Sunday, 15 June 2014

How to Squeeze More Veggie Servings into Your Day

I enrolled in a Healthy Habits Boot Camp early this winter, and we spent an hour each week examining our eating habits and how to make our eating healthier. Our instructor used the Canada's Food Guide, and challenged us to follow the recommendations. We were to track our meals and count the servings for each of the food groups. I figured I knew how to eat healthy, but never in my life would I guess that I was falling so short of vegetable intake. Even with my veggie box. It was dismal. So I made it my mission to get the recommended 7-8 servings of vegetables in a day.

I had to sneak greens into pretty much everything, because I think I would have gotten really sick of eating salads for every single meal.

Here are a few of the tricks I used. (I should note I am showing the pictures and linking to the recipes only to give credit, they aren't the recipes I personally use).

Skip the spaghetti noodles and use a bed of greens

The concept of putting hot tomato sauce on a bed of lettuce or spinach that wilts when it heats seems wrong, I know. But once you forgive yourself for that and try it anyway, it is good. And the more you eat it, the better it gets. Your palate changes from "This spaghetti tastes ...different" to "This is the BEST salad." See the difference there? It's no longer pasta, just a hot, spicy, tomato-saucy salad. For a mom who's wheat-free and serving three other people who aren't, it's a quick modification to a weekday meal.

This is the closest picture I could find that looked like what mine look like...I don't bother with all the fixings, just dump the spag or chili on a bed of greens and go, but for the sake of a picture, here you are:

Use Spinach in your Pasta Sauces

Wilted spinach is barely recognizable in chili or spaghetti sauces, and you can blow through 2 or 3 cups easily. If you chop it up a  bit, the pieces get so small and your kids will never know they are eating all their spinach.

Use Greens in your Stir Fry

Very similar in concept to adding them to your sauces, the wilted greens give it some different color and flavor. It doesn't hide as well as it does in the sauces, but it really is tasty. And it wilts down so small, you can throw several handfuls in and it's not too much.This picture shows just spinach and chicken, but through all your usual stir fry veg in there too.

Use Spinach in your Smoothie

There are millions of smoothie recipes online with spinach in them, so go try one. It doesn't take like spinach, I promise. A little peanut butter and some chocolate protein, and you are drinking a cold Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. You will never know you are getting spinach into your system.

Use Greens in your Quinoa

I took this recipe (or my version of it anyway) to my mother's house for a dinner one night, and everyone loved it. I was requested to bring it again the next time we had supper. It is so good... I tell everyone that I could (and have) eaten the whole pot by myself. The cranberries, the feta, it all just makes it so fantastic. My favorite hidden greens recipe by far.

I'd love to hear from others how they work at getting lots of veggies in their diets, or any other ways to hide vegetables...let me know in the comments!


  1. Fresh cut up veggies prepped at ALL times. Perfect for munching while cooking or as an extra side dish.

    1. Yes, definitely need some raw veggies to grab and go. A few weeks ago I packed my snacks (quickly, as always) with a green apple, a baggie of celery and a baggie of honeydew, and when I looked at them afterwards I realized they were all the same color. Plus one point for prep work, minus one point for wide variety of colors!