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As you hit your last growth spurts into adulthood, you realize that your parents were right about most of the rules that seemed silly as a child.
For example, your folks were right about eating your greens. Vegetables and dark leafy greens are excellent sources of vitamins, antioxidants, and essential nutrients. If you’ve still got a green-unfriendly palate, here are eight creative ways to eat your daily eight.
Add a veggie side dish to your lunchbox
Do you pack your lunch for work or school? Throw in a veggie side dish like chopped raw broccoli with a dipping sauce, carrot sticks with salad dressing, or raw veggie mini-skewers with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
Pick a veggie side dish that’s easy to make and meal prep-friendly to keep yourself on track with your new health efforts.
Try a green supplement
Dietary supplements are an excellent way to fill in the gaps in your nutrition without having to choke down an entire bowl of spinach. So if you’re not the veggie type, but you still want the robust nutritional benefits of hearty vegetables, try a green supplement.
Try a meat-free week (or two)
Have you always wanted to try out a vegan lifestyle but don’t want to commit fully? Try a week (or two) of zero-meat eating. Without access to meat, you’ll be forced to make up at least some of your calorie and protein intake with vegetables.
There’s no better time than now to do a vegan trial run. Try out a few vegan recipes, and visit the farmer’s market for a cheap way to pack in the green.
Add hidden greens to a favorite dish
Let’s say your favorite meal is lasagna. What’s stopping you from adding some undercover veggies to your recipe?
You can add a zucchini liquefied in the blender to your sauce recipe without changing texture or flavor. Finely chopped spinach (especially paired with some basil or fresh oregano) mixed into your ricotta mix will likely go unnoticed, and the herbs will overpower the spinach flavor. Use your creativity to sneak veggies in for a nutritional boost with no change in flavor.
Create a reward system
Did you have a sticker chart to track good behavior when you were a kid? Make one for eating at least one serving of greens each day.
If you rack up seven consecutive days of veggie noshing, reward yourself with a trip to an ice cream parlor or your favorite fast food joint. Hijacking your brain’s reward pathway never felt (or tasted) so good.
Set a daily calendar reminder or alarm on your smartphone to remind you to eat your greens. Schedule the reminder for a convenient time, like your daily lunch or snack break at your workplace. Consistency is vital, so make sure to follow through when you hear the chime.
Add a side salad to your restaurant order
Are you always going out for wings or pizza? Add a side salad to your restaurant order as an appetizer. Not only will you have something to eat before anyone else at the table, but you’ll also be eating your greens on the go.
Recruit an accountability buddy
Meeting goals is more manageable with a friend. Ask a veggie-deficient pal to join up with you for a green-eating challenge. Consider making things interesting: whoever eats greens for the most consecutive days wins some green from their pal’s wallet.
Eating greens is integral to a healthy lifestyle. However, if you’re veggie-shy, try out some of the tips above to increase your nutrient intake. Your body, your doctor, and your next round of blood work will thank you.