If you know you need to eat more vegetables but struggle to make it happen because it seems to too hard—or boring—try these five easy veggie fixes that will also save you from packing on extra weight…
Make sandwiches, pizzas, and wraps with lettuce instead of using the heavy carbs. By using Swiss chard, collards or lettuce wraps, you get a great crunch, packed with nutrients and fiber but for only several calories versus 100 calories per slice of bread.
You can also make sandwiches with cucumber or eggplant slices instead of bread.
If you must have bread, use Nori: one large Nori sheet is just 10 calories, while a wrap or two slices of bread are 200-300 calories.
2. Try cauliflower disguised as a guilt-free comfort food: mashed potatoes
This dish pleases the pickiest of palates because it tastes like the rich, creamy, real deal. Simply steam a head of cauliflower until tender when poked with a fork. Add skim milk, garlic, pepper and a couple of teaspoons of butter (if desired) in a blender. Blend until smooth. Place mixture in a small baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan and paprika, if you want added flavor. Pair this with a protein like chicken, fish or seafood and thanks to the cauliflowers’ high Vitamin C content, it will enhance the absorption of iron in the meat.
This version of “mashed potatoes” saves at least 170 calories per cup and packs in the fiber.
3. Stir fry mushrooms, onions, peppers and your favorite veggies into marinara sauce
Use the sauce to top baked potatoes, fish, chicken and pasta.
Don’t worry about cooking the tomatoes too long or using sauce from a jar—there’s four times the disease fighting lycopene in tomato sauce than in fresh tomatoes. Cancer-fighting beta carotene is more readily available in cooked tomatoes, as well.
4. Add vegetables to your favorite soup.
Adding ready-to-cook vegetables will boost the nutrients and fiber of your soup and make it more satisfying.
Use thawed frozen vegetables to save time rather than having to chop for an hour.
Surprising fact: by using frozen vegetables, you may be getting more nutrients than when using fresh vegetables.
Raw vegetables are picked and frozen immediately, nutrients intact, while fresh vegetables lose nutrients during shipping when exposed to heat, light and air.
Defrost a box of frozen spinach, mix in 3/4 cup of marinara sauce and a few teaspoons of grated parmesan cheese—and voila!
Spinach is a great source of potassium to counterbalance sodium and the damage it causes by helping to reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Potassium also helps to flush sodium out of the body and keep your blood vessels more elastic and pliable. Interestingly, new research shows that a spinach extract shows potential to reduce hunger and help you to lose weight. A weight loss supplement is being developed based around this.
Tammy Lakatos Shames and Lyssie Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins, are nationally recognized registered dietitians and personal trainers with more than 15 years of experience. They have helped thousands of people boost their energy naturally, get healthier, happier and into tip-top shape.
Photos: Ano Lobb, Liz West, Mary Helen Leonard, Karen, CC
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