Does anyone remember this food pyramid?? These are the guidelines I know I grew up on! Kind of fascinating to reflect on, knowing other information about nutrition that we know now...
In 2011, the USDA moved away from the pyramid and instead began to teach the MyPlate approach - somewhat of an improvement:
I prefer (in case you were wondering!) the detailed, evidence-based plate that Harvard also released in 2011:
Why am I sharing these? Because even way back in the 1992 food pyramid of my childhood, we knew how important vegetables were!
Yet many Americans are not eating NEARLY enough vegetables on a regular basis, if at all. There are so many reasons for this, of course:
access to vegetables
not knowing how to cook them
having produce spoil
feeling short on time to cook
and the one we're talking about today: I just don't like them.
It's okay if that's you. It's okay, no matter how old you are, if you don't find vegetables interesting or appealing. It's okay if you ate the same mushy vegetables your whole childhood that now they're a turn off. It's okay if you have texture issues with them.
But you know what's not okay? Continuing to not eat them.
Old school America, new school America, and Harvard University all agree, folks - eating vegetables daily (and multiple times a day, at that) is crucial to protecting our health and having our body systems function properly. The Harvard plate says right on it, "The more veggies--and the greater the variety--the better."
You don't have to "like" them. But you do have to learn to eat them.
Hoping some of these tricks will make it a little easier - try them out on your kids, your parents, your partner, and your self!
1) Blend them in smoothies.
I know people have been putting spinach in smoothies for decades now in the name of good health, but it's okay if that's not you style. Play around with other vegetables! Frozen especially can make for a creamy texture. Combined with your favorite fresh or frozen fruit, some plant milk, maybe protein powder or peanut butter, and you have yourself a whole balanced meal, too! Some of my favorites in smoothies:
- fresh baby spinach
- frozen cauliflower or cauliflower rice
- frozen zucchini
- sweet potato
2) Bake them into baked goods.
Think "zucchini bread" style! Shredded zucchini and carrot are classics in breads and baked oatmeal. I like to use pumpkin or sweet potato in mine sometimes, too. ANY veggies can be shredded or pureed and added to breakfast-type bakes to pack in those veggies in the morning. Here's a recipe for Banana Zucchini Oatmeal Cups!
3) Hide them in your sauces.
Steamed carrots hide super easily in creamy sauces. So does butternut squash, which is my favorite way to make dairy-free macaroni sauce (recipe from Forks Over Knives, my go-to for plant based recipes). Peppers and onions count - add those to your tomato-based sauces. You can even puree those if you want so you get rid of the texture. While you're at it, think about cooking some spinach or another green into your sauce, too. It wilts down to almost nothing except fiber and vitamins. ;)