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Eat More Veggies! 7 Sneaky Ways to Get More Vegetables into Your Diet

Americans don’t eat enough vegetables. This is a commonly known fact. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only one in 10 adults are getting enough fruit and vegetables in their daily diets. Yet government guidelines recommend that adults eat at least two to three cups of vegetables per day as well as at least one-and-a-half to two cups of fruit. So, how can you change your diet and modify your cooking to make sure you’re meeting the recommended guidelines?

Maybe you aren’t a big fan of broccoli, or you aren’t sure how to prepare vegetables in an appealing way. Or maybe, like many people, you just find it inconvenient to eat all of those veggies when there are quick and easy packaged meals ready to go.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to eat enough vegetables because they are rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which can help keep you healthy and help fight off disease, as well as help you maintain a healthy weight.

Here are seven creative ways to incorporate vegetables into your cooking that are both easy and appetizing.

1. Make vegetable-based soups.
Soups are a great way to incorporate several vegetables at once. You can make vegetables the base of the soup by puréeing them and adding spices, meats, noodles, or more veggies. Some examples of vegetable-based soups include tomato soup, carrot soup, creamy cauliflower soup, mushroom-spinach soup, and of course classic vegetable soup. You can find some delicious soup recipes here.

2. Try Veggie Noodles.
If you crave pasta but are watching your carb intake, veggie noodles are a great low-carb alternative and a way to get in several servings of vegetables in one meal. The most common vegetables used for noodles are zucchini, carrots, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes. You will need a spiralizer for making veggie noodles: you insert veggies into the spiralizer, and it processes them into noodle-like shapes. Veggie noodles can be eaten just like regular pasta—just add another vegetable-based sauce, such as tomato sauce, and add meat if you like. Toss in some mushrooms and onions, and you’ve met a big portion of your daily vegetable requirement.

3. Add Vegetables to Sauces.
Speaking of noodle dishes, another easy way to increase vegetable intake is by adding them to sauces. When cooking a sauce, such as a marinara sauce, just add in other veggies like chopped onions, carrots, peppers, or spinach. You can also puree other vegetables to make them into a sauce on their own, such as butternut squash or spinach.

4. Use Cauliflower for Carbs.
Cauliflower pizza is all the rage right now. With the popularity of gluten-free and low-carb diets, substituting cauliflower for flour-based crusts allows you to still enjoy pizza, plus it adds in a full serving of vegetables. Blend more veggies into your pizza sauce or add them as toppings for a veggie-rich meal.

Cauliflower rice is another carb alternative and can be substituted for regular white or brown rice. You can use either a food processor or box grater to make cauliflower rice. It’s even easier to cook than regular rice, either on the stove top or in the microwave. You can serve it as a side or use it as a base for other recipes that mix in meat and other vegetables.

5. Blend Veggies into Smoothies.
Smoothies are a really easy way to eat more vegetables and are especially appealing if you have picky kids. They won’t even be able to taste the vegetables or know they are in these yummy drinks! Blending in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale with fruits such as mangoes, strawberries, bananas, and peaches packs both fruits and veggies into one sweet, icy drink that you or your kids can have for a quick breakfast-on-the-go or for an anytime snack.

6. Try a Lettuce Wrap.
Using lettuce or other leafy vegetables such as kale or spinach as a wrap instead of a bun or tortilla is one of the easiest ways to eat more vegetables. They can be used for several types of dishes including bunless hamburgers or hot dogs, or a low-carb sandwich.

7. Make a Veggie Omelet.
Omelets don’t have to just be for breakfast, plus they’re an easy way to sneak in more veggies. Almost any type of vegetable tastes good in an omelet, but the most popular ones are mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, and tomatoes. Add in some cheese and/or meat for a filling meal.

By getting creative with using vegetables in your cooking, you’ll be able to increase your daily intake and learn to love eating vegetables.

 

 

 

Not All Oils Are Created Equal

Canola or peanut oil? Grapeseed or sesame oil? Extra-virgin or regular olive oil? When it comes to cooking oils, the choices can seem endless and overwhelming. Have no fear; however, a few hints will help you make the best decisions when the time comes to start what is the difference in cooking oils?pouring the oil. To choose the right oil, start by asking the right questions.

What Kind of Fat Does It Have?

All oils contain fatty acids, but the different chemicals in different kinds of fats affect both your cooking and your health.

  • Trans fats (like shortening and stick margarine) contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. For optimal health, eliminate all trans fats from your diet.
  • Saturated fats (like butter and animal fat) are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats should make up under seven percent of your diet.
  • Polyunsaturated fats (like canola oil, sunflower oil, and walnut oil) are always liquid, even when refrigerated. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated ones can improve cholesterol and heart health. The omega-3 oils in polyunsaturated fats are particularly important for raising HDL cholesterol.
  • Monounsaturated fats (like olive oil and peanut oil) are liquid at room temperature but become cloudy or semi-solid when refrigerated. Monounsaturated fats also improve cholesterol health, and extra-virgin olive oil—the result of the first pressing of the olives—contains antioxidants called polyphenols that can boost health.

What Is Its Smoke Point?

The smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to burn and smoke, releasing harmful fumes and free radicals. For searing and browning food at a high heat, choose palm, sunflower, or avocado oil. For medium heat, like for baking or stir-frying, canola is versatile, but extra virgin olive oil provides the most health benefits. For light sautéing or sauces, walnut and sesame provide wonderful flavors. Some oils, like flaxseed or wheat germ, should only be used for dressings or drizzling on food.

How Important Is Flavor?

Vegetable and canola oil are great for baking because they have almost no flavor on their own, but that same quality also makes them pretty boring for dressings and sauces. Similarly, strongly-flavored oils like sesame, olive, or walnut can add wonderful dimensions to sauces and meals, but they would not taste good in your favorite brownie recipe.

The bottom line is that no matter what your needs are, there is an oil that fits the bill. Kept to a healthy level, oils can be a delicious and nutritious part of your diet.