While nutrition is rife with controversy, nearly everyone agrees eating more vegetables can help improve your health and well-being.
The challenge for many people is that vegetables are not easily accessible and don’t exactly taste great. In fact, they can taste downright awful. When faced with a side of fries, or raw broccoli, the side of fries will win by a landslide in a taste test.
So how can you start eating more vegetables? What are some practical ideas even if you have a busy schedule?
We asked our contributing fitness experts, along with the BuiltLean community on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube for ways to eat more vegetables. Here’s a list of 35 ways to eat more vegetables we compiled.
If you like the list, we hope that you share it with friends!
1) Add Veggies to Your Eggs – Kick-start your day by adding veggies to an omelet, or some scrambled eggs. Veggies like spinach, peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and kale work very well.
2) Replace Fries With Salad – Replace your side order of fries with salad when ordering at restaurants.
3) Dip Veggies – Dip veggies like celery, carrots, and broccoli into healthy fats like hummus or guacamole to make them tastier.
4) Swap Candy for Sweet Veggies – Replace refined-sugar treats with sweet root vegetables like sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, and beets.
5) Buy Pre-Cut Veggies – Use pre-cut vegetables as a great nutritional time saver to throw into any home-cooked meal.
6) Cook One New Vegetable Per Month – Explore learning to cook/make one vegetable per month with different recipes, until you find a recipe you really like.
7) View Savory Photos of Veggies – View the vegetables sections of sites like Foodgawker or Tastespotter to whet your appetite and explore new ways to cook veggies.
8 ) Practice Meatless Mondays – Avoid eating any meat on Mondays. Instead, eat plenty of veggies to fill you up.
9) Stock up on Frozen Vegetables – Fresh vegetables are great, but they tend to spoil before we are ready to use them. If you have frozen vegetables on hand, you won’t have to make any excuses!
10) Add A “Veggie Hour” to Your Week – Make your life easier by setting aside one hour a week to cut up onions, peppers, zucchini, and sweet potatoes (two trays worth). Put them in the oven for 45 minutes and you have enough cooked vegetables for a week that can be added as a side with any meal
11) Make A Veggie Pancake – Mix pancake batter (buckwheat is a great choice) and throw in some cooked crumbled sausage (pork or chicken), a big dose of grated gouda, and any finely chopped veggie you can dream of for a vitamin packed pancake
12) Try A Veggie You Don’t Like Again – Try a vegetable you think you don’t like in a new way: you might think you don’t like a certain vegetable but it’s entirely possible you don’t like the way you’ve had it prepared in the past. Maybe it was overcooked or cooked with spices you don’t like. Try it raw or prepare it yourself with spices and other vegetables you do like.
13) Add Veggies to Chopped Meat – Grate vegetables like carrots, squash, cucumber into things like hamburger patties, meatballs, or meatloaf for picky eaters
14) Grill Your Vegetables For Better Taste – Corn, carrots, cauliflower and beets are great choices. Just spray with a little cooking oil and sprinkle on some salt, pepper, Old Bay, or seasoning of your choice before you grill!
15) Add Vegetables to Soups – Soups are another great way to get more veggie into your life. All good soups start with a strong vegetable base such as onion, celery, carrot, and peppers. Squash is wonderful in soup, as is broccoli, turnip, beets, and beans.
16) Eat Vegetable Soup As An Appetizer – Serve vegetable soup as an appetizer to fill up & avoid over-eating less nutritional dishes.
17) Incorporate Veggies Into The Entree – Incorporate vegetables into the main dish, as opposed to a side pile you can “forget” to eat: try serving chicken “cordon-blue” stuffed with asparagus, spinach, or peas instead of calorie-dense ham & cheese.
18) Double the Veggies in Your Recipes – Double the amount of vegetables in certain recipes and you’re way ahead of the game
19) Make Veggie Pasta – Cut your carb intake in half & cook pasta with long strips of squash and carrot. You’ll be twirling those veggies around your fork with each bite.
