How to Eat More Vegetables + 10 make-ahead recipes - The Living Well

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How to Eat More Vegetables + 10 make-ahead recipes

roasted vegetables with eggs

You know you need to eat more vegetables but how? Let me give you the easy way to eat more vegetables, plus 10 make-ahead veggie recipes.

It’s that time of year, or is it always that time of year? The time when you know, you should be eating more vegetables, but you find yourself dreading the thought of it.

In my dream world, I’d be eating pizza and dinner rolls, and pretzels dipped in cheese. While I still love those things, I don’t love the bloat they bring. I need more vibrancy than that, which is why we all need vegetables.

I don’t need to remind you what would happen if you actually ate more vegetables. The question is not if you should but how to do it. And not just do it but enjoy it?

The last thing I want is for you to force yourself into a state of eating foods you hate. Science proves the only way you’ll stick to it is if you enjoy it.

That’s why I thought I’d show you how to eat more vegetables a day and enjoy it.

Here’s a fun fact on taste buds. They are constantly changing. This means, if you start with vegetables that you like over time you’ll be more apt to like other vegetables. Ones you used to not like all because your taste preferences change based on what you eat and how nutrified your system is.

The goal is not to just eat more vegetables but enjoy the taste and process.

How to Eat More Vegetables a Day

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the key to eating more vegetables a day is to enjoy the process of eating them. You desire good-tasting food, which should be the goal of any healthy meal. Make it taste good.

This also happens to be the reason why people don’t eat more vegetables. They’re boring, bland, and undesirable.

I can tell you, I actually crave vegetables because I’ve found ways to eat them that I like, even love. While I can’t say, I’d pick any one vegetable as my last meal on earth, that would undoubtedly be pizza. But more than my love of vegetables, I love the way they make me feel. And this is the real reason we eat more vegetables, the benefit they provide to our body.

Here are some tips on how to make vegetables more appealing, leaving you wanting more.

Tip 01: Don’t Neglect The Starchy Vegetables.

Starchy vegetables like potatoes have taken a backseat to health in a world fixated on low-carb. But you shouldn’t neglect these foods. One, they’re still a vegetable loaded with nutrients our body craves. Two, they provide so much satiety to our system, including a dose of carbohydrates our body needs for energy.

Eat the potato, the sweet potato, and mix in winter squash. All of them provide a heartiness that increases satiety and desire.

Tip 02: Add Healthy Fats.

Vegetables contain nutrients, and these nutrients need support to get absorbed and mobilized inside the body. This support comes from fat. At least in the case of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. Making fat a healthy addition to any vegetable variety.

Saute veggies in avocado oil or drizzle your salad with olive oil. Add melted butter or sliced avocado. Or try dipping or tossing them in a creamy salad dressing.

Tip 03: Spice Them Up.

Most vegetables don’t come with a lot of flavors, leaving plenty of room for you to flavor them based on your preferences. Hit the spice cabinet for your favorite flavor profiles to make vegetables something you enjoy.

One of my favorite spices to add to vegetables is cinnamon. Especially to roasted squash, sweet potatoes and even cauliflower. It amplifies the sweetness.

Tip 04: Eat What’s In Season.

There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a garden-fresh tomato. Or a garden-fresh anything. That’s because ripe produce, grown locally always comes with the best flavor. The truth is, no matter how amazing the produce item is, like mangos or oranges or apples, if it’s not ripe it will taste horrible.

The same holds true for produce items sitting on your grocery store shelves that aren’t in season. They don’t have the same vibrancy or flavor. So opt for the seasonal varieties and if all else fails, buy it frozen.

Tip 05: Heat Them Up.

Contrary to popular belief, cooking vegetables or warming them doesn’t suck all of the nutrients from them. They’re still a vegetable and worthy of eating. In fact, many people actually digest and absorb the nutrients from vegetables better in a warmed or cooked state than raw. Especially in the case of people who struggle with good gut flora.

Don’t discount a pan of roasted vegetables or sauteeing them in a pan. The warmth adds satiety and the cooking takes away the bitterness and amplifies the sweetness. I prefer a skillet salad any day to a raw one.

Tip 06: Think in Layers.

Like any good wardrobe, food is better in layers. The same with vegetables. When you eat one, layer other ones to enhance the flavor. A salad is a perfect example. Don’t stop at a bed of lettuce, but add cucumbers, chopped tomatoes, and bell peppers. Think layer after layer.

Tip 07: Don’t Overthink It.

We tend to overthink everything in the health space. Wondering how many vegetables you should be eating and what’s a serving. I understand the health world has made you feel like this information is valuable, but the real MVP is choosing to eat more. However many or little that is. Don’t overthink it. The stress of this takes the benefit out of it.

Start with breakfast.

Eating more vegetables has always boiled down to my choice of breakfast. While I’m not perfect at it, I’ve found my breakfast sets the stage for my day. Most days, I aim to eat some kind of vegetable-rich meal. I’ve even found ways to add veggies to oats and load my morning smoothie with them.

When all else fails, I’ll run back to a greens powder. But my focus is still and always will be the real deal.

