It’s pretty common knowledge that vegetables are important in your diet. Recently though, there’s a great deal of evidence that suggests vegetables are even more important. Cancer prevention, Alzheimer’s prevention, weight loss, you name it. The MyPlate visual suggesting half your plate be fruits/veggies is a perfect example of how you can immediately determine if you’re getting enough produce in your life. If you’d rather have your left foot cut off than eat a green bean though (Umm… this actually happens. Hello, diabetes.), it takes more than just knowing you need more veggies to make it happen.
I spent most of my college years microwaving bags of frozen vegetables to accompany my dinner entrees. And gross. If you’re happy eating plain microwaved frozen veggies, I salute you, my friend. For those of us who need more encouragement (yep, even the dietitian here), there are a ton of ways to prepare veggies in a more appealing way. Since discovering all these alternative methods of veg-prep, I’m obsessed with vegetables. OBSESSED. Can you say that you genuinely enjoy vegetables? Either way, the recipes below will rock your socks off.
The days of mushy, bland Brussels Sprouts are over and done. Sautéed with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, cheese, and garlic, Gaby’s recipe may actually lead to children liking this veggie. It’s a wild world.
This isn’t your grandmother’s cabbage. I literally consume half a cabbage every time I make this. With it’s loooong list of antioxidants and low calorie level (less than 25 calories per cup), I don’t feel guilty for shoveling it in while standing over the stove. Plus, it’s one of the quickest side dishes to prep. Rinse, slice, drizzle, sprinkle, roast.
Broccoli never tasted so divine. It’s one of the only vegetables I’m happy with simply boiled, but this. This. I can’t. You just need to try it.
If you’ve only enjoyed mushrooms on your extra cheesy pizza, it’s time to branch out. Prepared properly, these babies are insanely flavorful and “meaty”. Make sure you follow these mushroom-prep tips from Bon Appetit to prevent a flavorless, too-chewy result. Remember that scene from Julie and Julia? “Don’t overcrowd the mushrooms!”
Meat isn’t the only thing to put on the grill. Zucchini and eggplant (recipe #10) are my favorite veggies to grill up on a nice day. You could always sub a bit of olive oil for the butter in this recipe from Damn Delicious, if you’d like.
Have you noticed a trend here?
Orange Roasting is the new black. Probably because it makes everything taste 1000000x better. And it’s easy. I add foil to my baking sheets before roasting veggies for even quicker clean-up. For this recipe, Jen suggests using frozen green beans – a wise money-saving tip, and great for the winter months when green beans aren’t in season. Truth be told, I’ve only tried roasting fresh… but give frozen a shot!
Well surprise, surprise. Martha’s done it again. Beet-sceptics, it’s time to surrender. Not only do beets have great flavor when prepared correctly, but they’re packed with antioxidants like betalain, as well as folate (can I get a “woop woop” from my preggo ladies?). Like many roasted veg recipes, this one takes a while (give yourself about an hour) to cook. But much like red beans and rice, it’s a “set-it-and-forget-it” sitch. Chop these babies in the morning and pop ’em in the oven when you get home. By the time you’re done feeding and walking the dogs, wrangling the kids, and putting on some comfy clothes, they’ll be ready to go.
As if we need any more reason to worship sweet potatoes. One of my favorite thrown-together lunches is a sweet potato microwaved and topped with butter and brown sugar. YUM. To mix it up though, try Karina’s crispy (rejoice!) version of sweet potato wedges. Plus, it’s an excuse to dip something in an avocado-containing concoction.
Cauliflower is hot right now. And of all things nutrition-related that are hot right now, this one is actually a plus for humanity! Whether you mash them like potatoes, chop them up to resemble cous cous or grits, or just roast them, they’re great for Vitamin C, folate, and isothiocyanates (which could be what contribute to the cancer-preventing properties of cruciferous veggies). If you’re not living up Thoth Sunday in New Orleans, these would be a perfect addition to your Super Bowl menu.
Last, but not least, eggplant is one of those “meaty” veggies that is easy to sub for burgers, filets of meat, etc. It’s probably served most as eggplant parmesan – who’s ever met a food that wasn’t great smothered in cheese and marinara? But this is a bit of a healthier, unique option to mix things up.
There you have it. No excuses for not making half your plate vegetables! For more recipe ideas, follow me on Pinterest. And don’t forget, I’m always here to answer your food and nutrition-related questions!