Pig Out…On Veggies!!

Farmers Markets are in full bloom and more seasonal foods are starting to pop up on the grocery shelves.  I got an awesome deal on organic raspberries so I bought a ton and froze them by spreading them out on a cookie sheet and then transferring to a large container.  I’ve been stocking up on veggies at the market as well, and our lettuces are in full bloom!

Now is the perfect time to jump on the veggie van!  With farmers markets and fresh produce stands popping up all around, buy in bulk and freeze or can foods while they’re at the peak of their season!

Whether from our mother, teacher, or personal trainer, we’ve heard it our whole life: Eat your Vegetables!  Unfortunately the term “vegetable” can bring not only a negative connotation; the image of the plain and poorly cooked barrier between us and dessert can be hard to stomach!

Today, however, is the day to mend your stressed relationship with vegetables!

We all know vegetables are good for us, but knowing that small tidbit is typically not enough to make us eat the recommended servings per day.  What if you could begin to realize that vegetables provide AMAZING benefits not only to your weight loss goals but also to your overall health, AND there’s no limit on how many you can eat, would that appeal to you?  
Vegetables are unique in that they are low in calories yet high in fiber and nutrients, making them an excellent choice for weight loss and overall health.  Your body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals each day for proper metabolic function, hormone and muscle control, and all-around good health.  By eating foods that are rich in these nutrients you are helping your body “get back on track”.  It’s not enough to just take a vitamin supplement or eat processed foods that have fortified vitamins.  “Phytonutrients” are beneficial chemical compounds found in vegetables and fruits.  We do not yet know all the implications they have on health, but we do know they are beneficial and help prevent disease; you’ll only find them in WHOLE FOODS!  Vegetables are especially nutritious and cleansing to the body and help clear out the “junk” and damage that has been done to it.  By eating more nutritious foods you will decrease cravings for unhealthy foods because your body is getting what it needs for optimal health!  If you starve your body (especially of nutrients) you will only crave more food and relapse long term. 
Instead of restricting, learn to replace. 

Find Freedom in Eating Unlimited Servings of Vegetables!  Replacement Suggestions:

·         Pasta and Tomato Sauce Replace with Roasted Spaghetti Squash, Peppers, Onions, Tomato Sauce 
·         Taco Shells, Tortilla, or Nacho Chips and cheese Replace with Lettuce or collard green Wrap or Salad Greens and Avocado 
·         Lasagna Noodles Replace with Zucchini or Eggplant Slices 
·         Potato side dish Replace with pan fried Carrots and Rutabaga or Cauliflower mashed potatoes
·         Starchy Side dish Replace with oven Roasted Veggies with olive oil and herbs 
·         Starchy Side dish Replace with sautéed vegetable medley (swiss chard, bok choy, peppers, green beans, turnip, beets, zucchini, squashes, Brussels Sprouts, etc)
·         Breakfast Cereals Replace with sautéed vegetables in an omelet (kale, peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, onion) 
·         Crackers and Chips Replace with cut up Bell Peppers, Carrots, Snap Peas, Cucumber, Celery
Some of you may be thinking, “Sure, I know eating more vegetables will help me but I don’t like them that much!”  To those of you in that boat I would recommend trying new preparation methods.  If vegetables are only an afterthought on your dinner plate than you’ll never learn to enjoy them at their finest.  You’ll be amazed what a little “extra” veggie will do for your dishes, and your waistline!  Here are some preparation tips:
·         Before you sauté vegetables heat the olive oil and caramelize onions before adding in fresh garlic.  Cook the veggies until browned which brings out the flavor

·         Toss steamed vegetables with a pesto sauce or fresh herbs, dash of natural mineral salt, olive oil, or a ½ tsp of organic butter

·         Roast a vegetable medley on 350° for 1-1 ½ hours stirring occasionally until tender and browned.  Drizzle with Olive Oil and season with herbs, fresh garlic, natural minerals salt, and pepper (Suggestions: zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, rutabaga, turnips, peppers, green beans, fennel bulb, snap peas, cauliflower, carrots, beets)

·         Add extra vegetables to dishes you normally make so that more of what you are eating is vegetables vs. other filler foods…It’s okay to add double or extra to a recipe!  Foods to add EXTRA veggies to: eggs (omelets), mixed meat or pasta dishes, lasagnas, crock pot meals, tuna or chicken salads, lettuce salads, tomato sauces and salsas

Making changes to your diet can be challenging at first but makes all the difference in the end. Before you know it you’ll be enjoying veggies like a pro, and your body will love you for it!

Serving Guide: Aim for 6-9 servings of vegetables each day, or more (10-12…YES REALLY)!

1 serving~ =  ½ cup cooked vegetable, 1 cup raw vegetable, 1 cup leafy greens (raw)