Let’s get practical, here are some of my favorite vegetable-rich go-to breakfast ideas:

Don’t have time? No problem!

I get it, time is a factor. All of this sounds great, but where’s the time. No one has time for this. Honestly, I don’t either. Between the hustle of getting myself ready for the day and three little girls, there is no time. That’s why I rely on batch-cooking veggies. It’s a game-changer – taking the work out of breakfast and creating simple solutions to fill up on all my go-to’s.

Batch cooking happens to be my simple solution to meal prep. When you don’t have time to cook full meals or even when I do have time and don’t have the desire {because it’s SO MUCH WORK}, you can still make this system work by batching simple ingredients.

One pan of roasted sweet potatoes goes a long way.

Eat more vegetables with these tips!

This week, try batch cooking your vegetables.

  1. Pick 2-3 vegetables you love or want to add to your diet.
  2. Prep them: chop them, slice them, bake them, or saute them. 
  3. Store in the refrigerator to be used all week long.

You can get my go-to batch-cooked vegetable recipes (and everything else) inside my seasonal Meal Prep Guides. It’s a game-changer and truly the only reason I actually eat vegetables.

GET THE MEAL PREP GUIDES HERE!

To get you started, here are 10 of my favorite make-ahead vegetable ideas to batch ahead.

01: Crispy Homemade Sweet Potato Fries

sweet potato fries

Crispy Homemade Sweet Potato Fries

  • 4 medium sweet potato fries
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Peel and slice sweet potatoes into thick fries.
  3. Add to a bowl and toss with oil and seasonings (except salt).
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and flip fries.
  5. Put back in the oven and continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until crispy.
  6. Remove and salt generously.

02: The Best Kale Salad

kale salad

The Best Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch kale, cut out ribs and chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Chop kale.
  2. Mix lemon juice through salt and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Pour over kale and massage into kale for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Cover and let sit (preferably overnight).
  5. Before serving add almonds and parmesan.

03: Roasted Breakfast Potatoes

breakfast potatoes

Roasted Breakfast Potatoes

  • 1 lb mini potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic and herb seasoning mix
  • Salt & pepper
  • Butter (or garlic ghee)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 6 soft or hard boiled eggs, halved or quartered
  1. Clean potatoes, dry and place in a large bowl.
  2. Toss whole potatoes with olive oil, garlic and herb seasoning and salt and pepper.
  3. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender.
  5. Remove and smash with a potato masher.
  6. Too with a few slices of butter, additional, salt and pepper and some Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melts and potatoes are crispy.
  8. Add soft or hard boiled eggs.

04: Sauteed Peppers and Onions

Recipe from Isabel eats

sautéed onions and peppers
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 4 medium bell peppers, sliced into long strips
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

Get the full recipe here!

05: Spiralized Sweet Potatoes or Squash

spiralized sweet potatoes

Spiralized Sweet Potatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. Wash and dry sweet potatoes. Cut off each end to make a flat surface to attach to the prongs of the spiralizer.
  3. Secure spiralizer to the counter top with the designated suction cups and clamps and attach the potato, centered and parallel to the countertop. Be sure to place the larger end on the prongs.
  4. Twist the handle to make the spiralized potatoes.
  5. Drizzle sweet potato fries with avocado oil and lightly toss to coat. Sprinkle the herbs & seasonings on top.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

06: Texas Caviar

Recipe inside Summer Meal Prep Guide

texas caviar

Texas Caviar

  • 1 cup red onion, minced
  • 2 cans black eye peas, drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 3 cups corn, frozen or canned
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Summer Meal Prep Guide

  1. In a large bowl mix together all ingredients.
  2. Toss and let refrigerate for 2-hours before serving.

07: Kale Caesar Salad

Recipe from Fall Meal Prep Guide

caesar salad

Kale Caesar Salad

  • 1 large head kale, shredded
  • 4 cups shredded brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Chop kale and Brussels Sprouts and mix in a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour desired amount on kale and brussels sprouts and massage in.
  4. Top with parmesan cheese and additional toppings.

08: Casar Spinach Pasta Salad

caesar pasta salad

Caesar Spinach Pasta Salad

  • 6-8 cups spinach, chopped
  • 8 oz bow-tie pasta, cooked {I used gluten-free}
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled
  • 1 cup Caesar Dressing {I used Drew’s Salad Dressing}
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Basil {optional}
  1. Cook pasta according to directions. Strain and rinsed once finished.
  2. Meanwhile, chop spinach and add to a large bowl.
  3. Halve or quarter cherry tomatoes and slice and quarter cucumber into small pieces.
  4. Add to spinach salad along with cooked pasta.
  5. Toss with salad dressing.
  6. Top with parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil {optional}.

09: Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

Recipe from Summer Meal Prep Guide

bruschetta

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta

  • 8 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  1. In a bowl toss diced tomatoes, chopped basil, shredded parmesan cheese, garlic, balsamic and olive oil. 
  2. Add in salt and pepper to taste.

10: Roasted Vegetables

Recipe from Damn Delicious

roasted vegetables

Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped butternut squash
  • 1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced and quartered
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, or more, to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Get the full recipe here!

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