The Gateway Vegetables
4 habits to start and 5 veggies to start with on your side
Carla Rae Nowicki, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS
Every good quality, healthy diet has some sort of vegetables included in it. There are usually a couple reasons why vegetables get avoided even as an adult. You know they are good for you, but you don’t put them as a food priority. Sometimes the veggie avoidance starts young. Chances are if you weren’t taught to like them as a kid, you still don’t love them. Texture complexes can also lead to veggie hesitations. Both of these can be changed! Here are some quick easy tips to prioritizing hard working nutrients for fuel.
1. Make them a part of every meal. I don’t care how much of what kind. Get in the mindset through practice that a meal means it has a Carbohydrate, Protein, Fat, and Vegetable source in it to be complete. And YES, breakfast is a meal. Even if it is 1 small cherry tomato, or one baby carrot. Make it a habit. Throw a few leaves of dark leafies into your eggs or smoothie. Grab a handful of raw veggies as you walk out the door to eat on the way to work. Whatever it takes, just eat one.
2. Start with vegetables that don’t have a strong flavor and have a crunchy texture. Mushier vegetables can be hard to like for individuals with texture issues. Habits stick when you see a benefit. If you hate something, it wont last long.
3. Always have grab and go veggies and quick prep veggies on hand. Don’t let yourself be victim to lack of preparation. Get used to picking up some easy to grab baby bell peppers, carrots, pre cut veggies, sugar snap peas, or celery when you go to the store. If time isn’t on your side, it still doesn’t get to be your scapegoat. Having a stash of frozen microwavable or quick cook vegetables can also help at meal times. If you want something warm, 3-5 minutes in the microwave is an easy fix.
4. Keep an open mind and you have to try it. Just like kids, you do have to try something about 6-10 times before you can say you don’t like it. Anything new your body will automatically have a harder time with. The more you eat something, the more you are going to like it. If you have tried it a lot and still don’t like it, move on and try another one. There are hundreds of vegetables to try. You just need to find ones you want.
Baby kale/spinach- mix in with a salad you like, even if its iceburg or throw into a shake in small amounts. Gradually grow into adding more and more of the healthy greens.
Cherry tomatoes- these little guys are sweet and easy to grab without cooking. Great grab and go.
Cucumber slices- have by themselves. They do not have a strong flavor and have a refreshing crisp that can also be thirst quenching.
Baby carrots- even as a kid these guys weren’t that bad. They have a great crunch and great for some afternoon snacking.
Bell peppers- either strips or baby whole ones can be a great start. They are generally very sweet if you get a red, yellow or orange pepper.