I used to tell clients that non-starchy vegetables were an all-you-can-eat food, without giving them any specific goal. I figured this would speak for itself and everyone would automatically fill-up on the good stuff, just like I did. But this wasn’t the case. It would work at first, but in time I would notice that vegetables weren’t as prominent in their diet as they could be. And as this happened, they would report feeling hungrier and have more difficulty reaching their goals. So I tried something else. I now give my clients a goal of 10 servings per day.
Not 10 fruits and vegetables. 10 servings of vegetables. At first, they look at me, amazed…and a little scared. But when we break it down over an entire day, they realize how doable it can be, and are up to the veggie challenge. As a reference, 1 serving of vegetables is 1/2 cup, except for raw leafy greens, where the serving size is 1 cup (to makeup for the air pockets).
This vegetable goal serves two purposes. The first is to illustrate what it means to enjoy an abundance of vegetables. By focusing on what we can eat MORE of, we find ourselves having less space for other, less healthful alternatives. The second, is to display the filling power of vegetables. Because let me tell you, rare are those who are left feeling hungry after a day of filling up on 10 servings of veggies.
But as with any other goal, this one is meant to be worked towards. This means that if your starting point is less than 1 serving per day (which is quite common I should say) remember the motto; the goal is progress, not perfection. In this case, simply focus on consistently boosting the veggie-volume of your meals every day, 1 serving at a time, following the no going back rule.
Want to give it a go? To help you along the veggieful process, we’re going to cover 15 ways to eat more vegetables, so you can make it to 10 servings (or more) every day. But before you start, I’d like you to take a second to think about all you ate yesterday. Jot it down on a piece of paper or type it into a document and break it down into veggie servings, just to see you starting point. Then share in the comments section at the end of the article along with how you think you can boost your intake.
15 ways to eat more vegetables…and hit 10 servings (or more) each day
1. Eat them for breakfast
We tend to save our vegetables for lunch or supper, but there’s no reason for breakfast to miss out on the fun. Plus, if we hope to hit 10 servings per day, our best bet is to get an early start.
Toss fresh spinach into an omelet
Have a savoury breakfast stir-fry with quinoa and vegetables
Use leftover veggies to garnish a breakfast “burrito” (and score extra points if your wrap is a veggie. See #7)
Grate zucchini or squash into pancakes or breakfast muffins
2. Start with soup
Having soup before your meal not only calms your appetite, but is an easy way to get a ton of veggie variety in every spoonful. Prepare a big batch of vegetable soup over the weekend and enjoy a bowl before each meal.
3. Bump up the volume
Don’t just make an egg scramble, make a mushroom and leek scramble. Don’t just make rice, make an asparagus and cherry tomato rice. Integrating vegetables into familiar dishes is an easy way to bump up your servings along with the volume of food you’re eating (i.e. more filling power).
4. Crunch on crudité
Carry crudité in your purse or lunchbox to crunch on during the day and always make sure to keep a clear crudité container at eye level in your fridge. And don’t be shy to get crudité creative.
5. Make it a monster (salad)
You can easily squeeze 6 or more servings of vegetables if you’re making salad your main:
Start with 3 cups dark leafy greens and add 3 or more servings of vegetables of your choice;
cherry tomatoes/artichoke hearts/cucumber/cauliflower florets/green beans/shaved raw beet/grated carrot/zucchini matchsticks
6. Dip them
Instead of crackers or breadsticks for dips, use endive scoops, asparagus spears or fennel bulbs
7. Wrap them
Use leaves of Swiss chard, kale or collard greens instead of tortillas or pita bread
Use Boston or butter lettuce as “cups”
8. Stack that sandwich
Forget the lonely leaf of lettuce and slice of tomato. If you’re going to have a sandwich, veggify it:
Use roasted peppers, grilled eggplant or pile it high with fresh arugula or baby spinach.
Fresh pressed juices are great for getting a variety of vegetable goodness in a single glass. My go-to mix includes Kale, Fennel, Cucumber, Apple, Ginger and Lemon.
Smoothies are quick, easy and satiating since they retain the bulk of the food you blend. But instead of making it fruit-only, get into the habit of tossing in vegetables, too.
Baby spinach, romaine or micro greens are mild and a great place to start.
11. Purée or shredding
If you’re looking to make vegetables more inconspicuous, puréeing and shredding is the way to go.
Add a purée of spinach or greens to pesto.
Add cauliflower purée to mac and cheese or serve on its own instead of mashed potatoes.
Add pumpkin or butternut squash purée to smoothies, oatmeal or pancakes.
Shred carrots, onions and zucchini together and add to pastas, casseroles or even into your meatloaf mix.
12. Cook-up chips
What better way to encourage snacking on vegetables than to turn them into one of the most notorious snack foods?
Go for Kale chips, escarole chips, swiss chard chips or even Brussels sprout chips (that’s right, and they’re great, courtesy of Inspired RD)
13. As your side
Probably the most straightforward of ways, but remains the way most of us get vegetables into our day. With a little TLC and creativity, vegetable sides can shine just as bright as anything else on the plate;
Parmesan-roasted asparagus, grilled romaine with vinaigrette, braised endives, green beans with caramelized onions.
14. As your main
Use “meaty” veggies as your main meal.
Stuff tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant or zucchini
Grill large mushrooms and use as your patty for a meatless burger
Get creative with cauliflower “steak”, vegetable sushi or make a vegetable paella.
15. As your noodle
On its own, pasta is an unbalanced meal. Without enough protein or fiber, there is nothing to fill us up, which is why it’s so easy to eat large amounts before feeling full. Adding vegetables to pasta is a great way to bulk up a portion, but you can also use veggies as the noodle altogether.
Roast spaghetti squash and top with pesto or tomato sauce
Instead of cannelloni, roll-up grilled eggplant slices with fresh ricotta, basil, top with sauce and bake
Go raw; Use a spiralizer for zucchini pasta and dress with fresh sauce
What is your vegetable serving starting point? How will you integrate more into your day?