Picture this – you see a mound of dark green leaves piled on your dinner plate. They glisten from the freshly-steamed dew still resting on the crisp edges. You’re mouth begins to water and you begin shinning your fork, ready to commence scarfing.
Put that tongue back into your mouth and wipe that drool off your chin…
Ok, so maybe most of us don’t daydream about vegetables.
In fact, most of us don’t even eat ENOUGH vegetables. After-all, it’s recommended we consume 6-7 servings a day. That’s A LOT!
What if eating vegetables were easy – so easy that you didn’t even know you’re eating them.
Would you eat more?
Here are ten ways my wife and I (and the kids) have increased the amount of veggies we eat on a daily basis, especially greens like spinach, chard and kale.
Once you start eating more, your taste buds will really start to like them. And it may even help you during the zombie apocalypse (more on that later).
1. Make a green smoothie – You can add a cup of spinach to any smoothie with almost no impact to taste. It’s actually surprising. We’ll sometimes replace spinach with a few leaves of lightly steamed kale, although this does taste a little “greener.”
2. Make kale chips – Kale chips are delicious, easy and the kids will love them, especially if they help make them. Take the steams out of the kale, put the kale leaves into a bowl and pour a little olive oil over them. Mix them around real good so the olive oil covers all the leaves. Spread out the leaves over a tray and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the tray in the oven at 350-375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the kale is a little crispy.
3. Green eggs & ham (or bacon) – Finely chop spinach and add it to scrambled eggs. The healthy fat in the egg yolks will also enhance the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins like A, E and K found in the spinach. You can eat them here or there, you can eat them ANYWHERE!
4. Meat muffs & mashed-potato frosting – Say what?? These were originally called Mina’s Meat Muffs, named after my sister-in-law’s invention. She was going to make meatloaf except she didn’t have the right pan so she improvised and used a muffin pan. Over the years, we’ve improved the recipe, now adding spinach, onions, carrots and lots of healthy spices. We even top them with mashed-potato “frosting” so they look like cupcakes which I and the kids, love. This is one of my favorite meals.
5. Hulk juice – If you have a juicer, try adding a few vegetables like spinach, carrots or kale, a thumbnail-size of ginger and a freshly juiced apple. The apple takes away the bitterness often found in greens.
6. Load the veggies with butter – Not only do veggies taste delicious with a fat like butter (especially broccoli and sweet potato), it will also enhance the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins found in the veggies. A sweet potato with butter and cinnamon almost tastes like a dessert! I prefer and highly recommend real butter, especially grass-fed butter like KerryGold which is higher in omega-3s, CLA, beta-carotene, Vitamin A, K, D. Butter also contains an anti-inflammatory fatty acid called butyrate. I strongly recommend avoiding margarine and low-fat, low-cholesterol “spreads” since these often contain the unhealthy trans fats.
If you don’t tolerate dairy well, try ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.
7. Start a garden – This is a great way to develop an interest in where your food comes from – something that’s been lost in our culture (especially in today’s mega-supermarket convenience). It’s a wonderful skill to learn and may be handy during the zombie apocalypse. You’re more likely to eat what you grow, it’s fresher, and it tastes better too. Even starting with a small herb garden can help.
8. Vary the shapes – According to a recent study, cutting veggies into shapes and different sizes led to increased consumption, at least for kids. “Shape was very influential; children clearly preferred having their vegetables cut.” If it works for kids, it might work for you.
9. Replace grains with veggies – Grains, especially processed grains like bread and pasta, can be completely nutrient-void. Replace them with antioxidant-rich, high-fiber vegetables.
- Bread – Lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves or nori are great for wraps. For a burger ‘bun’ use two Portobello mushrooms or two homemade hash brown patties.
- Rice & Couscous – Try cauliflower ‘couscous’ and cauliflower ‘rice’ to replace these two grains.
- Pasta & Noodles – Try some vegetable pasta/noodles. Things such as spaghetti squash, sea vegetable noodles, and zucchini noodles. To replace lasagna sheets, thinly slice vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini and sweet potato.
10. Add veggies to everything – Add greens to your “spaghetti” sauce, add kale to your guacamole. You can even add them to your burgers. We like spinach and onions in our burgers.
What hacks have you tried to eat more veggies?