In honor of St. Patrick's Day, and my aversion to green beer, I wanted to share a little about how I "greenify" my plate every day. Don't look too closely at our family St. Patrick's day photo -- that is indeed a hotdog in my son's hand. (Please don't judge...it was a festival and quite sadly...the only kid friendly option)
Our current food guide pyramid recommends 5 servings of fruit / vegetables per day. While I wish I could get 5 servings in my picky 6 year old, personally, I think that's WAY short of a healthy dose -- Dark greens especially are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, many of the B-vitamins, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium and low in carbohydrates, sodium, cholesterol and calories.
One of my very first recommendations for clients almost regardless of the ailment is "DOUBLE YOUR GREENS". Eating plenty of greens will help fight inflammation, which is the ultimate source of nearly every health problem. They also help to prevent osteoporosis, cancer, heart disease, vision deterioration, and birth defects, and they can help lower cholesterol, regulate digestion, and because of they're low glycemic index and caloric load, they are great for diabetes and weight management. But to be most effective, they need to be eaten in large quantities.
Needless to say, I try to double that government recommendation every day, and I almost always do. Here's how I do it:
1) I always start the day well on my way with 2-3 servings in my smoothie:
2 cups spinach or supergreens
1/2 cup berries
10 oz water or almond milk or coconut water
1 T chia seeds
1 tsp maca powder
2 T aloe juice
2) Mid-morning I often scramble an egg with leftover veggies from the night before and 1-2 cups of spinach. If I'm short on time, it's a piece of fruit and some nuts, or some previously chopped raw veggies and hummus.
3) For lunch, it's either leftovers from dinner, or I often have leftover salad (I make a giant salad at the beginning of the week to help save time and then I can just spoon it out as needed). For my salads, I just use what I have on hand which is almost always super greens, tomatos, peppers, pepperocini, mushrooms, red onion, mixed roasted nuts (I make a giant jar to have on hand once every few weeks), olives, roasted or pickled beets if I have them, and if I'm getting frisky, a little goat cheese.
Or, I'll make lettuce wraps and put some leftover grilled chicken and veggies in there.
4) Late afternoon, I may have a clementine and some nuts or more raw veggies depending how hungry I am.
5) For dinner, my plate is always 1/2 vegetables, no matter what, without fail. If I make a crock-pot, I make sure it's at least 1/2 vegetables. I often make a cauliflower fried rice that is probably 90% vegetables.
Sometimes I have that leftover salad with grilled chicken or shrimp
I often roast a HUGE pan of veggies at the beginning of the week so we can eat off that for several days. Usually that includes my new all-time favorite, brussel sprouts. Other great roasting options are asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, mushroom, peppers, beets, and sweet potatoes.
When I put food on my plate, or plan my meal, I find it helpful to think
VEGETABLE FIRST! And then I plan the meal around what vegetables are going to take up 1/2 my plate.
Besides thinking "veggies at EVERY meal", here are some other tips to help get extra veggies in every day:
1) Join a CSA or have a box of veggies delivered every week. You
won't want to waste anything so you'll make sure they are eaten!
2) Put your veggies on the top shelf of the fridge instead of the crisper so they don't get forgotten!
3) Chop all your veggies as soon as you get home from the store and store in mason jars so they are more tempting to grab and go. Also, if everything is chopped the day you buy it, it saves time and cooking is a breeze.
4) Whatever you're cooking, add LOTS of veggies. Crock-pot? Double the veggies you usually use. Eggs in the am? Make them 1/2 veggies in a scramble and you can use 2 cups of spinach and it cooks down to next to nothing. Tacos? Think outside the box and make them veggie tacos or better yet, lettuce wraps but put veggies inside too! Cauliflower rice? Add tons of veggies.
5) Frozen is better than nothing. I always have a few things of frozen veggies on hand just in case!
Try doubling your veggies for a month and let me know how you feel in the comments below! And sign up here for my monthly newsletter