Just do it. It’s not that hard. HA – totally kidding. Let’s be real here. It definitely requires some effort to make vegetables a regular part of your diet. I get it. But trust me when I say it’s worth it. Let’s talk about some ways you can make it happen.
First off, you’ve gotta start thinking of vegetables as the star of the show. Everyone automatically plans their meals around whatever kind of meat they’re having. Whether it’s burgers, steak, or chicken breasts, veggies always seem to be an afterthought when it comes to meal planning. Think about which vegetables you like, what you have on hand, and plan your meal from there. Then, try to include a complex carbohydrate of some sort (examples: brown rice, whole grain pasta, beans, sweet potatoes, etc.) and a good source of lean protein as well. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t always HAVE to be meat!!! Crazy, I know. Having vegetarian meals a couple times a week is actually a very good idea, as lower intakes of meat have been identified as a healthier eating pattern (especially processed meats). Basically, most people are eating way too much meat, and not enough fruit and vegetables. Imagine that.
In order to incorporate more veggies into your diet, you must have them available. This means you have to get off your bum, head to the produce section of your local grocery store, and go a little crazy. Since we are FINALLY heading towards spring / summertime, there are so many yummy fresh fruits and vegetables available at low prices, so the whole “fresh produce is too expensive” excuse is not very valid. Sorry ’bout it. You can also buy frozen and canned vegetables all year round at very reasonable prices. And fresh produce is available all the time at stores like Aldi and Walmart for next to nothing. SO MANY OPTIONS, PEOPLE. And if you want to save a little bit of cash on your next grocery trip, spend less money on packaged items like chips and junk food, and more money on fresh fruits & veggies.
When you get to the produce section, try to have some ideas in mind so you’re not just wandering aimlessly, unsure of what you should grab. Otherwise, it can be a little (or a lot) overwhelming. Ideally, you should try to write 3-5 meals down at home before you get to the store. Once you think up some meals you might want to make throughout the week, pick up the items you need in order to make those meals happen. Buy some zucchini to make zoodles one night, broccoli & cauliflower to steam up as a side dish along with some baked tilapia, lots of Brussels sprouts and carrots to roast and have leftovers, and a few sweet potatoes to bake (OR microwave on busy nights). You get the point. The possibilities are endless!
Most people struggle to get vegetables at breakfast more than at lunch and dinner. I would recommend grabbing a few items that you can chop up to easily toss into your eggs in the morning for a quick, healthy omelette, such as tomatoes, onions, and/or bell peppers. If nothing else, do yourself a favor and grab some frozen chopped spinach & start the day off right with some greens in your eggs. Which is what I do DAILY.
Next, get a big container of spinach/spring mix. (Hint: iceberg lettuce is really not doing much for ya in the way of providing nutrients. Go for those dark, leafy greens instead!) That way if you don’t have any vegetables prepped for a meal or if you’re just feeling lazy, you can quickly and easily whip up a side salad along with your meal. And you can even add it to whatever you’re eating. If you’re having a sandwich or a burger, throw a big fat handful of spinach into the mix. Or if you’re eating brown rice and chicken, have it on top of a bed of spring mix. Go crazy. Salads are also a super easy and healthy thing to pack if you bring your lunch to work, which you definitely should start doing if you currently go out to eat every day. Your wallet and waistline will both thank you!
Another thing I love to have on hand is my mexi-veggie mix (which consists of a can of Mexicorn, a can of diced tomatoes/onions, and a can of black beans — all rinsed well and drained of course). This is such a yummy combo to throw into eggs at breakfast as well, but it’s also easy to incorporate into a variety of meals, such as tacos or tostadas, along with brown rice and a spicy black bean burger, or as a burrito, etc. Get creative!!! Don’t be afraid to try new things in the kitchen. The worst that can happen is you fail and your dinner is totally ruined. That’s what cereal is for. 😉
When you do decide to take the time to chop/prep and/or roast some vegetables, make a large batch so you have leftovers. That way you can have them at a meal right away, as well as the next day, and maybe even the next day! But if you’re anything like me, they disappear pretty quickly and then it’s time to make more. 🙂
I challenge you to eat at least 1 serving of veggies at all 3 meals throughout the rest of this week!
Are you up for it? ?
I make roasted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots and sweet potatoes almost weekly, and I have gotten several requests for the recipe. Unfortunately, it’s not very scientific or exact, but I’ll tell you what I do step-by-step. : )
- 1-1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts
- 1/2-1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 7-8 large carrots, cut into desired size for “fries”
- 2 sweet potatoes
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Mr. Misto Olive Oil sprayer – not 100% crucial but totally recommended!!
- Wash all produce. I use a brush to thoroughly clean my sweet potatoes, and I just rinse the rest and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and roast all vegetables for 35-40 minutes, tossing halfway through so they brown evenly (except I do not turn the sweet potato rounds over).
I will go through the specifics of how I cut/prep each of these veggies, because not everyone knows all of those steps if you’ve never worked with these foods before! I will admit, I had to Google it the first time I made Brussels sprouts, which was only a couple of months ago! Don’t be ashamed — we all have to try new things sometime.
Cut off the bottom/stem, and then I like to cut them in half. This is not required, but it saves you a step later because they are usually big enough to eat in 2 bites. I think they roast a little better when they are cut in half too.
Then I cut it in half.
Cut off the heavy stem of the head of cauliflower and remove all the excess leaves. Pretty self explanatory here. Cut the cauliflower into florets (so they look like little trees basically) and then into smaller pieces as desired. I like to cut my roasted cauliflower into smaller pieces than when I steam it. Don’t ask me why. I guess similar to the Brussels sprouts, they roast better in smaller pieces.
It’s perfectly fine to have the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower mixed in together on the sheet. For some reason I did it separately this time.
Wash and peel the outside layer of the carrots, then I usually cut them into thirds. From there, I continue to cut into smaller pieces, about 2-3″ long and pretty thin, like sweet potato fries you would get at a restaurant. It totally depends on your preference though – if you prefer thicker “fries”, then don’t cut them as small as I do! I just have found that they get soft faster if they are cut into thinner pieces. They are delicious regardless.
Once I have chopped all the veggies in half / into florets / or into “fries”, I place them in a large bowl and toss them with ~1.5-2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and 1/8-1/4 tsp of black pepper, depending on the amount of veggies you’re using. You can also just use a pepper shaker and add the desired amount of pepper you’d like.
Then I lay them all out on a baking sheet covered with foil. This just keeps the pan from getting all yucky and eliminates the need to clean up afterwards. So I highly recommend using foil.
Once the veggies are all laid out on the pan, I do literally 2 small shakes of the salt shaker over the top of them. I don’t think they really need any salt because the roasted flavor is so delicious already!
I separate the carrot fries when I lay all the veggies on the baking sheet to roast, because I season them with paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. I do not measure the spices. (Two pictures ago I tossed and seasoned them separately in Tupperware, because I only made the carrots that night.) I pretty much just shake the spices all over the top of the carrots so they are perfectly seasoned – not too much, not too little. I toss the carrots a few times after seasoning to make sure they are evenly coated.
Sweet Potato Rounds:
Brush/rinse potatoes and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut sweet potatoes into thin slices (~1/4 inch – the thinner they are, the crunchier they are, so again, cut based on your preference. I like to do thicker ones because they are nice and soft). Arrange them onto the baking sheet – also covered with foil – and spray both sides with a Mr. Misto olive oil sprayer. Then I season the top with cinnamon. Again, I don’t measure the amount of cinnamon, I just sprinkle each round until it is seasoned to my liking. 🙂
This is before roasting:
If you don’t have a Mr. Misto, I highly recommend you go purchase one. Otherwise, you can drizzle your sweet potato rounds with 1/2-1 tbsp of olive oil in a bowl and toss to coat just like the other veggies.
I hope you enjoy these roasted veggies as much as I do! They have seriously changed my life. I can’t imagine what my dinners would look like without making these at least once a week!!
Have a great rest of the week : )