How to Eat More Veggies

This blog post is adapted from one of the lessons in the 31 Day Plant-Based eCourse. The eCourse is designed to walk beginners through everything they need to know to adopt a plant-based diet. 

Easy tips for everyone wondering how to eat more veggies.

Most of us could stand to eat more veggies. Personally, I have a tendency to fill up on beans and grains. Veggies just don’t “do it” for me but I know that they are important so they have to be prioritized or I’ll just skip them.

If you are new to plant-based eating or just trying to add more veggies to your diet these ideas will offer you a variety of options for adding more veggies.

How to Eat More Veggies

I’m not going to spend a lot of time explaining the various nutrients because I think most of us know we should eat them but struggle to actually do it.  Throughout this conversation keep in mind that many veggies can be eaten both raw and cooked and it’s a good idea to eat both.

Eat More Salads

You can easily get 2-3 servings of veggies in a really well made salad. If you use 2 cups of greens, ½ cup of carrots and ½ cup grape tomatoes you’re doing pretty well. You don’t have to make it that plain though.

Think about some of your favorite salads from restaurants. Most of the salads are beautiful with vibrant colors and have at least 5 ingredients. They consist of greens, two veggies, something crunchy like croutons or nuts/seeds along with dairy and a dressing. Why not use those salads for inspiration, just leave out the unhealthy ingredients. (In the 31 Day Plant-Based eCourse I have lessons about replacing meat and dairy in your favorite dishes.)

Need More Salad Help

When making a salad at home try to incorporate as many colors as possible. Here are some suggestions:

Reds: Tomatoes, Peppers, Radishes

Yellow: Bell and Banana Peppers, Squash, Corn

Greens: Lettuces/Greens, Cucumbers, Peppers, Broccoli

Purple: Red Onions, Beets, Olives, Cabbage

Orange: Carrots, Sweet Peppers

Remember, your salad isn’t limited to veggies, you can also add fruit, beans, grains, and nuts or seeds. Let your imagination run wild.

Soups

My favorite way to get lots of veggies is in soups. I can eat bowl after bowl of soup, each packed with fiber-filled veggies. In fact, soup is my favorite way to eat kale. You can find all of my soups on my Soup and Stew Page or visit my Plant-Based Soup Pinterest Board for inspiration from some of my favorite bloggers but be wary of creamy soups that may contain nuts (if you are trying to lose weight).

Side Dishes

I’m not a big “veggie on the side” kind of gal. If you’ve followed any of my meal plan you know I don’t usually have side dishes. I’d rather have everything mixed together but to each their own. Steamed broccoli is a favorite in our house because it goes well with pasta or baked potatoes.

Carrots, peas, green beans and corn are veggies that are typical side dishes at home-style restaurants. More often than not they are probably pushed to the side in favor of Mac and Cheese. Do yourself a favor and reintroduce a veggie side dish, it can even be a veggie-filled salad.

Starchy Vegetables

Don’t forget your starchy vegetable (yes, I’ve mentioned a few already) potatoes, squash, pumpkin, yams, etc. These veggies are filling, fibrous and low in fat. If you aren’t sure about starches read anything from Dr. John McDougall.

Starchy veggies are great as a side dish or as the main course. My family loves to eat giant baked sweet potatoes, some times I’ll add raisins and cinnamon for a slightly sweet meal. Starchy veggies are great roasted.

Dips

I eat double or triple the amount of raw veggies when I have a dip. Raw veggies are just more appealing to me when I have something to dip them in. They same is true for my kids. I always recommend using dips for parents trying to win their kids over to veggies but there is no reason that adults can’t enjoy dips too.

Hummus is a favorite dip of mine but many store-bought dips contain tahini and oil; both are very high in fat. You can make hummus at home if you aren’t comfortable with what is offered in your local store. My favorite dips and salad dressings can be found here.

Mix It Up

Some people won’t go for it but you can always try mixing veggies into other things like puree them into pasta sauces or on top of pizza. I’ve made many a lentil loaf filled with random veggies and I’ll often create off-the-wall veggie pasta combinations. It doesn’t have to be about hiding veggies either Veggie Pot Pie and Vegan Shepherds Pie are great options loaded with veggies.


 

The most important thing is to keep trying new things. As you adapt to this healthier way of eating things your palate will change. Foods you once hated will become delicious (maybe not every food, but a lot of them will). You just have to keep trying.

What are your veggie eating tips and tricks?

