03 April 2013

How to eat more vegetables

We don't eat spinach very often but I recently bought a huge bag of spinach from Costco, so you can imagine how much spinach we're talking about. We've had to get a little creative to come up with ways to use up the spinach before it goes bad: puree for the baby, on pizza, with salmon on top, as a salad with walnuts, craisins and mozzarella. In doing so, I've also remembered just how delicious salads can be. I'm one of those crazy people who actually enjoy eating salads and I always run out of lettuce rather than toppings. Weirdo, I know.

But it reminded me that you eat what's available. If we have fruit and veggies, we (our toddler especially) ask for them and eat them more often. I try to keep them around because it forces us to use them up before they go bad since I (and my wallet)  feel bad throwing away produce. Here are my top three ideas of how to eat more vegetables.

Source: iStock

1) Buy them. If you don't have vegetables in your house, you will choose to eat something else. If you don't like eating them raw or dipped in ranch dressing or something similar, try using carrots, celery or bell pepper to dip into hummus, salsa or guacamole instead of pita or tortilla chips. Or cut up tomatoes, get some mozzarella and pour on some balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Or saute they up in teriyaki and soy and serve a stir fry over your favorite grain.
    2) Make them convenient to eat. Most often, the produce that ends up in our trash is still dirty and in the container we bought it in. When we wash grapes, take them off of the stems and place them in a bowl in the fridge, they get eaten within a few days. When they sit unwashed in the plastic bag they came in, that is usually where they stay. Some fruit and veggies shouldn't be washed ahead of time (berries and mushrooms come to mind) but many can be prepped and kept for days or a week or more. Here's a tip: keep celery in a container filled with water. This keeps it crunchy. Even if your celery has reached the rubbery stage, putting it in water in the fridge overnight or for a day will give it back its crunch.
    3) Now that you have veggies at home, plan to make something with them. Lots of people have their go-to veggie heavy dish, but if you don't, try one of these: spring pasta, soup, curry, salad of course, quiche, fried rice, pizza, more pasta, side dishes, chili, you name it. You don't have to have a vegetarian meal, but do try to feature vegetables more than you do currently (and I don't believe in hiding veggies in food). We have meatless mealsa few times a week, sometimes unintentionally, because we like to eat things other than meat, and meat is too expensive to be in our budget everyday. Honestly, we really don't miss it when we don't eat it.

    I'd love to hear some vegetable featured meals that other people make for themselves and their families. We're always looking for new recipes and flavors to bring into our meal rotation. 

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