I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I love vegetables.
I like them, but I will be forever traumatized by the canned gray peas that I eventually smeared with mustard so I could be excused from the dinner table.
Don't judge. You do what you gotta do to go back outside and play more baseball.
I like vegetables just fine. I eat broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas and other veggies on a daily basis, but I still don't get enough. Especially on days when I practice intermittent fasting it can be difficult to get enough veggies.
According to the USDA though, I need to try harder. Really, that’s exactly what they told me.
Dear Kim Lloyd,
Sincerely, the USDA.
Recommendations vary based on your age, gender, and level of physical activity, but for me, and most of the other people on the planet, we should be consuming at least two and a half cups of veggies every day.
According to www.choosemyplate.gov, a serving of is one cup of raw or cooked vegetables.
Consuming fruits and vegetables can help reduce, among other things, cardiovascular disease, various cancers and obesity.
So if you’re coming up short on the veggie train on a regular basis, what can you do to help ensure that you are coming closer to your totals?
1. Sign up for your local farm share
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a great way to get more vegetables and support a local farm in your area. Every year, we split a share with a friend and each week we get a hefty supply of whatever vegetables and fruits are in season.
A share always includes a plethora of fresh greens, including kale, spinach, and swiss chard, and then a few servings of whatever is in season.
It was through a CSA that I discovered kahlrabi for the first time. (Pronounced cool robbie. I mean it wins on name alone).
Because we've already paid for the vegetables and need to use them before they go to waste, we come a lot closer to meeting our daily veggie goals in the summer.
2. Add them to a smoothie
A lot of our summer CSA greens end up in my smoothies, and I don't even taste them.
Sure it makes the whole thing turn green and sometimes I end up with spinach in my teeth, but at least I know I’m getting the nutrients.
A sample recipe might be:
2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop low carb protein powder
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. peanut butter
1 c. of spinach
Sometimes I throw a serving of PB Fit in place of the peanut butter to reduce the calorie and fat content, but either way, I never really taste the spinach.
3. Make crunchy chips out of leafy things
When I eat Kale, I don’t eat it raw and I don’t really like it sautéed either. Sure collared greens are good for you, but the end result is akin to the seaweed you pulled out from between your toes at the beach last summer.
So slimy. Just, so, so, slimy.
Instead, I prefer to bake my greens. And by that I mean Sheila bakes them.
With kale, I like to:
Take a bunch of kale, drizzle it in olive oil, and feed it to the dog.
Seriously though, cut the stems out of the kale or swiss chard, and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and dry the kale in a salad spinner, drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil*, sprinkle on some salt and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until the edges are brown or the smoke alarm goes off.
Approximately 10-15 minutes for the first, and probably an hour for the second.
Somewhere in those instructions I ask Sheila how to preheat the oven.
* Don't overdo it on the olive oil. This is one of the more common ways to get more calories and fat than you intend. Measure out one tablespoon and stick with that.
4. Use a lettuce wrap in place of tortillas or sandwich wraps.
Sure it’s messy as a two-year-old eating spaghetti with no fork, but you’re saving yourself on some calories and adding a little nutritional value as well. The tortilla is really just a vehicle to get burrito filler in my face anyway.
Plus it's crunchy.
5. Add a raw green supplement
First and foremost a supplement is just that; something to supplement your diet. Whole foods are always your best option, but I know very few people who won't benefit from the addition of a green supplement. I'm currently using Greens Plus Superfood Raw which doesn't taste as bad as it looks. And by the way, if you're looking for a taste test, the folks at Precision Nutrition have done just that for you right here.
Greens supplements can help boost your energy and immunity and I notice a big difference in digestion when I use my greens. If you're hitting 10 servings of fruits and veggies a day, you probably don't need a supplement, but for anything less than that, adding some raw greens powder is a great way to meet those needs.
If you want to read a little more on the benefits of using a greens supplement, check out this post, again from the folks at Precision Nutrition.