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Not fond of veggies? Or just looking for creative ideas to add more vegetables to your menu to get to that five-times-a-day recommendation? We have 10 creative, fresh ideas for eating more vegetables!
I’m always on the lookout for ways to add veggies to our meals. This works out well with my growing passion for vegetable gardening (despite being in a two–person household).
A few years back, my adult daughter moved to a toney Virginia suburb, where she found it challenging to live on her modest salary. One evening, the phone rang. “Exciting news, Mom! I finally found a fresh vegetable that I can afford here—a gigantic bag of kale for only 99 cents! It will last me a whole week.”
I wondered why the kale was priced so modestly, when a head of broccoli in the same store cost $2.50. She replied, “Well, I don’t think that people actually eat much kale around here. The bag was labeled ‘Decorative Greens.’ I guess they figure that people only use them around the edges of serving platters.”
5 or More Vegetables a Day
It’s not only healthy to eat more vegetables, but also research shows it’s beneficial to eat a wider variety of vegetables (and fruit). As a gardener, I enjoy trying new crops and varieties.
Sadly, only about a quarter of American adults eat the once-recommended three servings of vegetables a day. And the current recommendations up the daily dose to five or more vegetables!
Many folks can’t muster much enthusiasm for vegetables other than potatoes. So let’s explore how to enjoy vegetables with some fresh ideas.
10 Fresh Ideas for Veggies
Here are some suggestions for getting more vegetables into your menus:
Try roasting! It will change your mind about vegetables forever. Onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash (all with skins intact), asparagus, peppers, carrots, parsnips—if you’ve eaten these vegetables only steamed or boiled, you haven’t begun to enjoy their flavors. Roasting deepens and improves the flavors of almost any sturdy vegetable.
Main-dish salsa. Chop lots of fresh tomatoes, green and red peppers (hot, if you like them), a bit of raw onion and minced garlic, and herbs and spices to taste. Serve hot or cold, topped with a few spicy black beans, cold chicken, or a wedge of cheese.
Extra lettuce? Steam or stir-fry outer lettuce leaves or a handful of mild mesclun mix with stronger-flavor kale, collards, or chard.
Salad for breakfast? Try this one day: a whole sliced beet, a chopped hard-boiled egg, a serving of berries, and sliced melon or orange sections, topped with a splash of honey mustard dressing.
Winter squash smoothie. If you love pumpkin pie, try this quick breakfast or anytime smoothie. Blend a cup of cooked winter squash (or pumpkin), a cup of plain or vanilla yogurt, a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey, and pumpkin pie spice to taste. Add milk to thin if needed. Variations include adding half a frozen banana or half a cored pear.
Love pickles? Create a “perpetual pickles” crock for summer snacking. This is especially good if you have a large vegetable garden, but useful even it you don’t. Partially fill a large jar or small crock with half water and half vinegar, a few peeled garlic cloves, a few sprigs of fresh dillweed, and pickling salt to taste. Toss in small cucumbers, peppers, tiny onions, baby carrots, cauliflower florets, and/or green beans. Keep it on a kitchen shelf and snack from it at will. Add new vegetables every day or two. Discard the old brine and make a fresh one every 2 or 3 weeks. (Use the discarded brine for household cleaning.)
Try a new spice mixture. You could try making baharat, a Middle Eastern/North African mixture of sweet, warm, and resinous spices and herbs that comes in many regional variations and goes with everything. We especially love it on bean/grain dishes that incorporate a lot of chopped greens. Another Mideast favorite, za’atar, transforms vegetables and pretty much everything else. The sumac listed as a major za’atar ingredient is none other than the dried red berries of the staghorn sumac that grows in dry waste places around here as a weed.
The classic vegetables-as-pasta trick. Shredded carrots make a fantastic no-carb substitute for pasta. Zoodles (zucchini noodles) is another pasta alternative. Unless you buy them ready-made, you will need a “spiralizer.” Carrots are much firmer but zucchini holds a lot of water so only cook 3 to 5 minutes and strain out the water.
Now back to that kale. If you think kale sounds like rabbit food, try this salad which is an all-time favorite at a General Store in town. It sells out quickly and they’ve kindly given the recipe to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Here it is: Kale Salad With Cranberry, Feta and Walnuts.