Eating a variety of fresh foods is a great way to ensure your body is getting well-rounded nutrition. What better food than vegetables to deliver many of these much needed nutrients?
But wait, aren't vegetables boring, tasteless, and unsatisfying?
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If your vegetable preparation relies on the microwave, it's time to expand your options to get more out of these powerhouse foods.
Use your blender. Smoothies are a great way to make a quick breakfast or snack. A fruit and veggie smoothie tastes great and is even better for you.
If you're new to smoothies, add the following to your blender: 2 cups fresh spinach, ½ banana, ¾ cup frozen mixed berries, ¼ cup sunflower or flaxseeds, and 1-2 cups of water or coconut water.
This nutrient-dense shake packs more punch than any breakfast bar or cereal. Enjoy the smoothie by itself, as a snack or have it with a side of eggs or lean meat for a well-rounded breakfast.
Include a vegetable in at least one of your daily snacks. Cherry tomatoes, snow peas, baby carrots, celery, and peppers are great grab-and-go snacks that add nutrients without adding extra calories. Pair them up with some hummus, Greek yogurt, or almond butter to add more flavor.
Have a side salad with your lunch. Rather than having a typical appetizer or bread before lunch, have a fresh salad with a variety of vegetables as a healthy alternative. Cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, zucchini, onions, arugula, spinach, and romaine taste great in a fresh salad. Choose a healthy dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette or just add olive oil and spices.
Double up your vegetables for dinner rather than having a starch such as rice or potatoes. Two servings of veggies along with a quality protein source is a well-balanced meal that doesn't load you down with calories at the end of the day when you're least active.
When choosing your two vegetables, pick two different colors -- such as broccoli and parsnips. The more color variety, the better.
Learn how to cook and be creative. It's amazing how many great dishes include vegetables, you just have to take the time and learn the skills to create healthy options.
Foods such as meatloaf, burgers, meatballs, and casseroles can have grated zucchini, chopped spinach, or diced peppers baked right into them.
Baking and grilling vegetables can really bring out the natural flavors and make for a great meal. For example, asparagus and chopped peppers grilled on a cedar plank with a bit of coconut oil and spices will really wake up your taste buds. Pair with a grilled salmon filet and you have a meal that will truly satisfy.
So start adding more vegetables to your diet and move one step closer to taking control of your health.
For a delicious tropical smoothie recipe and other nutrition tips, visit PushFitnessTraining.com for a link to our Facebook page.
• Joshua Steckler is the owner of Push Fitness, a personal training studio located in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning, and nutrition. Contact him at PushFitnessTraining.com.