I am in constant awe of the Internet. I tell the internet “Hey there Internet! I want to find healthy, yummy ways to get more veggies, fruits, and legumes into my diet – can you help me out?” With a bit of time and just a few Google searches, I discovered a plethora of suggestions. How wonderful is the Internet?! Oh, let me count me the ways!
The following suggestions are all from brainiacs on the Internet – I am not innovative enough to come up with any of these ideas myself but I always think that we can all use a bit of help with finding interesting and tasty ways of adding more veg into our diets so I’d like to share some that have been successful for me.
Now, I know that I’m not letting you in on some big secret here but did you know that you can hide a bunch of veggies in a smoothie and as long as you add a big scoop of protein-rich peanut butter, you can barely taste them? I tried this at first with just a big ol’ bunch of spinach, a banana, a scoop of peanut butter, and some water…and ta-dah…a tasty, yet healthy smoothie. I then took it up a notch by keeping the banana, spinach, and peanut butter, but then I also added a handful of frozen blueberries, some avocado, a scoop of flaxseed, and some almond milk, and I got this kick-ass smoothie. Smoothies are great as a meal supplement as they are really quite filling and, as you can see from all the goodies you can hide in them, pretty good for you too (although I don’t advocate skipping meals).
2/ Cauliflower “Rice”
This would have to be the change that has had the biggest impact on my veggie intake. I really enjoy rice and a lot of my go-to meals revolve around rice – curries on rice, chili on rice, stir-fry on rice…you get the picture. This is a genius way of cutting your calories, adding some veggies, and cutting back on cooking time. Basically you take some cauliflower florets and chop them up as small as you can and then gently fry them for a few minutes. If you wanna get adventurous, you could add some garlic or leek, or a sprinkle of turmeric for some added cancer-fighting goodness. Once it has cooked slightly and is slightly golden, take it off the heat and use it as rice. It truly couldn’t be more simpler!
Serve your favourite curry or stir-fry over your rice, and you have even more veggies!
3/ Zucchini “Pasta”
This is a trick I have been using since the New Year when my goal was to cut back on pasta. I love pasta (oh man, do I love it!) but I know it is essentially empty carbs so when I’m craving pasta I just use zucchini instead. Get a zucchini and use your vegetable peeler to slice thin “ribbons”. I have found it best to do this until you get to the seeds and then turn the zucchini and start peeling another side until you end up with a cube of zucchini (see picture). Boil some water and added a generous pinch of salt and blanch the zucchini for just a minute. Drain them and try to squeeze out the excess water. Serve your favourite pasta sauce over the top. Yum!
4/ Lentil “Mince Meat”
I really love my beef-based dishes such as bolognese sauce, chili con carne, and tacos, but as I have been trying to cut back on my meat intake I have been using veggie ground as an alternative to minced beef. That’s all very well and good but I prefer to eat real food so when I discovered this genius idea from Chow Times I got to using it straight away. Boil some lentils in vegetable broth (or if you want a real short-cut you can buy a can of lentils from the store) and then mash them with a potato masher. Add them to your dish as you would mince. I tried this with spaghetti bolognese and it was a great alternative as the texture is similar and the flavour of the lentils was very discreet. I will definitely be using lentils instead of beef from now on and the great thing is that a can of lentils is much cheaper than minced meat anyway! Bonus!
Lentil Bolognese on Zucchini Pasta
I’m going to keep exploring other ways of getting more fruits and veggies into my food, which I’ll share with you as I find them. With these changes, and all of the bean dishes, and mushroom pâté, and kale chips that I’ve been making, I feel like I’ve come a long way in just a few months. I’m consuming way more veggies now than I was before and it’s encouraging that there is more to veggies than just salad.