THANK YOU for taking a moment to review this page for valuable tips and tools which, I feel, will make a world of difference for you, as they have for me, in giving your diet a veggie makeover -- a makeover that will ultimately improve your health, vitality and energy! What follows are just a few best practices designed to help you effectively and easily incorporate more veggies into your meals. So say goodbye to feeling like you're trying to achieve the impossible, and say hello to feeling more empowered and confident in your everyday dietary choices!

    Photo by Darrin Ballman Photography
  • Know Your Vegetables - You may think you already have a firm grasp on what is and what is not a vegetable. But like many people, including myself at one point, you're probably mistaken, perhaps confusing certain fruits (botanically speaking) for vegetables. On his website, Dr. Larry Wilson helps us to better understand the recognizable differences between vegetables and fruits or herbs: 
    • Veggies vs. Fruits: "Vegetables are the leaves and more fibrous roots and other parts of plants. They are to be distinguished from fruits, which are the expanded ovaries of plants. Fruits are generally sweeter, and contain seeds while vegetables do not. " He goes on to list a number of foods not preferred by his Nutritional Balancing program, including nightshades, squashes and others." (Please see Dr. Wilson's web page for full details.)
    • Veggies vs. Herbs: "Vegetables differ from herbs and spices in that vegetables can be eaten in large quantities on a daily basis. Herbs and spices include many leaves, stems or roots of plants. However, they either have very strong flavors or they contain slightly toxic substances that make them unsuitable for everyday eating, except in very small quantities." (Please see Dr. Wilson's web page for full details.)
  • Shop at Farmers Markets - Not only do you find a beautiful variety of fresh and often organically grown produce, but you have the additional opportunity to converse with folks who work directly on the farm that grows the food. No need to feel shy or intimidated about asking questions either. These folks are often quite friendly, knowledgeable and encouraged to know that consumers are taking an interest in the foods they eat. If you're unsure of the specific processes or vocabulary (i.e. certified/non-certified, organic, biodynamic, sustainable, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc.) related to farming and food production, you can always simply ask the vendor, "Do you use chemicals of any kind?" Often the answer to this question is actually more important than whether or not the farm is certified organic. The reason is that not all clean, quality farms can afford to jump through the costly hoops of the USDA's organic certification programs, whose standards by the way are becoming increasingly compromised.
  • Prepare Your Own Food - Given the rather manic busy-ness of our culture and the relative apparent ease and convenience of ordering takeout, I understand how daunting it can feel to try to find the time and energy to prepare our own meals. Unfortunately, providing diners with the most mineral-rich vegetables options isn't really a priority at most restaurants. And even if you do manage to procure a nice bowl of organic steamed vegetables, chances are you're actually getting more fruits than veggies (see above) and you're paying quite a bit more for them than you would be if you just made them at home. So if you're serious about eating more vegetables -- that is, the right kind of vegetables -- then your best bet is simply to take charge of your own meal preparation.

  • Invest in a Steamer and Food Processor - As far as ease and convenience of at-home preparation, this step is a priceless no-brainer! Especially if you're anything like me and prefer cooking to be more of a creative and fun process than a laborious chore. 
    • I recommend a quality stove-top steamer because you don't need to overcook your veggies, but to cook them just long enough to break down the cellulose wall so they're easier to digest.
    • I recommend a quality food processor to cut down on time spent on food preparation, while also encouraging your creativity in the kitchen.
    • Visit my Tools page to see what steamer and food processor I use in my kitchen!

  • Ready A Veg-Medley - By far one of the most helpful practices I've incorporated into my own meal preparation is to dice and steam veggies in advance -- but no more than a day or two in advance, to retain freshness. Usually, the way this works for me, is that, first thing in the morning, I will large- or medium-dice and steam 1.5 - 2 quarts of whatever veggies I want to eat that day, or over the next couple days. Often, I do a medley of broccoli, peas, carrots, beets and cabbage, or some comparable mix, and prepare onions and garlic separately for storage in their own container. I'll use whatever amount I want to eat with breakfast right away, and then keep the rest in the fridge. That way, when I'm ready to make my next meals, be they omelettes or steamed veggie cold salads, I've got a container of vegetables just waiting and ready to go... All I have to do is throw them in, maybe heat them up again, and presto!

  • Drink Your Veggies - Sometimes eating grown-up food and chewing it too gets old and/or boring. No joke. And in fact, pureed vegetables (i.e. veggie soups, savory smoothies, etc.) are actually easier for the body to digest. Plus, eating veggies in pureed form can have a fascinating effect on feelings of satiation. I know they cause me to feel fuller for longer. Give it a try, and I'm sure you'll be amazed -- as I was -- at how many more vegetables you work into your day AND how much freer you feel from cravings for foods that are less healthy.

  • Get Creative with Recipes - As with life, the secret to great cooking is to take one thing you really enjoy, put it with other things you really enjoy and then mix them all up together, until the balance and consistency is just right... I know that's what I did and am doing! I expect you'll find, as I have, that the more interesting you can make cooking with vegetables, the more interested you'll be in eating them. (Funny how that works!) The Internet can be your best friend in this regard. Think of some food -- even comfort food -- you've really enjoyed, search out a few recipes for it, and then experiment with making a healthier version of that same food. Tweak and tinker with the ingredients and various styles of combinations until you're satisfied it's both good and good for you! Coming to a place where you can take ownership of your cooking is a great way to reinforce your commitment to nourishing yourself well. And in the meantime, and even afterward, remember that my Recipes page is available to you for support, ideas and inspiration... Bon appetit!

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