5 Ways to Add More Plant Foods to Your Diet
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of salads. If I see one more piece of romaine lettuce, I might scream. It’s tough trying to eat a diet rich in fruits and veggies when it feels endlessly repetitive and ridiculously boring. We all know that incorporating plant foods into our diets is important, but why is that? And how can we spice up the typical fruits and veggies to make them interesting and delicious? Read on to find out.
Why should we be eating more plant foods?
Since we were kids, we’ve been force-fed broccoli with the promise that it’ll help us grow big and strong. And as adults, nutritionists and metabolic coaches are singing the same tune–more fruits, more veggies, no arguments. So what is it about these plants that makes them so essential to our nutrition? The answer is micronutrients.
Macronutrients are the larger groupings for food–protein, fat, and carbs. Micronutrients are the smaller chemical compounds like vitamins and minerals. Micronutrients are essential for a lot of the daily processes your body needs to function properly and keep you healthy. Getting the proper amount of micronutrients not only can help you reach your fitness goals, but are necessary just to keep you alive. Diets with plenty of fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of heart disease, strokes, and cancer, lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, and yes, help you lose weight.
So, okay, we need to eat our fruits and vegetables. But the typical ways to amp up the veggie intake–salads–can get really boring, really fast. And if sustainable, healthy habits that you can stick to are the goal, boring just won’t cut it. You need to incorporate meals and even snacks into your diet that’ll excite you and make you reach for seconds.
So let’s get hyped for micros with these totally not-boring ways to spice up your meals.
Exciting Ways to Add Micronutrients to Your Diet
One of the easiest ways to add some veg to your diet is to swap foods you already love with veggie alternatives. Instead of the occasional pasta, spiralize some veggies–you can use squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes; throw your favorite sauce on top, and indulge in a more nutritious ‘noodles’. Ricing veggies is also a great way to add those micronutrients, and cauliflower is a favorite rice substitute in stir fry and rice bowls, with other veggies and protein.
Mix Up Your Proteins
Protein is an important part of your diet, and should be present at every meal, but grilled chicken can start to feel old after a while. There are lots of ways to diversify your protein, and find some plant-based options.Tofu and tempeh, both made from soybeans, are high in protein, and make great occasional substitutes for meat in your meals. Tofu can be prepared countless ways and seasoned to fit any palette or cuisine. Tempeh makes a great beef crumble substitute, faux-bacon, or base for veggie meatballs. Try either of these plant-based heroes in your next dish and give your taste buds something to sing about.
Make Veggies the Star of Your Meals
We often follow the same formula with every meal, and banish our veggies as solely a side dish. To make things interesting, once in a while make the veggies the star, and center your dish on the plants! Along with your protein source, there are tons of options for veggie-centric meals that’ll allow you to diversify your vegetables and get in those micronutrients. A veggie stir fry, veggie sushi roll, veggie taco, or even sizzling fajitas are all great options to highlight and celebrate veggies. These options can be mixed with chicken, fish, or even tofu or tempeh for a well-balanced meal that celebrates veggies once in a while.
Breakfast can be a challenging place to add more fruits and vegetables, but it’s one of the most important. And if you typically skip breakfast–don’t! Starting your day off with lots of vitamins, minerals, and protein will keep you nourished and motivated for the rest of the day. In your usual omelette, add the veggies you’d typically reserve for dinner–spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, or tomatoes. If you’re usually a protein smoothie drinker, experiment with blending in some greens like kale or spinach to add some extra vitamins to your shakes. These swaps are sure to have you craving breakfast before you even go to bed!
What About Snacks?
Some weight loss advice will tell you to skip snacks altogether. But having a couple small snacks–especially plant-focused snacks–can help keep your appetite in check and keep you fueled between meals, all while incorporating more micronutrients. A handful of nuts, or a spoonful of organic, low-sugar nut butter–peanut isn’t your only option, have you tried almond butter?–can be a great option if you’re in a hurry or need a quick bite. If making your own snack is more your style, homemade veggie chips are a great way to get the satisfying crunch of a chip that’s healthier for you. Pair it with your favorite protein source and you’ve got veggie chip nachos. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, dried fruit makes a great snack that you don’t have to keep in the fridge. Just be sure you’re minding your sugar intake. You could even enjoy a mid-day smoothie blended with greens and some whey protein for even more nutrients and protein!
It’s easier than ever to add more plant foods to your diet, and keep your nutrition balanced, all while enjoying amazing food. For more tips for including whey protein into your diet, click here!