Written by Jackie “Lynn” Stevenson BS, DTR
Good day! Today is National Eat Your Veggies Day, a day for nutrition professionals to rejoice!
The point of this national day is to bring attention to the dietary need for vegetables. As I’m sure you’ve heard, veggies are a great source of a variety of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, all of which are a requirement for optimal health.
The USDA’s dietary guidelines recommend getting at least 5 servings of vegetables per day. One serving equals 1 cup of raw vegetables, or 1/2 cup cooked vegetables.
One thing to ask before wildly consuming your veggies today…
“Is this vegetable considered a vegetable or a starch?”
Starchy vegetables including potato, sweet potato, corn, peas, butternut squash, spaghetti squash and the like should really be considered a carbohydrate. Although we would rather see you getting your carbohydrates from these starchy roots and tubers, they need to be consumed in moderation, just like any other starch (pasta, breads, rice). Keep these starches to about 1/2 cup at a time. The professionals at Bordeaux Nutrition can help you determine how many servings of these starches is appropriate for your diet.
Non-starchy vegetables should be eaten abundantly, and, we suggest, even more than the USDA recommends. Try to get 2-3 servings with lunch and dinner, and add to breakfast and snacks when able. With farmers markets starting up for the season, getting your servings in should be a breeze! Here are some easy ideas to get your fill…
Bulk up your current go-to meals by adding an extra side of veggies, or throwing them right in the recipe. Tomato sauces or casseroles are my favorite places to add extra greens, especially spinach and kale. They tend to cook down and disappear into the recipe. Create more substance and flavor in your sauces by adding chopped mushrooms, onions, zucchini or yellow squash, green peppers, eggplant or broccoli. Don’t like the bulk? Blend them before adding to the mix. If you’re really dedicated, try spiralizing zucchini in place of spaghetti noodles.
Add to fruit smoothies: Fruit smoothies are great, but they could be even better if you throw in some veggies. Start slow if that sounds gross to you. Spinach will turn the mix green, but doesn’t significantly change the flavor.
Summer wraps and burgers: Try switching out the traditional hamburger bun for a grilled portabello mushroom or grilled eggplant. Replace your burger bun or tortilla wrap with lettuce.
Snacks: Pack celery and carrot sticks to dip in hummus or other dip. Make ‘ants on a log‘ for kids. Chop tomatoes and cucumbers and marinate in Italian dressing.
In season right now: Leafy greens including lettuce, spinach, swiss chard and kale. These cool season veggies are peaking now. These veggies can easily be incorporated in salads. Add some fresh seasonal strawberry for a splash of color and flavor. See recipe here! Kale and spinach are also great to add to tomato sauces, or simply sauteed in some olive oil.