We know we should eat more plant-based foods, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Here are 9 easy ways to get plant-based foods into your diet. Plants are packed with healthy fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Most of us grew up knowing that vegetables and fruits are healthy, but many people don’t eat them as much as they should. The best way to get more plant-based foods in our diets is to make eating vegetables delicious and convenient.
Mother’s all over the world have been touting vegetables for ages. Did you know that 87% of Americans do not eat enough vegetables in a day? Americans do a little better with fruit, but 76% of us don’t get our daily recommended fruit intake ( Center for Disease Control, 2015 ).
Here are some easy tips for getting more vegetables into your diet:
Have easy-to-grab healthy snacks on hand.
Options like baby carrots, celery sticks, and radishes go great with dips and are easy to pick up and munch on. Dips like salsa, hummus, and guacamole go nicely with your snack-time vegetables. The best part is that most grocery stores sell these ready-to-eat.
Keep those healthy snacks at eye level.
Make sure your healthiest snacks are the first thing you see. When putting your healthy foods in the refrigerator, keep them on the shelf that’s most level with your line of sight.If you do this, it’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll make a good snack choice.
There are tons of healthy recipes that substitute out less healthy ingredients for healthier ones. For example, skip the french fries and have a baked potato, use unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar when baking, and swap out pasta with spaghetti squash or zucchini ribbons. Also, experiment with swapping out meat-based proteins with plant-based proteins like tofu or edamame. Now you can have your cake and eat it, too.
When possible, sneak vegetables into your food.
Not everyone finds all fruits and veggies to be tasty. Luckily, some vegetables are almost unnoticeable in food. Add spinach to a smoothie, avocado slices to your sandwich, or add more color to pizza with vegetable toppings. Baked goods are especially easy to hide healthy ingredients in. Some examples include zucchini bread, black bean brownies, and beet cupcakes.
Make salad a dinner staple.
Salad all the time can get boring, but you can dress it up with your favorite fruits, nuts, and seeds. Salads with strawberries and blueberries can be delicious and go nicely with creamy dressings. For zesty dressings, black olives, onions, and peppers are nice compliments. If you want to go the extra mile, you can also experiment with making your own salad dressing.
Cut out the prep-time and make meals and snacks easier to prepare.
The freezer section of most grocery stores has a variety of pre-sliced and diced vegetables. Often times, frozen veggies are less expensive than the whole vegetables found in the produce section. For example, try buying a frozen bell pepper and onion mix instead of chopping each vegetable individually. The produce section usually carries refrigerated sliced vegetables and ready-made snacks, too. An added bonus is that you can often find healthy herbs and spices in the frozen section. Garlic cubes last longer and are super easy to add to meals like homemade spaghetti sauce.
Get inspired by your favorite restaurant’s and their (healthy) vegetarian options.
What are your favorite places to eat? Do they have any good vegetarian options that include lots of healthy plant foods? Options like Panera Bread’s Mediterranean Veggie sandwich or Jason Deli’s Zucchini Grillini can inspire your homemade meals. If you find a healthy option that you like while out on the town, try making it at home.
Find a veggie partner.
Do you know someone else who is looking to eat healthier? Look into finding a support partner. A support partner can keep you on track and make healthy eating more fun, too. Plus, you can explore new foods and try new recipes with your partner-in-food.
Try cooking them different ways.
Finally, you can also get vegetables into your diet by trying different methods of cooking. You might find that you like a vegetable steamed, sauteed, or grilled better. Try adding olive oil, coconut oil, or different spices to keep vegetables interesting. Additionally many spices are healthy an add a zest of flavor to foods. Good examples include garlic, pepper, and turmeric.
Do you eat enough plant-based foods? What tricks do you have up your sleeve for getting more healthy foods into your diet?
Check out this info graphic from Live Science: