More veggies, faster fat loss! Vegetables can be SO tasty if you prepare them the right way. This week I’m going to show you how to include more vegetables in your nutrition plan so that they add richness to your meals while decreasing your calories.
Before we get started, here’s what I want you to do: estimate how many servings of vegetables you currently eat in a day. A serving is 1-cup raw or cooked veggies, or 2 cups of leafy greens. Keep this number in your head because we’ll use it for this week’s challenge.
Here are some of the benefits of eating a diet high in veggies:
- Low calorie, high fiber “freebies” – Most veggies are low in calories and high in fiber, so you can snack on them anytime without having to “count” or factor the calories into your meal plan.
- Disease-busters – Vegetables may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, and may protect against certain cancers, as well as help you maintain a healthy blood pressure.
- Health-boosters – They’re a good source of vitamin A, C, folic acid and potassium.
- Appetite control – Because they’re high in fiber and water, vegetables are natural appetite suppressants. With a bigger helping of veggies on your plate, you’ll feel full despite smaller portions of the high-calorie stuff.
Think back to our meal prep challenge: when you prepare foods in advance, you’re more likely to eat them. So get salad veggies, chop up your whole salad, and keep it in gallon size baggies so you can toss a big salad together anytime. You can do the same for any of your veggies!
Your Challenge for Week 9:
This week’s challenge has two parts:
- For the first half of the week, you’re going to have one more serving of vegetables per day than you used to. So if you usually have three, you’re going to have four.
- For the second half of the week, add one more serving to that, so if you had three before this week, you’d increase to five per day. I also want you to either try a new vegetable you’ve never tried before OR try a new way of preparing your veggies (see below).
A Tip on Trying New Veggies
I’ve found some of my favorites by just trying out new ones that I’ve never heard of! Jicama, lemon cucumber, okra and chayote are my current favorites. When I want to try a new veggie I try it three ways:
- Slice it and try it raw with some salt.
- Dice it up and steam it.
- Roast it.
Most veggies are really good in at least one of these ways.
Throw together these easy black bean wraps and you’ve got three veggies in one meal!
How to Get More Veggies in Your Plan
Salads* – I love to make huge salads with a base of romaine lettuce and spinach, topping them with cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, celery, carrots, peas, onion, broccoli, cauliflower and more! I also love to include less common veggies like water chestnuts, jicama, chayote squash and raw asparagus. Recently I’ve started adding fresh mint leaves to my salads and it gives it such a fresh taste!
*Note about dressings: A common issue with salads is keeping the dressing healthy. I love using some sort of liquid flavoring such as lime juice, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar or even a teaspoon of a vinaigrette dressing, and adding seasonings such as salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin or Stevia for a sweet or savory flavor.
Roasted Veggies – I love to cut up onion (red or white), bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and zucchini and roast them. Set your oven to 450 degrees and roast for about 20-30 minutes watching carefully after 20 min. You want to pull them out when the tops start turning slightly brown. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in the veggies and it’s so yummy!
Raw “snackers” – You can always cut up raw veggies to snack on and keep in baggies so you can grab and go! If I’m going to a place where people will be eating and I won’t be, I like to bring raw veggies to snack on. Some of my favorites are celery, cucumber, jicama and bell pepper.
Stir Fry – Another great way to include a ton of veggies in meal. You can stir-fry zucchini, broccoli, snow peas, baby corn, bean sprouts, carrots, bell peppers, onions, water chestnuts, etc. with some light soy sauce, liquid aminos or another stir fry sauce. Adding meat and rice is optional.
Steamed Veggies – It doesn’t take much preparation to throw some veggies into the microwave with a little water and steam them for a few minutes. Then top with spray butter and salt and you’re good to go! Good veggies to steam are zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and any squashes.
Sandwiches – When I make a sandwich I use a ton of veggies! I add lettuce, onion, tomato, asparagus (yes you read that right!), cucumber and really any veggie I can slice thinly and layer on top of each other. For the asparagus, I use raw asparagus, break the tough ends off and then cut it in half lengthwise and lay it on my sandwich. It adds a great crunch!
Green Smoothies – Are you on the green smoothie train yet? Load up your IdealShake with vegetables using our green smoothie cheat sheet!
Track Your Results
See if eating more vegetables each day helps you…
- Stay satisfied between meals (because vegetables are rich in fiber and water)
- Find some new, low-calorie snacks!
Questions? Let me know in the comments.
P.S. Nutrition is only part of the puzzle! If you’re not already signed up for the full IdealShape Up Challenge, click the banner below to get access to our FREE 12-week online exercise program, co-created by yours truly. 😉