Research substantiates the claim that people who consume plant-based diets have less chronic disease, such as hardening of the arteries, heart disease, some cancers, diabetes and obesity. I’m not suggesting that everyone become a vegetarian; however, we all could benefit from eating more vegetables. So here are 10 ways to increase your veggie intake:
1. Join Something: Such as a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program (where you support a local farm and get shares of the produce) or an organic buying club. Go to www .localharvest.org or try purchasing from a farmer’s market.
– www .eatwellguide.org – to find foods that are healthful, humane, better for the environment and support family farmers.
2. Grow It: Use part of your yard to plant a vegetable garden. You’d be surprised at how many types you can grow. Also, look into starting a community or school vegetable garden on unused or abandoned plots. Here are a few websites to get you started:
– Burpee (www.burpee.com):
– Renee’s Garden (www.reneesgarden.com):
– Planet Natural (www.planetnatural.com):
– Seeds of Change: (www.seedsofchange.com):
– Garden’s Alive: (www.gardensalive.com):
Also, check out: http://www.dietdetective.
3. Put Vegetables in Everything: Increase the volume of your food by adding vegetables to everything you cook and eat. Cook in omelets, scrambled eggs, and meat, pork and poultry dishes. Make vegetable smoothies. Use cut-up vegetables as appetizers (peppers and guacamole or humus is delicious).
4. Be Prepared: Get bags of pre-washed greens (try for organic), broccoli and cauliflower florets or pre-cut mixed vegetables. Check out the salad bar to stock up on other pre-cut veggies. Yes, this can be more expensive, but it still costs less (and is a lot healthier) than fast food. Also, get veggies that don’t require much preparation, such as baby carrots, celery and cherry tomatoes. Cut up vegetables such as onions, broccoli, peppers and asparagus in advance. Put them in pre-portioned containers and store them in the fridge.
5. Veggies First and In View: Most people put their vegetables out of sight in the crisper drawer of the fridge to keep them fresher longer. But you can forget you have them, which defeats the purpose. Keep your cut-up vegetables out in the open in the main part of the refrigerator for fast, crunchy, healthful snacks. They’re also great for making a quick salad, tossing into soups and omelets or sauté with garlic.
6. Buy Garlic and Fresh Herbs and Spices: Learn how to cook your vegetables with flavor. Seek out fresh herbs such as basil, dill and parsley, and spices such as oregano, salt, pepper, curry powder, cumin and, most of all, fresh chopped garlic. Not only does garlic make vegetables taste amazing, it’s an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamins B6 and C and a good source of selenium. Chopping garlic releases the enzyme that activates its phytochemicals. Cooking it too much, however, destroys that enzyme, so chop garlic and let it rest for about 10 minutes while you prepare other ingredients, then add it toward the end of the cooking process.
7. Get Inspired: There are several databases with healthy vegetable recipes, and they’re free.
– Allrecipes.com ( http://allrecipes.com/
– Myrecipes.com (www.myrecipes.com):
– Food Network (www.foodnetwork.com):
– EatingWell (www.eatingwell.com):
– Epicurious.com (www.epicurious.com):
– Recipezarr ( www.recipezaar.com/recipes):
– Vegetarian Times ( www .vegetariantimes.com )
8. Eat It All: Try to avoid food waste by not wasting any part of the vegetable. You can use veggies scraps in a soup stock. For foods like broccoli, make sure to use the stem along with the florets. You can even use orange or lemon peel to increase flavor in foods.
– Buy frozen veggies. It’s not fresh or nothing. Frozen vegetables retain most of their nutrients, so they’re an alternative for people who have trouble keeping their fridge stocked with fresh. Look for frozen spinach, bell peppers, asparagus, peas, broccoli, mixed vegetables and green beans.
– Make a big pot of delicious veggie soup, freeze it and store it.
10. Buyer Beware: Learn how to buy quality vegetables. (see: http://www.fruitsandvegg