Ways to Eat More Vegetables by Lisa Johnson, RD

Spring has sprung which means the garden-fresh vegetable selections will be more plentiful. And, most people adapt to warmer months by lightening their load when it some to food choices. Spring cleaning isn’t just for our environment we know!

The benefits of a lifestyle high in vegetables are well established. Any healthcare professional will encourage this adaptation based on solid research. A lifestyle high in vegetable intake will prevent most chronic health conditions including:

> Heart disease

> Diabetes

> Cancer

> High Blood Pressure

> Stroke

> Obesity

Yet, even though we know this, too many people still report a very low intake of less than 1 serving per day! Clearly this correlates with statistics on obesity. But we all know baby steps are needed to support lasting change. Therefore, I am supplying easy ways to increase your vegetable intake as well as a link to find a fresh produce farm near you! I encourage you to aim for consistent application in at least 1 area you are not currently choosing non-starchy vegetables as 35-50% of a meal or snack.

Yikes, 35-50%! Yes, that is correct. The USDA My Plate guidelines recommend 50% of your plate to be derived from non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Many trendy-dieters find fault with these guidelines because 25% of your meal or snack are still allowed from starches or grains. My belief is, however, that if we consistently applied the guidelines as directed; including the activity guidelines and empty calorie restrictions, we would not have the health epidemic we do. So instead questioning the research, lets work to apply the knowledge we have. Let’s aim for 35-50% of every meal and snack being derived from non-starchy vegetables!

Here are basic meal and snack ideas to get you going.

Breakfast:

* Scramble or serve left-over veggies with eggs such as greens, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms, onions, squash, cauliflower, zucchini, or cabbage. For time-savings prepare egg-veggie muffins ahead to reheat.

* Or, toss your favorite greens into a smoothie with frozen fruits, or use beet juice as a smoothie base!

Lunch:

* Choose more salads, veggie-rich soups or wraps which are easy to stuff with spinach, shredded carrots, cucumber slices, lettuce or tomatoes.

Dinner:

* Use more veggie rice and noodles, either fresh or frozen. A common veggie peeler makes zucchini and squash ribbons like butter!

Snacks:

* Pack raw veggies like carrot chips, grape tomatoes, snap peas, celery or cucumber slices.

* Use carrot chips, cauliflower, celery, bell pepper, or cucumber spears for healthy dips like hummus or guacamole.

For local, fresh produce at better-than-grocery prices, find a farm near you at: https://ncfarmfresh.com/index.asp. If that doesn’t fit your lifestyle try home-delivery through The Produce Box: https://theproducebox.com/how-it-works/or at least shop the perimeter of the store.

Let’s make this spring and summer our healthiest ever!

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