Learn to Love Your Veggies


Mother nature created vegetables as an ideal delivery system for important nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D and K, as well as a slew of disease-fighting compounds called phytonutrients. They’re also packed with water and fiber, which can help and keep you hydrated. Trouble is, for many people, these powerhouses aren’t a favorite food.

“Food preferences often stem from modeling behavior,” says Erin Beattie, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Henry Ford Health. “So, if your parents didn’t eat or prepare veggies when you were growing up, you’re less likely to fill your plate with leafy greens as an adult.”

The good news: You can learn to love vegetables – without trying to disguise them or hide them. Here are Beattie’s top six strategies for adding more veggies to every meal – and making them tastier, too.

  1. Use a spiralizer. Spiralizing veggies can make them more fun – and tasty – particularly when you combine them with another element, such as whole grain pasta. Zucchini, spaghetti squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes all make flavorful additions.
  2. Roast them in the oven. Roasting vegetables enhances their flavor and draws out natural sugars. Brussels sprouts, eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and carrots are all particularly tasty when roasted. For a fantastic fall dish, fill a roasting pan with sweet potatoes, celery, onions, butternut squash, carrots and parsnips. Then roast them at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Dinner is served!
  3. Add them to your favorite dishes. Grate zucchini into lasagna. Make homemade pizza with shitake mushroom caps. Add broccoli to macaroni and cheese and spinach to a can of soup. You can even shred kale, peppers and carrots into tacos. Bake them into zucchini bread or carrot muffins.
  4. Keep them handy. Set aside time soon after grocery shopping to wash and chop all of your fresh veggies and put them in food storage containers. That way, when you’re hungry, there’s a healthy snack ready in the fridge. Dress up plain veggies with tasty dips like hummus, ranch dressing made with Greek yogurt, or tzatziki sauce (a Greek dip made with nonfat yogurt, cucumber, garlic and mint). You can also purchase veggies either chopped or shredded to add to salads, stir fries, meatloaf and turkey burgers. Another way to keep veggies convenient is to keep frozen veggies regularly stocked in your freezer to easily add to any meal.
  5. Get saucy. You can incorporate vegetables into sauces and sides (squash macaroni and cheese, anyone?) since they soften when cooked for a short period of time. Eating spaghetti? Add zucchini, onions and garlic in your spaghetti sauce. Making a sauce for chicken or beef? Add mushrooms, shallots or leeks. Looking for a simple way to dress up ground chicken or turkey? Smother it with homemade tomato sauce. Better yet, boost your veggie quotient by adding shredded carrots and zucchini to the mix. Salsas are another tasty way to get more veggies on your plate. Just top your favorite lean protein with freshly diced tomatoes, onions, scallions, pepper, corn and cilantro.
  6. Be adventurous. Don’t get pigeonholed into cooking vegetables one way (like in the microwave). Sauté bitter greens, roast or grill eggplant, or bake kale and sweet potatoes into chips. And be creative with herbs and spices. Garlic, ginger, oregano and even nutmeg all go well with vegetables. Another way to keep variety with vegetables: When grocery shopping, aim for at least one vegetable from each color of the rainbow. This will keep your plate colorful and give you a wider spectrum of nutrients, too!

Challenge yourself to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. So, whether you’re scrambling eggs, making a sandwich or preparing a casserole, amp up the number of veggies in your dish. Throw peppers, spinach and mushrooms into an omelet, top your sandwich with kale, tomatoes and sprouts and add broccoli and cauliflower to your favorite casserole. Soon you’ll discover that not only is veggie-laden food more flavorful, but thanks to the fiber, it’s more satisfying, too!

Looking for more tips and want to make an appointment with a registered dietitian? Call 1-855-434-5483 or visit Nutrition Services on henryford.com.

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Erin Beattie, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Henry Ford Health who offers one-on-one consultations through the Center for Integrative Medicine and the Center for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, along with working in the community through Henry Ford’s Generation with Promise Program. Save


Categories: EatWell