Make it easy to eat more veggies
"Eat more vegetables" is advice you get from your doctor, your mom and probably Gwyneth Paltrow. And that unlikely trifecta knows what's up: eating more vegetables allows you to increase your micronutrient intake, increase fiber for digestive and heart health, reduce the amount of calories you consumer overall, and add taste, visual and textural interest to your meals.
One crucial group of vegetables in include in your diet is the cruciferous family. Cruciferous vegetables are the family of vegetables that include cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, and my BFF kale. In addition to being nutrient powerhouses, they have also been shown to have cancer-protective properties, particularly via the phytonutrient sulphoraphane. (The same guy is responsible for this family's recognizable sulfury odor.)
Yet "eat more vegetables" really isn't a great goal to have because it's too vague and not quantifiable. Look at the 3 scenarios below and see which one you identify with the most. I've created a more specific, attainable goal attached to each personality to help you start living the Very Vegetable Life. (Reality show idea?!) And I've also included one cruciferous vegetable recipe to get you started with each goal.
Scenario 1: The Veggie Loather
You're not that into vegetables (or complicated recipes) and feel overwhelmed by the idea of making a huge change to your diet, but you want to make baby steps to start eating more good-for-you food. But it has to be easy and taste good.
Adopt this goal: Eat 1 green thing at dinner every day.
This is often a goal I set for my coaching clients who want to build consistent healthy habits. Even if you are eating pizza or Chinese takeout, make sure you add one one serving of something green. Broccoli, kale and bok choy from the cruciferous family are all quick-to-prepare picks.
Recipe to try: Gingery Baby Boy Choy (pictured above)
Baby boy choy is a crowd-pleaser because it's crunchy and juicy and not too bitter. With just ginger, oil and salt, it sautes up in less than 5 minutes and can be added on to almost any meal.
Scenario 2: The Veggie Flip-flopper
Your imaginary food journal has some color scattered around it, but not as consistently as you like. You like eating vegetables, but find they are always on the side of your meal, not the center of it.
Adopt this goal: Eat 1 vegetable at every meal.
Again, this goal is about consistency. Try spinach with eggs in the morning, a salad for lunch and roasted brussels sprouts with your dinner.
Recipe to try: Kale Salad with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Crispy Chickpeas (pictured below)
A kale salad makes a perfect take-along lunch that gets you a monster serving of cruciferous veggies in for the day.
Scenario 3: The Veggie Lover
You rival this wellness chef with your love of veggies, but are looking for ways to make it fast, tasty and not get 6 different pots dirty when you are cooking dinner.
Adopt this goal: Eat 2 vegetables at every meal.
This is the big one and the goal I set for myself with my Very Vegetable cooking classes. For the pros out there, make sure that you get 1 cruciferous a day and fill in the rest with other colorful vegetables like spinach, beets, sweet potatoes, red peppers, carrots and more.
Recipe to try: Cauliflower, Kale and Chickpea Saute (pictured below)
A group favorite from a week-long clean eating challenge I ran earlier this year, this one-skillet dinner boasts 2 cruciferous veggies. A simple sauce of tamari, maple and toasted sesame oil makes it anything but bland.