Today I was walking across campus, eating a kale/roasted acorn squash/honey mustard sandwich, and wondering what to write about. Lifestyle advice can be so abstract, and I really wanted to offer some concrete information about how to make your life a better place, no matter who you are or what your goals may be. Ergo, I decided to discuss a topic that changed my life for the better: vegetables.
We all know that we are supposed to eat more veggies, but most people don’t do it. This problem has two facets:
1 People don’t realize how vital vegetables are to their health. 2 People can’t figure out how to cram five servings into their daily diet.
Vegetables are magic foods. Seriously. They offer vitamins, nutrients, water, and fiber. They strengthen the immune system and help your body operate like it’s supposed to. Eating a variety of seasonal (and hopefully local) vegetables is the number one best thing you can do for your dietary health. For more information on exactly how important veggies are and the impact they can have on your life, check out this stone soup interview with nutritionist Kathryn Elliot.
Rachel, my lovely culinary friend (who will be launching her own blog about how to eat well for five dollars a day), offered me some great advice about how to increase my vegetable intake.
Eat raw veggies as a snack. Even if you have to pack a lunch, you can include a container (hopefully a reusable one you plan on washing) of sliced celery, carrots, cucumbers or whatever raw veggies you enjoy. If this seems too mundane, include some honey mustard or balsamic vinaigrette for dipping. You could also bake turnips, potatoes or kale for a cooked and crispy bring-along snack. Pack a salad for lunch, and load it down with some nuts and dried fruit to keep you full all afternoon. Aim for naturally colorful meals.
Use a weekend or day off to make a big vat of soup that you can tote in a thermos. Get creative with your sandwiches, hence the one I mentioned at the beginning of my post. Roasted winter squash is great in casseroles, on sandwiches, and in soups. Make a carrot cake, zucchini bread, or pumpkin muffins. Adding veggies to foods you want to eat is a great way to increase your intake, and many fruits/veggies can be used to replace oil or butter in recipes.
As a student, I know it’s hard to find healthy lunch for a reasonable price, but if you commit to making a few healthy meals on the weekend, then you can enjoy them all week long. If you don’t like eating the same dish for days in a row, portion your meals out and freeze them for later use. For more on properly freezing food, check out this article.
Healthy eating seems like a daunting challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Like all tasks, it requires interest, intention, and an initial investment of energy. Changing all your habits at once can be more stressful than inspiring, so aim to add veggies to your diet and then you can cut out other items that aren’t working or add more items you’re curious about.
Eating more veggies will put you in a clearer state of mind, allow you to enjoy a better mood, and give you the energy to live the life you crave.
Homework: Eat an extra serving of veggies today and everyday for a week. See how it affects your mind, mood, and body.
Have your cake and eat it, too. Just make sure it’s healthy cake.
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