How To Get Veggies in EVERY Meal (5 EASY Strategies)
If you've read my posts about inflammatory foods, you know that I'm a fan of greatly reducing gluten, dairy, sugars and processed grains for a certain amount of time until you start to feel amazing.
And if you don’t do that, it can be take much longer to lose weight, get rid of joint pain, and overcome other issues. I hate to say it, but it’s true.
But I know it’s not as easy as it sounds.
I couldn’t completely give up those foods at first, too.
It meant completely changing the way I’d been eating everyday for YEARS.
Even after I set the intention and said… “OK, I’m going for it now,” I’d still struggle. I just didn’t know what to eat INSTEAD of my sandwiches, pastas, cereals and yogurt.
I’d get in a crunch and find myself thinking… “Crap. I’ve got 20 minutes to eat and no good grain-free/dairy-free food around. Guess I’ll settle for (insert unhealthy, gut-wrecking convenience food).”
If that ever sounds like you, you’re NOT alone.
My clients face this problem ALL the time when they start adding in more veggies to their diet to replace gluten, grains and dairy.
It’s RARE that I consult with a new client and they’re already eating lots of vegetables everyday. In fact, when I was a personal trainer and self-proclaimed “health-nut” myself, I was still only eating a little bit of veggies each day, if any.
Eating lots of vegetables is probably the BIGGEST thing everyone knows they “should do”, but no one actually does.
When I had terrible IBS, I rarely ate vegetables. But it wasn’t a taste issue. I loved the taste of vegetables… And whenever I was at a restaurant, I’d always opt for veggies on the side. I just didn’t want to cook them myself!
In fact, I never even tried to increase my vegetable intake until a chiropractor scolded me about it. Being a personal trainer who worked hard on my clients’ nutrition, I felt pretty ashamed!
I was so intimidated to start buying and preparing lots of vegetables.
They don’t come in ready to eat, microwavable packages, protein shakes or other snack bars that I was used to eating.
It was overwhelming! How would I get vegetables in with every meal??? I thought I’d be in the kitchen forever!
Well, it turns out that wasn’t the case.
After tons of trial and error, I’ve found the most efficient ways to get lots of great tasty vegetables in my diet AND mix up the variety! Here are the top 5 ways that help me and my clients get vegetables with EVERY meal!
1. Cook a recipe or main course that ALREADY has vegetables mixed in.
The easiest and most effective way to ensure you’re getting vegetables with every meal, is to pick recipes/entrees that already include veggies! There’s tons of examples for this and they’re all delicious!
If you do this, then when it comes time to eat, all you have to do is worry about one thing. You don’t have to try and put together 3-4 different foods to make a balanced meal. Ahhh, what a relief
Here’s some examples.
I usually make a big one about once a week close to once a week. There’s SO much flexibility here, which is great. Mine usually consist of sustainably raised ground meats (beef, pork, or turkey) and then all sorts of varying vegetables. I’ll use different combos of chopped red cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, red cabbage, zucchini and yellow squash. And I’ll almost always throw some greens on it at the very end, like spinach, kale, arugula or chard leaves.2.
Scrambled eggs (or omelets if you’re fancy) with veggies.
Again, this one's super easy. The eggs cook way faster than the veggies so you’ll want to cook the veggies in the pan first. Once I’ve got the veggies done or almost done, I’ll turn the heat down and add the whisked eggs and stir while it cooks slowly. Once again, you can get creative with the veggies!
Make a big meat loaf or casserole that’s loaded with veggies.
Make a big batch of soup or beanless chili in the crock pot with lots of chopped veggies and good protein. (Here’s a good chili soup recipe).
2. Plan ahead and cook in BULK.
Unless you have time to cook multiple meals for yourself EVERYDAY, then you must cook your food in bulk if you want to stay on top of your ideal diet. This often means doubling or tripling recipes and then storing your food in smaller tupperware containers (preferably glass).
That way, you’ve planned ahead and don’t get caught off guard like so many other people do…
With almost no exception, it’s so important to find time once a week and cook at least one or two different foods in a large quantity. That way you ALWAYS have a super healthy meal that’s ready-to-go.
Some of my favorite veggie sides to cook in bulk are…
- winter squash (spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut squash)
- red cabbage
- bok choy (so underrated)
- roasted zucchini (big pieces) or sauteed zucchini (chopped/sliced)
- green beans
- egg plant
3. Make a smoothie.
I get it – it’s a challenge in today’s world to sit down at least 3-4 times a day for 20-30 minutes and eat food. That’s why I make a super nutrient dense smoothie almost everyday. You can use any kind of leafy green, or get more adventurous and use cucumbers, baby carrots, beets, etc.
If you have diarrhea, you may want to go easy on the raw vegetables or preferably use cooked sauteed/steamed vegetables instead. Once or twice a week, you can steam or sautee lots of veggies (anything really – spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, etc.) and then keep them in the fridge so they’re ready to be dumped into the blender!
For this, you’ll probably want some fruit to make it taste better (organic berries are best and frozen are the cheapest)!
4. Utilize the convenience of frozen veggies.
Does buying whole vegetables intimidate you? Don’t have much experience with cutting the stalks, skins or peels off? I remember the idea of buying whole broccoli, stalks and everything used to be very daunting. So I opted for the frozen broccoli instead and it was smooth sailing after that!
Sometimes frozen veggies are the easiest way to push yourself towards eating more vegetables. They are pre-washed, precut, and the bags have simple directions on them already!
Just make sure to read the INGREDIENTS label. You don’t want anything else except the vegetable(s).
5. Make a salad
Salads are probably the easiest and fastest veggie-dense meal that you can throw together in a hurry. I always try to keep some baby spinach, kale, or mixed greens in the fridge for this reason.
Just get a big bowl and throw in the greens and add some protein (that you previously cooked in bulk, or wild caught canned fish). Then, you can add other veggies like cucumber, radish, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, etc. For a dressing, add olive oil and some kind of vinegar (apple cider, red wine, balsamic, etc.) For extra fat, I like to add avocado or some nuts. Ta da! Lunch!
By using these 5 strategies, I’ve revolutionized my health and have never felt deprived at the same time.
It didn’t happen overnight, but now I typically have vegetables with every meal. On the rare occasion I don’t, it feels weird now. Start with one of my strategies and then keep adding on.
Cook a big stir fry with grass-fed ground beef and lots of vegetables this weekend. I know you can do it.
With your health in mind,
P.S. – If you want one-on-one support in TRULY taking control of your health, click here to book a free Health Transformation Breakthrough Session with me. I’d love to help you master your healing diet and get help you have the active, fulfilling life of your dreams.