If you're like most people, you might believe that eating healthy requires a lot of work. From planning out meals to grocery shopping to buying quality ingredients – it can seem like a mass effort sometimes. That’s not to say the effort’s not worth it -- but a big effort that sometimes seems easier to simply avoid, right?
We all know that eating the right foods, especially vegetables, is essential to better health. But what if you're not a huge fan of shopping, chopping, and prepping? As it usually goes, the things that are the best at keeping us healthy and nourished aren't always the easiest path to take. It takes some practice and trial and error to find your sweet spot for infusing health into your day on a daily basis – and one great place to start is finding some simple ways to add more veggies into your day.
Here are my 4 favorite ways that you can add veggies into your day...
1. Use Veggies to Kick Off Your Day
Vegetables are not just for lunch and dinner. Kick off every morning with veggies on your plate. Throw a handful of kale into your morning smoothie or use last night's leftover veggies to whip up an omelet. There are numerous ways to add veggies to your morning meal, and getting them in early means you’re well on your way to eating your daily servings of veggies by dinner time. I include at least 1 cup of greens at every meal, breakfast included. Get creative on how you start to use them!
2. Go for Frozen
Fresh veggies are typically the better option, but chopping and preparing vegetables from scratch isn't always practical for many of us. So, stock up on frozen veggies on your next supermarket run. Freezing vegetables is considered minimal processing, as many of the veggies will still retain a lot of their nutritional value. Having frozen vegetables on hand at all times leaves you no room for excuses when you’re in a time pinch. My favorite frozens? Chopped onions, finely diced celery, carrot and onion mix, and roasted peppers with onions. I use tehse to whip up quick and easy fajitas, sausage and peppers, and and toppings on pizzas,
3. Double Up
When you're preparing salads, soups, pasta sauce, or a healthy casserole, double the amount of vegetables that the recipe calls for. Stir extra veggies into your soups or put an extra portion into your sauce. You’ll only enhance the flavor and nutritional value, so it’s a win-win! Choose veggies that you ENJOY, do not try to force yourself to eat something you cannot stand, it will only result in wasted food. With that said, do not be afraid to be a little adventurous is what veggies you add to foods. Making homemade mac and cheese? Add in pureed butternut squash or pumpkin. Making chili? Add in peppers, onions, carrots and some greens. Making soup? It just calls for veggies!
4. Join the Meatless Monday Movement
If you’re a meat eater, have you started going meatless on Mondays yet? This is an excellent way to get more veggies onto your plate every week, and it's simple. Just cut out meat on Mondays and dedicate your plate to more fruits and vegetables. If Monday is not convenient, pick another day that works for you. Not only will you be lowering your grocery bill and getting more nutrients by eating more veggies, but you're also trying something new, and variety is the spice of life! Be careful of meat like substitutes. These may be not-meat based, but often are also not plant based, packed with preservatives, sodium, and lacking in nutrients.
Vegetables are a fabulous source of many beneficial nutrients for your body. When you cut back on processed foods and "sneak" more vegetables into your day - you're making better choices that set you up for a lifetime of healthy habits.
So, what are a few ideas that have sparked? What’s on the plate next week for Meatless Monday? I’d love to hear your ideas, so hit reply and let me know what you plan on cooking up!
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It’s coming. You can feel it. You’re trying desperately to will it away, but, inevitably the clock strikes 3:00pm. Suddenly, you are exhausted. The thought of striking the letters on the computer keyboard seems like a daunting task, not to mention you can barely keep your eyes open.
‘Argh!’ you think to yourself. When this happened yesterday, you swore it wouldn’t happen again. As you walk to the café to get a cup of coffee, you wonder how to avoid this midday slump tomorrow. Here’s the good news: there are steps you can take to energize your body throughout the day and avoid this desperate feeling.
The best place to start is with breakfast. Before we even talk about what to eat, let’s recognize that it’s important TO EAT breakfast. Your body has been in a state of rest, relaxation, and recharging for several hours. It needs fuel in the form of carbohydrates and protein to get going in the morning. Instead of processed cereal and milk, why not go for oatmeal with almonds and blueberries? Or prepare a couple of hardboiled eggs that you can grab-n-go in a hurry. Pair them with a brown rice cake with almond butter and jelly and you’re starting your day off on the right foot.
It’s also important to remember to drink water throughout the day. Dehydration is certain to cause sleepiness and fatigue. Imagine that a few glasses of water could be the difference between your 3pm exhaustion and vitality.
Don’t forget to put some thought into your snacks. You want to be sure to stay away from excess fats and sugars, which are in candy bars and most packaged food. The fatty foods will make you feel lethargic and the sugars will provide an initial spike, but then you’ll feel the afternoon slump as you come down from the sugar high. Take a few minutes at home to prepare trail mix with almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, Goji berries, and Incan berries. For sweetness, you can add some cacao nibs or mini chocolate chips (I prefer Enjoy Life brand because their products are free of common allergens).
The midday madness doesn’t have to continue. You can control how your body feels by nourishing it with healthy food (and water) throughout the day.
The biggest hurdle most people have to clean eating isn’t the food. Fresh, homemade, organic food is delicious! It isn’t giving up those ‘unclean’ foods. There may be that one food you just can’t let go of, but that isn’t the issue either. The issue is the bottom line, that line item on the budget when you try to switch it all to clean, organic, GMO-free food, hit the checkout line for the first time, and almost faint when the total comes up. Maybe you didn’t even make it that far. Maybe you picked up the package of organic cereal and took one look at the tag on the shelf and walked the other way thinking, ‘How do people afford to eat this way?’
I can tell you, unless you have a whole lot of discretionary income, changing over your way of eating and shopping doesn’t usually happen overnight. We make small changes and keep looking for ways to eat clean on our budget and find ways to funnel more money over to the food line. It is an investment, but I can tell you that it is one worth making.
To help you out, here are my top 7 tips for eating clean on a budget:
Do you have any local resources to share or any tips that can help save a buck? Leave a comment below.
functional nutritionist, transformation coach, and lighter of paths.