Eat lots of whole veggies.
Food for thought...
- Can you think of three vegetables you like? Would you consider adding these three vegetables into your diet regularly?
- If you’re a veggie hater, have you tried cooking, baking and sautéing vegetables in different ways?
- Incorporating herbs and spices can really enhance flavor. What styles of foods match your personal flavor preferences – plain, spicy, earthy? Incorporate some of your favorite flavors when you prepare vegetables. Ask yourself, “What’s the harm in trying it?” (We absolutely love spicy foods, so cayenne pepper is a staple in our kitchen. There are numerous vegetables we would consider bland if we didn’t add cayenne pepper to spice them up.)
- Do you enjoy being adventurous? Grab a vegetable you’ve never heard of, look up a recipe and introduce yourself to something new that you may love! If you don’t like it, no biggie; cross it off your veggie adventure list and move on.
- Have you ever thought about GYO – growing your own goodness? You can start small by potting a tomato or pepper plant. (If you have kids, this can be an awesome learning activity you can share together. You’ll feel a new sense of appreciation and excitement while tending to your veggies and watching them grow! There’s nothing fresher than right off the vine!)
- How can eating vegetables sprayed with pesticides or treated with chemically derived plant foods or soils, such as Miracle Gro, negatively affect your health?
- If pesticides are used to kill insects, what are the potential dangers they may have on your body and the environment?
The “No, No’s”: What should you steer clear of when it comes to vegetables?
- Avoid eating fried vegetables.
- Avoid vegetables that are cooked in heavy amounts of oils or butters.
- Avoid canned vegetables that are high in sodium, have added oils or added sugars.
- Avoid dried or dehydrated vegetables that are sweetened, coated with sugars or have added oils.
So, what’s okay to eat when it comes to vegetables?
- The vegetable itself – raw or frozen
- Vegetables that are canned in their own natural juices or water
- Limit canned vegetables that have added salt.
- Vegetables sautéed or cooked in a limited amount of oil or butter. Refer to the Fats, Butters and Oils section for an approved list.
- Dried or dehydrated vegetables (just the vegetable and nothing more)
Some of our favorite FULLfood vegetables for you to try
- Sea vegetables, such as kelp and seaweed
- Brussel sprouts
- Grasses and leafy dark greens: alfalfa, arugula, chard, collard greens, dandelion, kale, lettuce and spinach
- Peppers (there are so many delicious varieties of peppers)
- Wild mushrooms
Some things to look for when checking vegetable labels and ingredients
- Basically, the only ingredients that should be listed are the actual vegetable, its natural juices, water and minimal salt.
- Look for vegetables that are not sprayed with chemicals or pesticides.
- Consider organic vegetables. This is where the The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists may help you.
Where to find your vegetables
- Check what vegetables are in season. When possible, eat local vegetables, often found at local farms and farmers’ markets.
- Frozen vegetables are a great option when seasonal vegetables are not available.
FULLfood facts and fun
- Visit a local farmer’s stand or farmers’ market to see which vegetables are in season.
- Set an afternoon aside and visit a local farm so you can see the fields that your delicious veggies come from. It will give you a new appreciation for your produce! It’s remarkably beautiful and can be quite therapeutic.
Tips and preparation
There are so many ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet regularly. Eat them raw, sauté, grill or roast them, or add them to soups or salads. Enhance flavor by incorporating some of your favorite herbs and spices when preparing your vegetables.
- On days you don’t have a side planned to compliment your main dish, grab a bag of frozen veggies and toss them in a pan with some EVOO and seasonings.
- Stir-fry vegetables are wonderful to have on hand because they add variety to any meal.
- Sauté veggies frozen, add a little cooked chicken (or cook chicken on the other side of the pan) and you have yourself a 15-minute meal!
Sheet pan cooking:
- Baking your veggies on a sheet pan is an easy, no-mess way to prepare enough for the week ahead.
- You can toss almost any veggie in a small amount of EVOO and an array of herbs and spices on your sheet pan. This is a great way to please various flavor preferences.
- Picky eaters? This method keeps your vegetables crunchy, so it’s perfect for picky eaters.
- For a quick and easy snack, cut up a variety of raw vegetables at the start of the week. Place them in baggies so you have a healthy snack to grab on the way out the door.
- Meal prep your vegetables before the start of each week: clean, chop and cook as much as possible.
Tips when eating out
- Avoid ordering fried or breaded vegetables.
- Carefully choose your sides to be healthy options of grilled, baked or broiled vegetables rather than starchy potatoes smothered in butter.
- Ask the server to have your vegetables prepared with minimal butter or oil.
Take action today
- Take inventory of your pantry and eliminate any canned vegetables that are high in sodium, have added oils or added sugars. Replace them with vegetables that are frozen or canned in their own natural juices or water.
- Take inventory and eliminate any dried or dehydrated vegetables that have added oils or salt. Replace them with dried or dehydrated vegetables made with just the vegetable and nothing more.
- Cut up all your vegetables for the week and put them in containers so when the time comes all you have to do is throw them in a pan, toss them in a little EVOO, season to taste and bake.
- In one meal every day this week, include at least one vegetable.
- Make a small side salad two nights this week to eat before your main dinner entrée.
To learn more about real-food basics, check out the rest of our Healthy Staples!