20) Add Spinach With Lettuce – Pile spinach on your sandwiches in addition to lettuce, or use it as a substitute for denser nutritional value
21) Make A Vegetable Smoothie – Make a vegetable smoothie with a juicer for a great addition to any breakfast. Try carrot, ginger, and some apple for a pleasant combination.
22) Add Veggies to Marinara Sauce – Marinara sauce can help make vegetables taste a lot better and create an appealing consistency. Mushrooms, onion, peas, green beans can all add great flavor and nutrients.
23) Veggie Mashed Potato – Mix cauliflower in with mashed potato, or use it as a substitute.
24) Swap Mayo for A Veggie Spread – Ditch mayonnaise and butter on sandwiches – make your own dressing instead with blended basil, garlic, spinach, & olive oil or even pesto to add flavor.
25) Drink Water Instead of Soda/Juice – Drinking water and cutting out fruit juices and soda has been shown to increase appetite for vegetables and create higher levels of satiety.
26) Make A Veggie Bag – Cut up some baby carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers, and put them in a zip loc bag, and you can bring them to work, or keep them in the fridge for a pre-made snack.
27) Make Vegetable Chili – the more vegetables you include, the better the flavor & texture. Try different combinations until you find your favorite.
28) Buy a CSA Box – Buy a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box to try new vegetables that are freshly picked, organic produce from local farmers. Typically each box will cost $20-$40 with weekly delivery available.
29) Boil With Bacon – Try boiling greens like collard greens or turnip greens with a piece of bacon, or turkey bacon in the pot. The greens soak in the flavor so you have lots of tasty veggies without loads of extra calories.
30) Take a Greens Supplement – Not a whole vegetable, but technically several vegetables condensed into one serving. Dietary supplements can never replace eating whole veggies, but it’s a good start.
31) Purge Your Cupboards – Get rid of the empty carbs and calories in your kitchen and the stash you may keep at the office, then buy some veggies. When you get hungry and want a snack, your only option will be a veggie snack.
32) Think More Veggies – Think about how vegetables grow out of the ground into something loaded with nutrients, fiber and taste too. It’s as nature intended. Makes more sense than eating something manufactured in a lab, right?
33) Replace Bread With Lettuce Wraps – Replace nutritionally anemic white bread with lettuce wraps of romaine, or collard greens when making your next sandwich.
34) Try Kale Chips – Kale chips are tasty, convenient, and a heck of a lot more nutrient dense than potato chips.
35) Implement This List – Complete one suggestion on this list every week. You’ll be eating plenty of vegetables in no time!
Do you have any ways to eat more vegetables that you like?
I love your site. I’ve read a ton of the articles, and I am currently following your advice to get leaner. I’m 31, 6’3″, and weigh 169 pounds at about 11-12% body fat. I’ve been lifting weights consistently for over a year now, and I’ve always had trouble gaining weight. So I’m definitely on the small side of the bell curve in your “How Much Muscle Can You Gain Naturally?” article.
Reading that article (for probably the third time) just got me a little discouraged, though. In it, you say “you can take a solid 15lb off the genetic muscle potential chart above for your height, and you will still have a great physique when lean.” I do that for my height, and it looks like I need a LBM of 172 pounds! The only problem is that, as you can see from my stats, I’ve only got a LBM of 148.5 pounds right now. I’d have to gain almost 24 pounds of pure muscle to get to your minimum!!
I anticipate that your response will include something about 172 not being a true minimum but instead just a number you sort of threw out. But even if it’s not the minimum, 24 pounds is a heckuva big difference.
I want to get some abs for summer (and for all the time, but especially for summer), and to do that I need to be lean. My original plan was to cut fat for summer, maintain that through the end of August, and then begin a muscle building phase for fall and winter. But what do you think I should do: get lean first or focus on building more muscle first?
Thanks, Marc. I think your site is great!
@Nate – Well it sounds like you are already lean, so I would recommend getting leaner, or staying lean for the summer from an aesthetic perspective, then turning your attention to building muscle after the summer. I think if you can get your LBM to 155lb, you’ll be surprised at how you look. I did throw out that 15lb number just as an example. The whole idea is you don’t need much LBM to look great if you are lean and strong.
