Plan to eat two or three half-cup servings of vegetables at each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). Snack of fresh fruits (or more vegetables) and you’ll surely meet your goal.
- Plan your meals around vegetables! Plant-based foods should fill 50-75% of your plate (with proteins and whole grains for the remainder). This diet will have more food (by volume) but slightly fewer calories. Research shows 10-15% calorie restriction may be helpful in fighting cancer as long as you are able to maintain a healthy body weight. You can increase your intake of proteins, whole grains and healthy fats if you need help to gain weight. (Hint: You can multiply your ideal weight by 14 to learn the number of calories you need to take in each day.)
- Be adventurous: Expand your horizons! Try a new fruit or vegetable each week. Have you tried: kohlrabi, beet greens, starfruit, kiwi, celeriac, jicama, parsnip, fennel, bok choy, arugula, watercress, burdock root, fava beans, eggplant, taro root, mustard greens? The store may have recipe cards available. It’s easy to find recipes online if you’re unsure how to prepare your new find.
- Serve vegetable juices with meals and snacks for an easy way to boost your vegetable intake. Choose freshly made vegetable juice, Knudsen’s “Very Veggie” or low-sodium V-8 juice.
- Add 1/2 cup finely shredded carrots to 1 cup of salsa. The crunchy texture adds a great spark to salsa. Or try grated zucchini or summer squash.
- For breakfast, eat one or two high-omega-3 eggs (poached, boiled or scrambled) with 1 cup of steamed green beans, spinach, arugula or kale, broccoli, zucchini or other vegetables.
- Make tofu scramble (instead of scrambled eggs) for breakfast. Dice or shred any combination of onions, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers. Saute in olive oil until vegetables are tender. Add mashed tofu. Season with turmeric (makes a nice yellow color), garlic, thyme, oregano, nutritional yeast, pepper and/or other spices.
- Make a breakfast burrito packed with pinto or black beans, onions, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and tomatoes.
- Try a fruit smoothie for breakfast. In the blender, puree 1/2 cup green tea (or use soy, rice or almond milk, or organic lowfat yogurt), 1 TBSP whey protein powder, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup fresh berries, 1/4 tsp. fresh lemon or orange zest and 1 TBSP flaxseed meal. For variety, try mango-peach, tangerine-raspberry, pineapple-coconut, blueberry-nectarine or any combination you desire!
- Incorporate more leafy green vegetables into your diet. Choose spinach, Swiss chard, collards, kale, mustard greens, arugula, young dandelion leaves, and beet or turnip greens. Serve cooked greens with scrambled eggs or tofu for breakfast. Add a bunch of chopped greens to soups, stews or salads. Mix chopped cooked greens into humus or other dips. (Fresh greens have more nutrition, but you can keep frozen spinach on hand for convenience.)
- Serve vegetable curries (broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, yams, Brussels sprouts are great curried).
- Serve fresh (or frozen) berries with plain low-fat yogurt for a snack or dessert.
- Grate the peel and pith from a fresh organic lemon or orange and add the zest to oatmeal, muesli, cereal, whole-grain muffins or waffles, salads, or tea.
- Keep a bag of baby carrots, celery sticks, red pepper slices and snap peas on hand for snacking. Serve with hummus, salsa or bean dip.
- Expand the variety of vegetables in your salads beyond tomatoes and cucumber! Start with a variety of leafy greens. Banish iceberg lettuce, which is nutritionally “bankrupt” and choose romaine, red leaf lettuce, mesclun, raw spinach, beet greens, and other dark green leafy greens. Top with ample chopped, diced or grated vegetables. Add lots of different colored vegetables for visual appeal!
- For a treat, fresh fruit is nice in salads too. Try orange slices, raspberries, apple chunks, kiwis, pomegranate pearls, red grapes, mango, grated orange or lemon zest.• When baking muffins, cookies or other treats, add grated carrots or zucchini to the recipe to boost fiber and carotenoid intake.
- Use applesauce or prune puree as a replacement for half of the fat in recipes for baked goods. Pureed prunes (or baby food prunes) can be used to replace fat in brownies or baked goods with chocolate. It adds a chewy texture and a sweet flavor. Place 3/4 cup of dried, chopped pitted prunes in a blender and add 3 tablespoons of very hot water. Blend until prunes are smooth.
- For a quick family favorite meal, top Annie’s Organic frozen pizza with extra vegetables (onions, broccoli, red pepper, artichoke hearts, spinach, dried tomatoes).
- For a simple dinner, try roasted vegetables. Dice onions, leek, fennel, rutabaga, turnip, yam or sweet potato, zucchini, burdock root, red pepper, portobello mushrooms, peeled whole garlic cloves, and sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional). Toss with olive oil and roast uncovered in 375 oven for 1 hour. Make extra: they are delicious as leftovers.
- Bake winter squash (acorn, butternut, spaghetti squash). Make extra and store for a quick meal later.
- Make kebobs for the grill with zucchini, yellow squash, onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, eggplant, pineapple wedges. (While grilling meats creates carcinogens called HCAs and is not recommended, grilled vegetables aresafe.)
- Combine 1 cup cooked brown rice with 2 cups diced vegetables (onions, carrots, zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, or others). Season with garlic, thyme and basil. Use mixture to stuff bell peppers, cabbage rolls, portobello mushrooms or squash halves. Bake until fragrant and tender.
- Prepare a big pot of homemade soup or stew (double the vegetables in the recipe) and a salad or vegetable casserole over the weekend. Later in the week, when you don’t feel like cooking, a healthy meal is ready and waiting for you.
- If you eat organic meats, consider marinating it in fruit juices (try pomegranate, raspberry or cranberry) or concentrated fruit purees (soak dried apricots or prunes in water to cover, then puree in blender). Add rosemary, garlic, ginger, black pepper, thyme, oregano or other spices. Marinate over night. Or try mixing 1/4 cup mashed blueberries or prune puree in each pound of ground bison (or organic low-fat beef) for juicy burgers!
- When eating out, ask to have an extra serving or two of vegetables (without sauce) instead of bread, potatoes or rice. And load up with lots of raw veggies at the salad bar, like dark green lettuces (avoid iceberg) and spinach.
- Add extra vegetables to soups, either homemade or canned.
- Make a quick “pasta salad” by adding 2 cups cooked whole-grain rice, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat or other grain to 4 cups diced vegetables and 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley. Make it as colorful as possible. Season with garlic, black pepper, basil, and dress with olive oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
- For convenience, look for ready-to-eat (washed, peeled, sliced and/or grated) packaged vegetables at the market. Or you can set aside some time on the weekend to wash and prepare vegetables for the upcoming week. Containers of chopped onions, grated carrots, sliced zucchini, and other prepared vegetables simplifies preparation of healthy meals.
- Put extra vegetables in spaghetti sauce. Try shredded carrots, extra onions, chopped spinach, roasted eggplant, and/or mushrooms.
- Make a “stir-fry” dinner once a week. Cook a diverse assortment of vegetables over medium
heat in 1/3 cup broth and 1 TBSP olive oil (a dash of sesame oil can be added to jazz up the flavor).
- Bake an apple, quince or pear for dessert. Core the fruit, stuff the center with a combination of uncooked rolled or steel cut oats, cinnamon, chopped
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The product mentioned in this article are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is not intended to replace any recommendations or relationship with your physician. Please review references sited at end of article for scientific support of any claims made.