Of late, our food has been acting as an enemy rather than an ally to our body, because of our dietary habits.
We now have a vast variety of scrumptious food options available at just a touch of an app. A Swiggy guy appears in minutes, with whatever food pleases our tastebuds, melting our willpower. We visit a grocery store and we have so many ready-to-eat options, high on preservatives and easy to stack up for months.
Sadly, such convenient alternatives are making it even more difficult to eat right.
It’s not brand new information that a healthy balanced diet should consist of plenty of vegetables. To be precise, 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day, according to a study. Yet, most of us only eat 1-2 servings a day which is clearly not enough.
One serving could be a 1/2 cup of chopped carrots/beets or 1 cup of spinach – for instance.
A cheat meal once in a while is forgivable, only when we compensate it with a nutrition-rich diet the rest of the days. That is not impossible, right?
Let’s power up our diet sustainably, focusing on a healthy lifestyle rather than getting into a specific dress size. Here are some sneaky ways to include a lot of veggies into your diet, viable for the long term with very little effort.
1. Vegetable chutneys, pesto and green smoothies
Once, I had to make beetroot chutney, just when I realised they were going to go bad if I didn’t cook them immediately. Surprisingly it turned out to be super delicious. Including such dishes which have 90% vegetable seemed to be a great way to increase the veggie intake. Subsequently, I prepared capsicum chutney, Amaranth leaf chutney and cucumber chutney and they were all amazing. So, instead of grabbing an oil loaded pickle, opt for such vegetable chutneys which go great with rice, dosa, idli and chapati.
Whenever you want to go snazzy and make something like pasta, make it pesto instead of white sauce. Also, include a lot of spinach to the pesto sauce and nobody will even know it is there.
If you are used to the idea of smoothies add in some greens like spinach or veggies like cucumber to your smoothie. You end up consuming a serving of vegetable without affecting the taste.
2. Substitute carbs with veggies modishly
Sometimes making a refreshingly different meal like dumplings, noodles or wraps takes much lesser effort than making sabzi, rice or roti. But how do we get all the taste and none of the guilt?
Try this. Go crazy with the filling, add in whatever veggies/meat, spices and sauces you like. But, replace the outer layer of a dumpling or a wrap with cabbage or lettuce instead of refined flour.
Similarly, zucchini noodles are a great substitute for maida noodles and it’s not very difficult to make it if you have a spiralizer at home. Make the rest of the recipe as tasty as you want. Kids will love it.
3. Incorporate veggies into your rice and roti dough
Simple things like adding some peas and corn kernels when boiling rice every day will bring in a significant change in your diet with the least effort.
Beetroot is definitely not one of my favorites, so I try different ways to consume it without tasting it. Beetroot roti is one of them. Honestly, it tastes better than plain roti. In the same way, you can try carrot and spinach roti too. They look much more appetizing.
As we did with roti you can also add beetroot/carrot/spinach paste into your dosa batter. Voila! colorful dosas.
Add veggies into your omelette every single time. You get accustomed to its taste and eventually, plain omelette will seem boring. Mushrooms and spring onions go bang on with an omelette.
4. Baked or stir-fried veggies with a dip
Typically, we are not habituated to baking in Indian kitchens but I realised it is far easier to bake the veggies than to make a curry. You also end up consuming a great deal of quantity if you opt for mild seasoning.
Baked potatoes is the obvious choice but also try baking zucchini, capsicum, carrots and cauliflower and they turn out much tastier than you assume. Just drizzle some olive oil, salt, chilli flakes and some herbs like basil, oregano, coriander. You are good to go.
You can use dips like Hummus and Melted cheese to make it more delicious.
5. Garnish every dish with grated veggies or microgreens
Top every dish with finely grating carrots, coconut, coriander or microgreens. It becomes easier as you get accustomed to this. You end up consuming extra veggies every day without particularly planning on it.
6. Never make plain dal again
Dal is kind of our everyday routine. We do include some greens into it occasionally but, make it mandatory. Be it cucumber, ridged guard, spinach, methi or anything that suits you. Thereafter every time you eat your routine lunch, an additional vegetables intake is happening.
Certainly, the best way to implement any of these methods is to prepare veggies beforehand, during the weekend maybe. Put them handy in your fridge so that you can grab them effortlessly.