- Hit the farmers’ market
Grab your tote bags and head outdoors to a local farmers’ market. If you’re in a big metropolis, you likely have dozens of markets to choose from and can spend spring through fall checking them all off your list. But smaller communities have farmers’ markets too and visiting local markets offers a ton of inspiration to load up on seasonal produce you may not have otherwise chosen. Talk to the farmers about creative ways to use lesser-known vegetables and do a little online research on your haul once home. Experimenting with new types of produce is an excellent way to diversify the range of nutrients you’re eating and to also ensure you don’t get bored of the same ol’, same ol’—meaning you’ll eat more fresh, whole foods!
- Aim to eat one big salad each day
One of the simplest ways to squeeze in at least three servings of vegetables a day is by committing yourself to eating one big, colossal salad a day (or most days). Make it a meal salad and make sure it’s packed with a rainbow of veggies and contains a protein, too. Here’s a formula for a perfectly satisfying salad every time: Start with a healthy helping of your favorite greens (think spring mix, kale, spinach, arugula), add as many colorful vegetables as you like (tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocado, beets, corn and more), add a protein such as grilled shrimp, chickpeas, grilled tofu cubes, chicken or salmon, and finally top it off with a crunchy element like chopped nuts, crispy wontons, or whole-wheat croutons. Drizzle your favorite dressing over top and dig in! Take your salad goals a step further by forming a salad club at work. Here’s how.
- Pile burgers and sandwiches high with fresh toppings
You’re not always going to opt for a salad but even when you’re indulging in a sandwich or a burger, you can still load them up with fresh, plant-based foods. Pile them high with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado slices, onions, peppers, sprouts, cucumber slices, slaws, a slather of hummus or roasted red pepper spread, pickles, and sauerkraut.
- Pack fruit and nuts everytime you leave the house
Fruits and nuts are great plant-based snacks for when you’re on the go. Make it a habit to pack a small bag of mixed nuts and a portable fruit like an orange, apple, or banana every time you leave the house so you have a healthy hand-held snack to enjoy on-the-go. One delicious combo to try is a mixed nut medley and a couple of Medjoul dates. Or try making your own fruit and nut mix with raisins, dried cranberries or mulberries, and a variety of nuts of your choice. Feeling extra creative? Take it a step further and make fruit and nut bars for something simpler to eat if you’ve only got one free hand.
- Swap noodles for zoodles
Zoodles may have peaked in popularity a few years ago, but like kale and cauliflower everything, they are a health trend that stands the test of time. All you need is a spiralizer and you can make long and nutritious vegetable strands out of just about any vegetable. Try spiralizing zucchini, summer squash, carrot, beets, white potatoes, russet potatoes, butternut squash, turnips, and more. There are so many things you can do with spiralized noodles, but one of the easiest is to use them to replace traditional wheat noodles in your favorite pasta dishes. If you’re not ready to go full zoodle pasta yet, replace just half of your traditional noodles with zoodles in a 50/50 pasta dish.
- Make veggie-filled baked goods
This is an especially handy trick when you’re dealing with picky eaters. Try grating up zucchini, carrot, sweet potato, beets, and even mashing avocado to mix into loaves, muffins, cakes, cookies, bars, and more. There are tons of recipes to choose from online, and another option is to take a shortcut to fresh produce and bake with a beets powder like in this Birthday Cake Bites recipe.
- Add powerhouse veggies to smoothies
Take your fruit smoothie and up the ante with superfood veggies like spinach, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, avocado, beets, cucumbers, squash, and many more. The sky’s the limit. To balance any bitterness from strong-tasting vegetables like celery, include a fruit element like a half an apple or a date or two to lend some sweetness. For hardier vegetables, a high-powered blender is best.
Pro Tip: To prevent a stuck blender, always add your liquid base first. Start by adding yogurt, water, juice or milks, then any easy-to-blend ingredients like soft or frozen fruits and finally layer the hardy ingredients at the top so that your blender has a chance to mix a soft liquid base before cutting through tough vegetables like beets and broccoli.
- Prep veggie snacks ahead for the week
When you do your food shop for the week, stock up on extra vegetables like cucumbers, sugar snap peas, radishes, celery, carrots, bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower, as well as some healthy dips like hummus and babaganoush. When you get home, wash and slice a few containers of them before even putting them in the fridge so that they’re ready to eat and it’s the most convenient snack to reach for when hunger strikes.
- Make your own nut milks
Making your own nut milk is surprisingly easy. Whether you’re into almond, cashew, or oat milk, you will typically only need two to three ingredients, one of which is water (super easy!) plus a little soaking time in some cases and a blender. Making your own is not only a great way to sneak more plant sources of food into your diet, you’ll also save a pretty penny – have you seen the price tag on the alternative milks that crowd supermarket shelves? The only tool you’ll need aside from a blender is a super affordable cheesecloth to fine-strain your milk after you blend it to ensure it’s silky smooth for drinking or mixing into your morning latte. Here’s a two-ingredient recipe for oat milk to try.
- Wilt greens into soups
Just like how we tucked vegetables into fruit smoothies above, you can do the same thing with all your comforting soup recipes. Near the end of just about any pot of simmering soup, fold in washed and chopped greens like swiss chard, spinach, and kale. Once it softens, shrinks, and essentially absorbs into the soup, you’re ready to eat!
- Eat more legumes
Use legumes as a meat substitute in just about any meat-based recipe to eat less meat overall and squeeze in more plant-based sources of protein. Instead of chicken, add chickpeas to salads or try making chickpea nuggets. Use small lentils in the place of taco, nacho, or chili meat – or use them to make a lentil bolognese instead of traditional beef. Replace beef with black beans in burger patties or meatballs and try using a medley of legumes as a replacement for the meat-base in shepherd’s pie. There are endless easy ways to use beans in the place of meat in recipes.
- Try tofu steaks or crispy tofu cubes
Some people turn those noses up at tofu, but oftentimes that’s because they haven’t had it prepared properly. There are some very easy ways to make tofu taste good that will make you wonder what took you so long to come around. Not only is it easy to work with and super affordable, it’s a fantastic source of protein that adapts well to many different cuisines and flavor profiles thanks to its chameleon-like ability to take on any taste that it’s paired with. Try making tofu “steaks.” Start out with a firm tofu and drain it well. Then season it anyway you like and pan grill it or throw it on the barbecue for a few minutes per side. Using a grill pan will give nice grill marks, making it feel even more steak-like. Here’s a popular recipe worth trying.
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