If you’re like most women (and men) then you don’t eat enough vegetables. In November of 2017, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) produced a study titled Morbidity and Morality Weekly Report that presented this information: “Only about 1 in 10 adults meet federal recommendations [for eating vegetables]. Women are advised to eat 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day” and most don’t even meet that.
The Problem: Not Eating Enough Produce
Whether its stigma, affordability, access, taste, lack of variety or otherwise, men and women in the USA are getting much less than they need nutritionally in the vegetable category. Only 13% of Americans eat enough fruit and 9% eat enough vegetables according to the CDC in a 2015 annual report. Not consuming enough nutrients from veggies presents quite the problem; individuals on the low side of the spectrum are at a much higher risk for chronic disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, low energy and poor athletic performance. Now, who wants that?
The Solution: Vegetables Are Your Friend
There’s a whole gamut of reasons why eating more veggies a day is a positive thing. First? You’ll feel better and even look better! Second, you won’t get sick as often because your immune system will be functioning at maximum performance, you put yourself at a lower risk for developing macular degeneration over your lifespan, your skin will have fewer breakouts, and your risk for disease will come down ten-fold. In terms of performance, your recovery from workouts (i.e. soreness) and your ability to prevent injury will skyrocket. Sounds like a win-win, doesn’t it?
Getting more vegetables doesn’t have to be boring and rudimentary any longer. With a little help from Pinterest and some mental re-prioritizing from you, you’ll be on your way to a happier, healthier version of yourself in no time. Not to mention, your example will begin to inspire those around you, including your spouse, children, friends, and family. Here are our top suggestions on how you can eat more vegetables every day.
Green Thumb – Tip #1
You don’t have to be an expert gardener to grow vegetables. You also don’t have to have a lot of space. Many edible plants can be placed in pots and/or the ground and can even be grown year round! While starting plants from seeds can prove to be a little cheaper, if you have an issue starting seedlings, you can always buy vegetable plants as little baby plants and transplant them at home. If cost is something that keeps you from the produce section at your local grocery store, then growing them at home may be a great option for you!
Source Locally – Tip #2
Washington state has one of the largest per-capita rankings in the country for community gardens. In most areas and neighborhoods throughout Washington, there’s a good chance there is a community garden open to the public near you. While most are donation/volunteer based and encouraged, if cost and access are an issue for you, this is a great solution for your problem. Even if you cannot offer much in the way of return, hopefully, the benefit you receive over time will inspire you to be a contributing volunteer or to provide a financial donation to the community garden group. Find community gardens and urban agriculture near you via the MRSC Website for Local Government Success.
Below are links to some of our favorites:
- Anacortes Community Gardens
- Bellevue Community Gardens and Farms
- Bellingham Community Gardens
- Bonney Lake Community Garden
- Bremerton Blueberry Park P-Patch Garden
- Coupeville Community Garden
- Davenport Community Garden
- Issaquah Urban Agriculture
- Kent Community Garden
- Mukilteo Community Garden
- Olympia Community Gardens
- Puyallup Community Garden Plots
- Seattle P-Patch Community Gardens
- Tacoma Metro Parks Community Gardens – Tacoma/Pierce County Community Garden Program is managed by the Pierce County Conservation District
- Vancouver Community Gardens
- Westport Community Garden
Order from a CSA – Tip #3
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a very popular way for people to buy local, seasonal food directly from a nearby farmer. You get ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits, you can visit the farm(s) that your food comes from, and you can get exposed to new vegetables and ways of cooking. LocalHarvest is a website that connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it. Get high-quality food without the high-quality supermarket price by exploring the Washington CSA partners by clicking HERE.
Eat More Ugly Food – Tip #4
Are you one of those people who just doesn’t seem to have the time of day to get to the store and buy fresh produce? What if it showed up on your doorstep weekly? Good news – it can! Introducing: Imperfect Produce. More than 20% of fruits and vegetables grown in America never make it off the farm because they aren’t perfect enough for grocery store standards. This results in billions of pounds of wasted produce every year. Thanks to Imperfect Produce, you can now have ugly produce delivered to your door for 30-50% less than grocery store costs. Customize your box each week to get exactly what you want, they deliver it, you enjoy healthy, delicious produce and save money.
Get Creative – Tip #5
Cauliflower pizza crust, sweet potato waffles, zucchini noodles and carrot bread are just a few ideas floating around when it comes to getting creative with vegetables. They’re quite versatile and can be made into a multitude of traditionally starch and carb-filled goodies. Need some ideas? Peep this article from BuzzFeed on the 27 Most Delicious Things You Can Do To Vegetables.
Put Vegetables in a Smoothie – Tip #6
Say what?! Yep! Vegetables blend up in any smoothie quite well. Some of our favorites include avocado (the omegas create a creamy texture), kale, cucumbers, and carrots. It’s okay if blending up brussels sprouts in your breakfast smoothie doesn’t sound real appetizing. There are a lot of combinations out there to make a veggie smoothie taste a whole lot better than dirt. They’re packed with micronutrients, they taste great, and you can drink one pretty much any time of day and still be sticking to your health, fitness, and wellness goals. Here is a link to 20 Vegetable Smoothies That You’ll Actually Want To Drink, Vie Girl tested and approved.