Marc, thanks a ton for your response. Getting to 155lb LBM is going to be my new goal after hitting my 9% body fat goal for summer! I love that you take the time to respond to people’s questions.
P.S. Sorry that my question wasn’t related to veggies. The comments on the appropriate article were closed already.
Marc, I’ve been using more green-veggie powder in my meals lately (mainly mixed in my shakes). While it’s not meant to replace vegetables from my diet, it’s a nice alternative for maintaining healthy eating habits.
Some great tips! Number 1, 19, 24, 21, 29 and 33 neved occured to me before!
I’m a bit curious about the veggie pasta, is there any recipe that you like best? same thing for replacing mayo (my latest weakness, I confess)
I’ll do my best to implement them. Thank you very much.
Emilia – Thanks Emilia. I really don’t have specific details about these ideas because we simply compiled them. I hope the person(s) who came up with these ideas can answer your question!
I was not the submitter of that particular entry, but it immediately makes me think of spaghetti squash. It’s a large, oval-shaped squash that you can cut in half, bake in the oven, and then shred with a fork. The pieces come out long and thin, somewhat like spaghetti.
We’ve prepared it with homemade marinara sauce and it turned out quite tasty.
I add sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, greek yoghurt, goat cheese to my raw cabbage / red cabbage salad. This makes it so tasty that I would finish up a full dinner plate. I eat it with chicken or beef too 🙂
@Samuel – Awesome. Thanks for sharing!
I acquired a taste for more veggies by simply juicing. I’ve been juicing one meal (usually breakfast) for about 6 months. You can create great flavorful concoctions using apples,carrots, spinach, kale, etc. After about 4 weeks, my body actually began to crave more vegetables which I included in my regular diet.
Thanks for the all the other tips. I’m going to try to experiment with a few of them.
@Marc – Actually, I first heard about greek yoghurt here, then I found it in the supermarket, tried it, love it and eat it everyday! So I should thank you. Your content rocks, keep it up!
@Samuel – Thanks, comments like yours keep me going strong!
It helps to think of vegetables as the main item on the menu, and everything else as secondary. Every few days we take a variety of vegetables, blanch in boiling water for a few minutes, and then puree with the cooking water to make soup. This is the basis for all evening meals, and also makes a great snack.
We focus on filling up on vegetables and then reaching for the protein. So lunch will be a pile of salad and raw vegetables with a dressing of lime and soy sauce and wakame seaweed, followed by a piece of tofu or a bowl of lentils or mixed beans. After which, instead of finishing with a starchy carbohydrate, we will eat a few pieces of fruit.
Cherry tomatoes and mini cucumbers, mini-corn, baby asparagus and button mushrooms make great snacks. Wash and eat! Keep a dipping sauce of lime and soy mixed into tahini if extra flavour is required. Alternatively, dip into yoghurt flavoured with seaweed and sesame.
Some hard and fast rules: no juice, only water or fruit, no bread or biscuits (ever), no starchy carbohydrate on an empty stomach, an espresso every morning (ok, make that two!), 0-1 alcoholic drinks per month, and consuming about 90% of calories as unprocessed food
Disclosure: long time vegetarian/vegan and professional dancer. LBM = approx 42kg. Total Cholesterol = 137, Semi-fasted sugar = 92, age = hitting the half century.
@Ginsling – Thanks for sharing. That’s very helpful.
One problem with V8 is the high sodium content though I love the taste of V8. I also use veggie greens in my protein shakes each day along with PhytoBerries and fruit -selected from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, mango and banana.
How about 36. Eat dried vegetable chips (salt-free) Sweet potatoes, potatoes, green beans, carrots – you can make your own.
We had grilled portobello mushroom burgers the other day. They were great. Also found a recipe for strawberry, avocado salsa that was to die for. There are lots of creative combinations for vegetables.
