Most of us don’t eat enough vegetables even though we know they are very healthy. Here’s how you can eat more, according to a dietitian, without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
Since having my second baby, I have struggled to find the time to prepare and cook healthy options for our family. Most of the time, we eat something quickly. Some evenings it’s take out. Some evenings it’s pasta. And some evenings we are lucky enough to have cheese and crackers for dinner. While I know that navigating a newborn’s life is only a short season, I tried harder to eat vegetables (and fruit) to help us stay healthy.
Whether you’re very busy or just want to increase your product intake, I’ve put in place a few strategies to make it happen. The vegetables should be as easy as possible. This means they don’t have to be all local, organic, and fresh (if that’s very important to you, go for it, but it doesn’t have to). Including vegetables in your diet is more important than focusing on “perfect” eating, and sometimes that means relying on convenience. I know I’m not the only one who needs fast foods that also contain veggies, so hopefully these tips can help you too.
1. Eliminate chopping
It won’t work for all vegetables, but many are ready to use. Think baby carrots, sliced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and baby spinach. Whether you nibble them for a quick snack or toss them on plates like a 20-minute cherry tomato garlic paste or a spinach and mushroom frittata, your veggies require no prep, which saves you money. time in the kitchen. Other pre-cut vegetables, such as cauliflower, squash, and broccoli, reduce the cut, but often cost more.
2. Opt for frozen and canned
If you want convenience without paying more, go for frozen and canned vegetables. Despite what you may have heard, frozen and canned vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Frozen vegetables are picked at their peak of maturity and are instantly frozen. Canned vegetables often have added sodium, which may cause you concern, but many companies offer low sodium varieties. Frozen and canned vegetables are great because they last a long time, are inexpensive, require almost no preparation, and are suitable for a variety of dishes. My favorite frozen options are peas, corn, and broccoli. The prices canned in our house include tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Having them on hand makes it easy to add vitamins, minerals and fiber to any meal.
3. Snack smarter
Despite my best efforts, some lunches and dinners still lack vegetables. It’s good. On days when the weather is particularly tight (my husband works late, I have a very busy work day, school is closed) I try to make sure I include vegetables for snacks. I tend to snack on nuts and fruit, yogurt and granola, an energy bar or cheese and crackers. I have to consciously remember to choose vegetables. Sliced cucumber or bell pepper with hummus, carrots and peanut butter (don’t beat it until you’ve tried it) or a cup of vegetable soup are delicious snacks and help me increase my intake of vegetables throughout the day.
4. Utilize your slow cooker
5. Use store-bought sauces
Vegetables need to be tasty for you to eat them. Right now, I don’t have time to make creative marinades, dressings and sauces; I trust store bought options. Whether it’s a salad kit with delicious toppings and toppings (here are 10 Trader Joe’s favorites), using pesto to liven up grilled veggies, or using sautéed sauces for easy meals.
Welcome to La Betterave. A weekly column where Lisa Valente, Nutrition Editor and Registered Dietitian, discusses hot topics in nutrition and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little nerve.