Ditch the Bread – Tip #7
When was the last time you had a sandwich or hamburger and the bread was bigger than all the contents of the sandwich put together? Probably not that long ago. Next time, leave the bread in the bag and opt for a more protein style. Wrap up your favorite sandwich or burger in some type of lettuce. Good news! Most every single restaurant out there will make this modification for you too, so if you find yourself eating out a lot, opt for a little healthier and more veggie-packed way of getting down your favorite lunch menu item.
Load up Your Pasta Sauce – Tip #8
Next time you’re getting ready to whip up pasta, buy a base of tomato sauce at the store and add your own vegetables. More the merrier! Some of our favorites include mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, asparagus, leek, onion and even carrots. Need some guidance? Debra Steward has a great Lots O’Veggies Sausage Spaghetti Sauce featured on Allrecipes.
Vegetable Chips – Tip #9
Are you the queen snacker of your land? Well, prepare to have your taste buds rejoice! Vegetables can be baked into chips in no time flat. Simply slice up some thin strips of sweet potato, beets, carrots, parsnips, kale, turmeric, zucchini, radish, spinach, mushroom… okay, you get the point, you’ve got options! Add your favorite seasoning and crunch away! Here are 23 Tasty Ways to Make Veggie Chips to bring a satisfying crunch to any meal.
Frozen Vegetables – Tip #10
Vegetables are always in season when they’re frozen. They’re also a lot easier to forget about, but they do provide a great starting place for integrating more veggies into your diet. Moreover, frozen vegetables can be microwaved or steamed on the stove. This is an easy alternative to cutting and preparing produce when you’re in a pinch. Some of the more common frozen veggies are corn, broccoli, green beans, peas, cauliflower, squash, brussels sprouts, spinach, carrots, and bell peppers. Mixed bags of veggies and chicken go great together. Add some sauce and you’re well on your way to a quick and easy, nutritious and delicious stir-fry meal.
Grill Vegetables – Tip #11
If there’s something you’ve learned already from this article, it’s that vegetables can be used, cooked and blended a ton of ways! The BBQ is no different. Grill up your favorite meat, toss on some veggies next to it and wa-lah!. Peep the 31 Grilled Vegetables That Show Meat Who Is Boss and you’ll be the star of your next BBQ get together.
Stay Where I Can See You – Tip #12
If you buy vegetables at the store this week only to get home and toss them in the crisper to rot to their death, you’re not going to get very far in your ‘eat more veggies’ goal. Nothing is worse than throwing out moldy and gross vegetables that you forgot about in your fridge (yuck!). Our tip? Keep veggies where you can see them. When you find yourself bored and meandering over to check what’s in the fridge, chances are you’ll opt for a veggie snack instead of junk.
Snack More – Tip #13
Do you think it’s reasonable to eat more veggies if they’re cut up and pre-bagged? We sure think so! If you’re really crunched for time or are maybe a tidbit on the lazy side, you can buy pre-cut and even pre-packaged vegetables at the store for snacking on. While they do run a little more expensive than regular vegetables, however, you’re able to get more vegetables in your busy day is a win for us. Better yet? Set aside 30 minutes on a Sunday afternoon to cut and bag vegetables to snack on during the week. Find your favorite hummus dip (or make yours using this 5 Minute Hummus Recipe) and you’re on your way!
Crockpot vegetables – Tip #14
Is time not on your side but you still want to get healthier and eat more nutritious meals? Look no further than your crockpot. Pair up veggies and meat in a crockpot to sit and cook all day while you’re out and about. Nobody else will have dinner ready when you get home? Don’t fret – the crockpot saves the day, again!
Plan Ahead – Tip #15
Don’t fall victim to being too hungry or going too long between meals. Plan ahead! Having nutritious snacks on hand keep your willpower from failing. While Taco Time might seem like the best option at the moment, be patient and make a nutritious decision you won’t regret later.
There’s nothing wrong with being realistic when it comes to your nutrition and lifestyle. The first step is coming to the realization that you don’t eat enough vegetables. Admittedly, it’s something you’d like to improve. The second step is setting measurable goals, “I will aim to have a vegetable with every dinner meal this week”. This statement will graduate into, “I will have a vegetable with every meal this week”. Before you know it, preparing and eating vegetables will be a habit in no time!
You owe it to yourself to have an adequate amount of micro- and macro-nutrients. Vegetables are the key to health and wellness not just for now, but for the future too. In fact, getting more vegetables in your diet, even with a busy schedule and lifestyle, doesn’t have to be boring and gross.
Have any creative tips on how you get yourself and your family to eat more vegetables? Leave us a comment below!
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