Beth Lipton is a writer and certified health coach. She is a contributing editor at Clean Plates.
News flash: Most of us could stand to eat more vegetables. Loaded with nutrients, they help with everything from energy, to disease fighting, to metabolism, glowing skin, etc. In the food world, most experts agree that vegetables are the MVP.
Sometimes it can be tough to get them in though, because life.
We’ve found that one of the best ways to get a bunch of those greens (and reds, yellows, purples) is to incorporate more of them into your lunch. Here are some strategies to help you eat more plants in the noon hour—they’re simple, tasty and designed to keep you out of the boring sandwich-and-bag-of-chips trap.
1. Swap greens for bread
Usually have a sandwich for lunch? Take those same fillings and have them on a bed of greens instead. Or, alternatively, make a wrap out of a hearty green like collards.
2. Use vegetables for dips instead of chips
Love hummus or guac or another dip at lunchtime as a meal or side? Skip the chips and use raw vegetables instead. Carrots, celery, and cucumbers are always good go-tos, but you can have some fun by mixing it up. Try jicama sticks (Trader Joe’s sells it pre-peeled and cut), snap peas, endive leaves, radishes or fennel.
3. Choose vegetable rice or noodles
Slurping up noodles and spooning up rice can be so satisfying—there’s no reason you have to give that up just to get more vegetables. You can transform all kinds of veg into rice and noodles, including cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, radishes, cucumbers, beets and more. Make it easy on yourself and buy the ready-made versions.
4. Add vegetables to tuna or chicken salad
Tuna salad is such classic lunch fare; give it an upgrade by adding lots of chopped-up vegetables. Carrots, celery (don’t forget to include the leaves), fennel, scallions—add anything you like. It’s a great way to use up bits of this and that you may have in the fridge. Instead of mayo, mash up half of an avocado and stir it in as a binder. This also works with salmon or shrimp salad, too.
5. Bump up flavor with herbs
Fresh herbs do double duty—not only do they make your vegetables taste amazing, they’re also superfoods in their own right. They’re loaded with vitamins A, C and K, as well as polyphenols with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. Use them as seasoning, of course, but also, toss whole leaves into salads and summer rolls, use them in sauces (hello, pesto), add them to drinks (mint lemonade, anyone?) and fold them into fruit salad.
Hungry for More?