31 Day Plant-Based eCourse

Super Bowl

I’ve been seeing a lot of talk about the Super Bowl lately but honestly I have no idea who is playing. I do know that it is today and many of you have planned your food already. If you are a bit of a procrastinator you can still show up with great food.

Here are a few of my top picks…

The Best Chili EverThe Chili is completely customizable to suit your spice tolerance. I’ve even had some of the most committed meat eaters sing it’s praise to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus. Make it quickly by using canned beans, canned diced tomatoes, and peppers.Grilled Portobello Burgers and Vegan Potato Salad

If you’d rather have a burger try a Bean Burger or a Portobello Burger. Most grocery stores have something suitable in the freezer section; read the ingredients in because their could be something scary lurking. Potato salad or sweet potato wedges would make a great side dish.

NachosNachos are by far one of the best party foods. Try it with precooked quinoa (it comes in little pouches near the rice) seasoned with taco seasoning, canned refried Beans, then whip up some Faux Cheese Sauce.

Even if you don’t go that far you can still pick up some chips, salsa, and guacamole; yes it is easy but it’s also good.

Strawberry ParfaitOf course you will also need dessert. Try Making a large parfait, it’s easier than making individual cups. A large container of yogurt (I like coconut milk yogurt), fresh berries, and store-bought granola comes together in a few minutes. It makes an impressive presentation in a large clear bowl and you can even add dark chocolate chips for an unexpected indulgence.

large fruit bowlDon’t underestimate the power of a large bowl of fresh fruit. It is beautiful and tasty, more impressive than the customary veggie tray. Mix peanut butter and melted chocolate together (maybe a little maple syrup if needed) to make a delicious fruit dip; label the dip for anyone with peanut allergies.

What are your suggestions for last-minute Super Bowl Food?

Meal Plan Monday: A Basic Meal Plan

Some weeks I don’t want to think too much. This is one of those weeks. I spent the weekend out of town (I had a great time) and I’m not ready for a new week. The problem is if I don’t make a meal plan we eat junk and fast food for waaaaaaaay too many meals. Also when I don’t have a plan I don’t always have all of the ingredients I need and I end up running to the store then buy everything that looks good and spend a lot of money. So this week I’m going to make a pretty basic plan based on what I have in my fridge and freezer.

Meal Plan

Breakfast is easy. The usual suspects include oatmeal, Breakfast Quinoa, Breakfast Rice, Toast with nut butter and fruit, baked sweet potatoes, and sometimes pancakes or a Breakfast Stir Fry. For my breakfast ideas check out this post.

Lunch is also pretty easy. We eat leftovers a lot, my husband almost always takes leftovers to work. We also eat sandwiches, baked potatoes, veggie wraps with hummus and bean and grain bowls.

Snacks are usually fruit although sometimes smoothies make an appearance too. I also like raw veggies with hummus. My sons love hummus so this is a popular snack. If I had an early lunch sometimes I’ll even have a sandwich for snack, I know I’m an animal.

Dinner is where I put most of the meal prep effort. My husband has requested rice, lentils, black-eyed peas, and quinoa so I’ll be working those in, except the black-eyed peas which I don’t care for. Those he can take to work. 🙂 I’ thinking of trying my hand at making Bean Burgers again, maybe lentil and quinoa burgers. The Brown Rice and Broccoli Casserole is always a big hit. I may add some new veggies to it this week. Also Quinoa Tacos or Quinoa Taco Salads with avocados and salsa. I’ll probably end the week with a Stir Fry so I can use up any veggies that need to be used. I think this plan will adequately use the rice, lentils and quinoa my husband requested.  Getting “buy-in” from your husband is a good thing. 🙂

The good news about this meal plan is that the rice, lentils, black-eyed peas and quinoa can all be made ahead of time so you can throw everything together quickly after work. Since I was out of town this weekend I’ll do most of these one afternoon for fast and easy meals the rest of the week. I’m also hoping to do a little baking sometime this week. If I do I’ll be sure to post pictures on Facebook.

What about you? What are you eating this week?

Meal Plan Monday: In The Beginning

When my husband, little boys and I first started eating a Plant-Based Diet we ate a lot of comfort foods; Chili, Lentil or Quinoa Tacos, Nachos, Baked Potatoes were normal fare for us. I also made baked goods to help ease us off the junk food we were accustomed too. Since our teenage daughter had decided to live with us I thought it would only be considerate to eat more of these types of foods. One of the problems is we started eating plant-based in the winter, it is summer now so some of the foods we are then just don’t seem as appealing now.

