Are you getting your minimum 3 cups per day of vegetables?
One of the three fundamental principles of nutrition - variety - suggests that we consume a variety of foods from each food group in order to obtain all nutrients the body needs. So, we also have to ask ourselves, am I getting my minimum 3 cups per day of a variety of vegetables?
Our Greenergy green drink powder does a great job of easily providing the equivalent of 5 servings of antioxidant-rich vegetables from just one scoop. However, how can we include a greater variety of vegetable sources into our day? Vegetables for breakfast is one possible solution!
Despite the numerous health benefits of vegetables, Americans are not getting enough veggies in their daily diet. One survey found that only 9.3% of American adults meet the daily vegetable recommendation. 1 Are younger Americans doing better? Unfortunately, statistics show only 2% of youths are meeting their daily veggie needs. 2
Many are sincerely trying to improve their vegetable intake but they meet different obstacles.
Access - Research shows those who live in low-income, minority, or rural neighborhoods have limited access to stores that sell a variety of vegetables at reasonable prices. 3
Lack of knowledge - Many report that a lack of knowledge on how to purchase, prepare, store vegetables hinders them from meeting their daily quota. 4 Others simply lack knowledge of just how essential vegetables are for their health. 5
Time/Convenience- The ease of choosing other "convenience foods" or the time it takes to clean, chop, and cook vegetables discourage some from meeting their needs. 6
Do you find yourself in any of these categories?
One practical way to meet vegetable recommendations before the day ends is simply to not wait until the end of the day to eat them! Yes, for many, vegetables aren't even in the picture until dinner time. If we're lucky, they'll get them starting with lunch. However, why not change things up and use vegetables in your breakfast? It's an easy way to maximize the amount of nutrients you get in a day.
Don't have time to sit around the cutting board and stove all morning? Of course, not. Most of us are on the run. Still, veggies can be quickly incorporated into your breakfast.
Consider some of these simple solutions:
+ Tomato juice is a quick "grab n' go" source of veggies
+ Bake a large quiche with asparagus, roasted tomatoes, peppers, onions, and any other preferred vegetables to feast on all week for breakfast
+ Remember, you can use canned or frozen veggies, too, to speed up the process
+ Store pre-sliced veggies in your refrigerator to top your breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, or hummus toast with. Choose crisp, crunchy veggies such as cucumbers and radishes or top them with some sliced tomatoes or greens (arugula, romaine, etc)
+ Add beans, peppers, onions, and salsa to your omelet or egg breakfast sandwich
+ Add your veggies of choice to baked egg muffins that you can bake early in the week and then grab and go as the week progresses
+ Pre-slice yellow squash, mushrooms, and bell peppers to add to a quick egg scramble or frittata
+ Keep a few cups of mixed raw veggies (asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini) and spinach in your refrigerator. Also, keep a batch of cooked quinoa or brown rice in your refrigerator. Cook 1 cup of the veggies over medium heat until slightly tender, add spinach until wilted, season, and top a serving of heated quinoa or brown rice with the cooked veggie mixture. Top with a poached egg.
+ Add canned pumpkin to your pancake batter
+ Add at least 1 cup of veggies to your morning smoothie, such as 1 cup of dark leafy greens for citrus-based smoothies or baked sweet potato for other fruit-based smoothies
+ Make an open-faced egg sandwich with sauteed spinach or kale
+ Make a sweet potato hash with kale, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or any other greens
+ Add carrots to your morning smoothie.
+ Make breakfast tacos with an egg scramble and cooked veggie filling. Use any vegetables you like, such as sauteed zucchini, bell peppers, or yellow squash.
+ Make a breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach, some tomatoes and feta cheese. Freeze several of them for later use.
1. Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, et al. Disparities in state-specific adult fruit and vegetable consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR. 2017;66:1241–1247.
2. Moore, LV, Thompson FE, Demissie Z. Percentage of youth meeting federal fruit and vegetable intake recommendations, Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, United States and 33 states, 2013. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017;117(4):545-553.
3. Larson NI, Story MT, Nelson MC. Neighborhood environm
5. Hromi-Fiedler, A., Chapman, D., Segura-Pérez, S., Damio, G., Clark, P., Martinez, J., & Pérez-Escamilla, R. (2016). Barriers and Facilitators to Improve Fruit and Vegetable Intake Among WIC-Eligible Pregnant Latinas: An Application of the Health Action Process Approach Framework. Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 48(7), 468–477.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2016.04.398
6. Produce for Better Health Foundation. State of the Plate, 2005.