By Matthew Devick
Eating vegetables is essential to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, half of your plate should be composed of fruits and vegetables. For me, vegetables weren’t always the first thing I reached for to satisfy my hunger. Thanks to the encouragement of my loving and health-conscious spouse, I’ve been exposed to the wide world of veggies. And now I can truly say that I don’t like veggies; I love them.
Although I have a “sweet tooth” for veggies now, I must confess that it wasn’t always so. There are practical things I’ve done to incorporate them into my life, making them more soul-satisfying than any junk food ever could be.
Tip No. 1: Dippin’ veggies
Why not keep some cut-up veggies and dip in the fridge for snack time? It’s much better for you than my old arch-nemesis, the ever salty and super villainous fatty duo of potato chips and dip. Of course, make sure you dip in moderation — many dips and salad dressings are exceedingly high in fat. My favorite veggie dip is hummus, which includes chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, tahini (sesame paste), garlic, salt and lemon juice. Although somewhat high in fat, it contains no saturated fats or cholesterol and can be a good alternative to traditional sour cream dips. So banish the chips and bring on the veggies and healthy dip!
Tip No. 2: Go for salad
With your dinner every night, include a nice green salad. Every night. Consider it your appetizer. Buy a package of mixed greens to keep in the fridge. No chopping or any of that stuff, just pour your greens in a bowl and — presto — instant salad. Remember, the darker the green, the more nutritious the salad. So pass up the iceberg lettuce and go instead for other varieties that contain things like spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, mustard greens and more. Of course, take it easy on the salad dressing or use a low-fat version. My personal favorite is olive oil and vinegar.
Tip No. 3: Chop ’em in
My wife is a pro at this and so I can’t take any credit for this one. If she’s boiling up some pasta she’ll chop up something to mix in with it, like broccoli, carrots or zucchini. If you shred these last two up really fine you hardly notice they’re even there. Chili is a great place to sneak in some vegetables. Hiding nutritious food in your entrees is a concept that’s been coined “The Sneaky Chef” after a book by the same name by Missy Chase Lapine. Check out her books and recipes at www.thesneakychef.com. She also has a blog where she shares recipes and healthy tips. There are endless ways you can bring healthy vegetables into your daily diet — without hardly noticing.
Matthew Devick is a multimedia developer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota. For more information, visit www.BCBSND.com.