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I freaking love vegetables. I really do. I crave them. But before I knew how to cook, ‘healthy eating’ meant staring into endless bags of dried out baby carrots, my taste buds bored to tears…of saliva. 

One of the most common pieces of advice I give to my clients is to try and make half their plate fruit and vegetables. It’s the easiest way to boost nutrient-density, increase your intake of fibre and anti-inflammatory phyto-chemicals, stay full and satisfied and it goes with any eating plan. But how do you actually make that stick? I asked Jess Pirnak RD, my associate dietitian, to give you a whole bunch of ideas that have nothing to do with baby carrots.

Sorry about dissing baby carrots. If you like them, stay the course!

Welcome to Week 4 of #2018Elevate!

Are you ready to get energized? I know I am!

Getting more fruit and vegetables in at each meal for health is not news. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to eat more fruit and vegetables I would be a rich fancy lady by now, but unfortunately, this age old advice is harder to put into action than it sounds.

Looking for inspiration on how to do this? Look no further, and I promise you these tips will not include eating a salad at every meal. Or baby carrots! But before we jump into them, let’s talk about how much produce to buy and storage because we all hate food waste.

For this weeks challenge we are aiming for 2 cups of fruit and vegetables at each meal – that’s a lot of produce! Spend some time creating a meal plan for the week and aim to pop into the grocery store 1-3 times during the week to align the amount of food we have with our available time to cook and prepare it. If you are a once-a-week grocery shopper, then make sure you consume the produce that is most perishable first such as: dark leafy greens or mushrooms and leave the hardier produce for later in the week such as: beets, cabbage or squash. Also, buy different varieties of ripeness with produce such as bananas or avocados to allow them time to reach your desired ripeness.

Without further ado, here are 20 – count them, 20! – ways to get more fruits and vegetables into your life

  1. Make cauliflower rice
    In a food processor, pulse cauliflower to rice-size pieces and serve raw, roast on a baking sheet or stir-fry.
  2. Try spaghetti squash
    Cook the spaghetti squash and stuff it with your favourite chili recipe or scrape with a fork and use the ‘noodles’ in place of classic pasta noodles
  3. Get your spiralizer out and make zucchini noodles
    Using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, peel zucchini to make noodle-like chunks and eat as a salad or in place of classic pasta noodles
  4. Make frozen banana bites
    Slice ripe bananas and freeze on a baking sheet for a delicious snack. Bonus points: whir those bites in a food processor for a few minutes to make banana nice cream.
  5. Add vegetables to baked goods
    Try adding grated carrots, zucchini or apples to muffins or pancakes
  6. Avo your pasta sauce
    Puree an avocado with herbs, garlic and lemon juice for a different kind of pasta sauce
  7. Embrace soup weather
    Whether it is homemade or store bought, double the vegetables in any soup recipe
  8. Use chard leaves as a wrap
    Use the leaves from swiss chard or collard greens as a sandwich wrap – just blanch or microwave for 10 seconds to make the leaf more malleable
  9. Use kohlrabi or jicama as a cracker
    A slice of crunchy kohlrabi or jicama makes a great substitute for a cracker
  10. The Blend
    Chop mushrooms to match any texture of ground meat in a burger or a taco. For a more savory flavour keep the ratio to 50:50 and for lighter fare try 80% mushrooms. A great way to dip your toe into meat-free cooking!
  11. Sip on smoothies
    For a quick side dish or snack, blend a frozen banana with some berries and any nut-milk
  12. Use purees
    Add purees to any dish! Squash, cauliflower or carrot purees are delicious in burgers, stews, or pasta sauces
  13. Make veggie burgers
    Pretty self-explanatory! The store-bought varieties don’t have many veggies, try this beet walnut burger instead.
  14. Add dark leafy greens to any soup or stew
    Throw a handful of spinach with any soup or stew and wait for it to’ll never know it is there
  15. Add steamed or sautéd vegetables to oatmeal
    Savoury oatmeal is a very good thing…try this.
  16. Snack on kale chips
    Not exactly the same thing as a kale salad, but close 😉
  17. Make root vegetable fries
    Parsnips roasted with garlic and rosemary is probably my favourite root vegetable fry
  18. Try a pumpkin marinara sauce
    Adding pureed pumpkin to a tomato sauce seems crazy, but it works
  19. Make a veggie-packed tomato sauce
    When making a classic tomato sauce, veg it up with diced carrots, celery, peppers, zucchini, cauliflower or peas
  20. Add fresh herbs such as parsley to everything

What are your favourite ways to get more veg in? Let us know over on Facebook!

Photo Credit: Melissa Quantz