastas.
9. Don't just banish them to the side.
Add extra veggies to pasta sauce, soups, or chili. Try this recipe for veggie packed turkey chilli.
10. Make a "kitchen sink salad."
When you're low on ingredients, find whatever leftover veggies you have to toss in a bowl. Then add a protein like a can of tuna, leftover chicken, or steak. Finally, add some healthy fats like avocado, slivered almonds, or feta. I like to top my salads with a tasty dressing like the Bolthouse brand which you can purchase at Sobeys, Safeway, or Walmart.
11. Prepare your veggies as soon as you get home from the store
After you get home from the grocery store, immediately pre-cut all your vegetables. That way they'll be more accessible, so you’re more likely to eat them. Consider preparing some veggie bags so you have a grab and go snack or an appetizer before supper (a perfect way to take the edge off of your hunger). And if you hate preparing veggies - use my trick mentioned above and purchase pre-prepared veggie trays or mini-veggies that you can grab-and-go!
12. Use spaghetti squash to replace pasta
One of the most popular Vitality recipes is the Buffalo Chicken ‘Spaghetti’ Bake. Spaghetti squash is an awesome alternative to higher carb pasta dishes!