I absolutely love your site and I am a really excited about subscribing the 8 week workout program but there is a question that is really bugging me. I m 19, 5′ 6.9″ and weigh 132 pounds with a body fat percentage of 6.1% which is considered ideal for my age. But judging by the statistics, is the 8 week training program suitable for me? Because my aim is to have a body like yours which is my goal but currently Im too lean. Im doing work out at the gym 4 times a week and I even tried out the P90x abs program thrice a week. To be honest I do not have a proper nutrition diet to follow as I normally ate whenever I love it to, resulting a lower daily calorie intake. But what do you think I should do to achieve my goals? Am I staying on the right track?
Thanks, Marc gotta love your site. Well deserved 5/5!!
@James – Given you are already very lean, I don’t think the BuiltLean Program is for you. I do think you could learn a lot and it’s a solid program that can help you, but you are not the target client. I would recommend counting the calories you eat and seeing how many more or less you are eating than you approximately burn. Also, check out this post 7 Reasons to Keep a Food Journal | Part 1.
@Peter – we do have V8 in the U.S. I did get it briefly, but the high sodium content (even in the low sodium content can) was really tough to drink after a while. Tasted like I was drinking pure salt.
After 6 months of busting my butt at the gym and not seeing the visual results I want, I came across your website and am now convinced I need to change my eating habits. I have been on a great balanced diet for two weeks now in hope of getting lean. Working out 5 times a week strength training. Hitting cardio 3-4 times a week. Currently 5’9″ and 158 with about 18 – 19% body fat. My goal is to get around 12%. My issue is beer. My hobby is homebrewing and has been for 16 years so that isn’t gonna change. If my calculated caloric intake is 1800 a day for weight loss to get lean, can I still consume my beer in moderation as long as I follow my caloric, protein, and carb targets? Your site is the best!!
@Ty – Yes, nutrition is without a doubt the #1 reason why most guys don’t get the results they want, and even most women. So I’m really happy to see you are focusing on your nutrition and giving it the attention it deserves! I absolutely do think you can lose fat despite drinking alcohol as long as you keep the calories under control and have a reasonable macronutrient breakdown. I would also consider drinking beer by itself without food, as the body will break down and use the alchohol before the other nutrients. In other words, have beer as a snack. Obviously, not the most nutritious snack, but if it’s a “non-negotiable” for you, then that’s a good strategy in my opinion.
Great ideas on how to mix in more veggies. Another one that I will do is with my rice. One of my new favorite meals is a cup of brown rice, a grilled chicken breast or 2, and a whole bunch of veggies chopped up and mixed all together. Throw come red pepper flakes and some other spices on there and you have a healthy, “power fuel” meal with very little calories and a ton of nutrients. Helps me get down more veggies, and it doesnt tase half bad.
Another one that has helped me at work is to bring in a veggie tray for the office to snack on instead of the standard box of cookies or donuts. People generally laugh and complain, but by the end of the day….all the veggies are gone.
@ken – those are some great ideas. Given how much you’ve transformed your body, I would certainly heed your advice. Also, when you’re ready, we need to do a success story Q&A!
Thanks for your wonderful posts. They are so informative. I have found one way to get more vegetables is to juice – an entire bag of spinach can make a little over one serving of juice, so it really helps!
I just bought your Built Lean program, and was going through the nutrition guide. You recommend 140g of protein a day. Does that apply to women too? If no, how should a woman modify that? Right now, I am doing 75g-90g/day (I am a 5’3″, 133 lb woman). I’m trying to lean out about 5 more pounds.
@Natasha – Thanks for getting started with my Program! I recommend eating roughly 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM, which for you is probably around 100 grams. 75-90 should be fine, but keep in mind protein has a thermic effect and keeps you fuller longer. That’s why eating a higher protein diet during a fat loss program is such a smart strategy.
1.) Man that lettuce wrap sandwich looks delicious what is in it, I would like to have it for
2.) Also for the lean and green strategy, is it allowable to have soup or just eat salads?
@Seb – don’t know, it’s a stock image. Looks like salmon to me. Soup definitely works!
So inspirational. I hate veggies and I can’t wait to start eating them now. Let’s hope one of these tips work for me.