Healthy Living Principle #2: Eat More Vegetables. Vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for health and optimal body function. Everyone's diet could be better with the inclusion of a few more veggies, especially the leafy green kind. Think about it, at how many meals and snacks do you actually eat vegetables? When you do eat them, how much do you eat? Do you eat the obligatory 2 pieces of broccoli so you can check the box on getting your veggies for the day?
Just adding more vegetables to you diet is the first step, and adding any veggies: fresh or frozen is a good start. But just as in Healthy Living Principle #1: Eat Real, Whole, Unprocessed Foods remember that ultimately food quality matters. Aim for seasonal, local, and if possible organic vegetables. Find a local farmer's market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to sign up for where you can have a constant supply of local healthy vegetables that are in season. Based on where you live, what is in season is what your body needs to adapt to and thrive in your environment so while it's ok to eat spinach year round, its best to more of it when it's in season in your area. Also remember to eat lots of colors, leafy green vegetable like arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun, spinach, swiss chard, and kale are nutritional powerhouses, but don't forget to eat vegetables that are other colors as well. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and purple cabbage are great ways to add a rainbow of vitamins and antioxidants to your diet. For some guidance on what new vegetables to try, check out Whole 9's seasonal vegetable list - bonus it also indicates the "dirtiest" vegetables and the "clean" ones to help you decide on a tight budget where to splurge and where to save on organic choices.
This year I have my own small garden and I've signed up to share a CSA box with a neighbor, plus my access to local farmers markets like the Upper Merion Farmers market and the over abundance from my mom's garden keep me knee deep in vegetables all summer long and well into the fall. What is your biggest challenge in eating more vegetables? If you already eat lots of vegetables, it's time to think about the quality and the variety of what you eat. I encourage you to go to your local famer's market and try something new this week and try to add veggies to at least one more meal or snack than you do right now.