My husband and I are happy with simpler meals, we can eat rice, lentils, and leafy greens and be satisfied. That is a tall order and would have been impossible for us in the beginning. It took a while for our taste buds to accept the kinds of food we like now.

A few days ago I made baked potatoes for dinner. I had some chili in the freezer that I thought would make a perfect accompaniment. I was right! Both of our teenagers liked it and my daughter even requested that I make it again this week. Yesterday my daughter flipped through my new Forks Over Knives Cookbook and picked out recipes she was interested in; I’m hoping to try a few this week.

Meal Plan

Breakfast is toast, fruit, muffins, and cereal more often than I would care to admit. We have oatmeal once or twice a week, usually with raisins, cinnamon, and a touch of agave.

Lunch is usually leftovers, nut butter sandwiches, bean and grain bowls, Big Salads, or bean burritos.

Snack ideas include: hummus with veggies, chips and salsa, smoothies, or fruit.

Dinner this week will include 3 Bean Chili, Beans and Rice, Black Bean Burgers with Twice Baked Potatoes, Quinoa or Lentil (or both) Taco Salad.

There are three nights this week with activities so we will be eating early, late, or out on those days. If you are wondering how I have time to cook so much food let me assure you I’m not slaving in the kitchen every day. Yesterday I cooked a big pot of lentils and a big pot of brown rice. I soaked pinto beans last night and cooked them today. Even if I don’t get the black beans cooked I have enough pintos and lentil to get several good meals made. By cooking beans and other foods that take a long time during my “down time” I can get dinner together in about half an hour.

While rice cooks, or beans heat up I can chop, steam, or otherwise prepare veggies.   

What are you eating this week?

Portobello Burgers and Potato Salad

I do believe I am out of my cooking slump! How did this happen? I fired up my grill. (Not to be confused with gorilla, my 3 year old was disappointed when he learned I was going to the grill when he thought he heard gorilla.)  

My husband and I used to grill A LOT! In fact, he is known for his grilling abilities in some circles. When we went plant-based last year we pretty much gave up grilling, until now. These Portobello Burgers and veggies were my first attempt at plant-based grilling. I can tell you it is quite a different experience, but I’ll keep those details to myself because I get somewhat disgusted when I think about actually cooking animal flesh.

Portobello Burgers 

Ingredients 

  • 2 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tbsp Agave
  • 1/2 c. water
  • Portobello’s (I pick bun size portobellos, one per person)

Do

  1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl or shallow making dish. Other spices can be added and ingredients can be doubled.
  2. Remove stems from portobello’s then rinse and carefully dry with a paper towel or cloth. 
  3. Place portobello’s in marinade to 20 to 30 minutes, flipping half through. 
  4. Place on a hot grill, check them after 10 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. (I needed to cook mine a little longer but my grill wasn’t hot enough.

Serve

I served these Portobello Burger’s with grilled red bell peppers and grilled onions on gluten-free buns (that were also put on the grill) and a side of Potato Salad. My husband had his burger with barbecue sauce but you could add your favorite toppings. 

These burgers could be cooked in the oven instead of the grill but it is too hot for that here. I told my husband if I turn on the over there had better be cookies involved!

Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • Potatoes ( I used 4 large New Potatoes but you could use a different variety)
  • 1 large pickle, diced
  • 1/2 to 1 medium onion, diced (optional)
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayo
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard (this can be omitted or decreased if you don’t like a really mustard-y tasting salad)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (to get a creamer texture)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Do

  1. Bake potatoes until soft then let cool enough to be handled. I left the skins on. You could boil these instead of baking them.
  2. Mash the potatoes until they are close to the texture you like. I grew up eating smooth and creamy potato salad but I prefer it with more texture. 
  3. Add diced pickle and onion and gently fold into potatoes. 
  4. Add mayo and mustard. You could add more mayo but I’m not a big fan of the flavor or the added fat.
  5. I added 1/4 cup of almost milk to get a slightly creamer consistency. Some varieties of potatoes may be creamy enough without adding the milk.
  6. Lastly, add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve

This potato salad is great when it is a little warm and just made but equally good cold. You could add garlic, paprika, or any number of different spices. It makes a great potluck dish and is much better for you than it’s non-vegan counterpart. 

I ate this meal with a spinach-strawberry-pineapple  salad, YUM! Most of my salad was confiscated by my 3 year old who loves to eat “leaves”.

Are you a Plant-Based Griller? What are your favorite things to grill?