I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with anyone who didn’t want to include more vegetables in their diet, and in the meals they prepare for their families. For some, it’s the time and effort of washing, peeling, and chopping that holds them back. Others can’t stand even the thought of salads. Some have picky toddlers that refuse to eat anything but peanut butter and pickles. Others find the price of high-quality produce limits how much they can serve their families. Sometimes it’s just we’re in a busy season of life and have formed some bad eating habits. Whatever the reason, I think most of us would admit that on some level, our typical diets could use an infusion of a bit more vegetable content.
That is certainly the case for me. I’m just emerging back into the land of multiple food groups from a saltine cracker and carb-filled time of morning sickness, and my own personal vegetable consumption is definitely not what it should be! So this post is really just me preaching to myself! The following are some of my own tips and tricks that I have found help my family to stay on track with a healthy, balanced diet.
Veggies on the Side
I try to serve some form of vegetables as a side dish at every single lunch and dinner. Even if I’m not in the mood for that celery, the sheer fact that it is sitting there in front of me on the table makes me more likely to eat some. I put dressing on my salads before I bring the bowl to the table at dinner time; then I’m not tempted to skip on the salad and put it back in the fridge for another time because I know it will get squishy and gross if I don’t eat it (and the frugal part of me can’t stand the thought of throwing away perfectly good salad!). I make cheese sauce to encourage my toddler to gobble up all her broccoli. I throw a cup or two of mushrooms into that gravy for delicious flavour and a little added nutritional punch. Really, though, what helps me most when it comes to increasing the vegetable content in my cooking is the convenience of Thrive Life veggies. Knowing that I don’t have to allot even a few seconds to grocery shopping, washing, peeling, chopping, or slicing, and that I can have a dozen or more veggies at my fingertips with zero worries about anything getting moldy or rotten has exponentially increased the amount of vegetables in my cooking.
Veggies as Fun Snacks
If you saw my earlier blog post about meal planning, you will know that I am a huge fan of what my meal planning system does for me and my kitchen routine. The single most effective way for me and my kids to eat more veggies as snacks is simply for me to plan that we are going to eat veggies. That sounds really, really boring, but I promise it’s not! When I plan ahead, then I could plan that we are going to eat cucumbers cut into the shape of little cars with grape tomato halves for wheels, carrot and celery sticks as the road boundaries, and Ranch dressing forming puddles to be steered around. I could plan that we’re going to snack on munchie mix, but include Thrive Life peas, corn, and sweet potato with the ever-popular fishy crackers. I could even make little tiny snack-sized vegetarian pizza buns full of bell peppers and mushrooms for us to munch on. Sometimes my most hilarious, and unexpectedly yummy (or not…) ideas for snacking on veggies come directly from my toddler!
Veggies Cleverly Concealed
When all else fails to get those veggies onboard, resort to subterfuge! Would anyone really taste that tablespoon or two of spinach or kale in the berry smoothie? You could mix a bit of that spinach into your spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce and no one would be the wiser! Did you know that ground cauliflower can be smuggled into baking? Or zucchini hidden in apple pie or apple crisp? That delicious, cheesy, meat-filled lasagna could surely benefit from a bit of butternut squash without anyone staging a protest. How about putting a little sweet potato in that pancake batter? Or putting that mushroom gravy discreetly through the blender so there are no chunks to offend your miniature food critic? Sometimes even just a new presentation, cooking style, or recipe featuring the offensive vegetable might be enough to make it acceptable to kids.
Just a cautionary note, though, my above tips are just for those trying to eat more veggies in a general sense, not for dealing with really specific or abiding food preferences. If your husband dislikes mushrooms, please don’t try to hide them in all his food because you think he should eat more vegetables! If your toddler has declared green peas to be the hill of battle upon which they will gladly die, perhaps it would be wiser to just leave the peas out for a month or two and eat carrots instead. You know your family and what works for you!
The Newest and Easiest Way
In spite of all of my tips and tricks, however, I still often find myself struggling to reach my daily quota of veggies. I may do great for a day or two, but I lack consistency to consume all those veggies day after day after day. That’s why I am so very, very excited about Thrive Life’s brand new product, Ruvi! Now, instead of struggling to get all 8-10 servings of my fruits and veggies each day, I can knock out 4 servings before I even wake up fully! Ruvi is four different drink blends, containing a total of 26 different fruits and veggies , and literally nothing else – no fiilers, no preservatives, no sugars. It also contains all the natural fibre, which I don’t think any other fruit or vegetable beverage does! It’s not juiced, it’s the whole fruit and whole veggie, freeze-dried, powdered, and blended into the perfect 4-serving package. It’s safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, and all ages from babies to seniors can enjoy it, because it literally is just fruits and vegetables and nothing else. I could not be more excited!! Check out this video to get a glimpse into the awesomeness that is Ruvi! As soon as my order arrives, I am going to be starting a 90-day Ruvi Health Challenge, so stay tuned for a post about that!
For me in my kitchen, when it comes to eating a healthy variety of vegetables in our diet, it really just comes down to making the healthy choice the easy choice. When veggies are in the fridge, chopped and prepped and ready to go, we’re a lot more likely to choose them for a snack. When I take the effort to make a variety of veggie-based side dishes that are tasty and appealing, we all enjoy it a lot more (and consume more vegetables) than if I were to just bust out some frozen mixed veggies and tell everyone to eat them because they’re healthy! (Insert another shameless plug for the benefits of meal planning here!!) When I’m consistent and my kids know that we all eat something with veggies in it for afternoon snack, they’re a lot more likely to eat their veggies and get back to playing instead of begging and pleading for cookies or junky snacks. As I said at the beginning, my record when it comes to vegetable consumption is not a spotless one, but I hope these tips and tricks (and the addition of Ruvi!) can help you (and me!) keep working on building healthy habits in our homes!
Do you have a favourite way to snack on veggies? Favourite vegetable side dish? Tips for encouraging picky eaters to enjoy vegetables? Comment below!