Diabetes Forecast

No More Vegetable Excuses

Solutions to common vegetable challenges

By Lara Hamilton, RD, CDE


Here are some tips to help you overcome common vegetable challenges:

#1: No Veggies in the House

Eating more vegetables starts with buying more vegetables. That means spending more time in the produce, canned food, and frozen vegetable sections of your store or market (or growing them, if you have garden space). Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh vegetables and can be prepared quickly. Canned vegetables, especially reduced-sodium or no-salt-added, are also great to have on hand.

The second part of the solution—which adds to your health while helping you balance your grocery budget—is to buy fewer unhealthy processed foods. This way, when you are hungry or ready to prepare a meal, you have veggies (and fruit) to choose from instead of unhealthy packaged foods.

For convenience, many stores offer fresh, ready-to-eat vegetables that have been washed and chopped. These are likely to cost more than unprepared vegetables, but certainly save you time. Veggie trays can be used for a few days as a source of ready-to-eat vegetables.

#2: Vegetables Go Bad Before I Eat Them

When you base meals on Diabetes Plate Method, you will use vegetables more frequently and more quickly after purchasing them. Actually, you might find that you need to make an extra, quick trip to the grocery or produce store to stock up on a few more veggies.

#3: Vegetables Are Hard to Prepare

Raw veggies can be eaten by themselves or with a side of hummus. You can purchase some vegetables already washed and chopped in the produce section of the grocery stores. Frozen vegetables cook in minutes in the microwave. Other easy cooking methods for vegetables include steaming them in a small amount of water, grilling them, and roasting them in the oven.

#4: Vegetables Don't Taste Good

You might find that the more processed foods you remove from your diet, the more your taste buds will appreciate fresh vegetables. Certain cooking methods can bring out more flavor in vegetables. For example, roasting vegetables such as asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, and cauliflower with a little olive oil at 400 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes brings out the sweetness and creates a little bit of crisp browning. Grilling does the same thing, plus adds a smoky touch. Also add some zing or crunch with a light sprinkle of lemon zest, a little grated Parmesan cheese, or toasted nuts.

#5: It's Hard to Fill 1/2 My Plate With Veggies

If you are having trouble meeting your veggie goal, try adding a side salad to a meal along with cooked vegetables. When making a soup recipe, add double the amount of nonstarchy vegetables that the recipe lists. Make large batches of roasted vegetables. Mix veggies with scrambled eggs or make a fruit smoothie that includes spinach or kale.



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