I admit I was a weird child, but even when I was growing up, my motto was "the more veggies, the better."
Now that I'm older, nothing's really changed. Vegetables should ALWAYS be included as part of your lunch or dinner--and the best part is, there are a ton of options. Plus, it's ALWAYS healthy. You get tons of vitamins and fiber without massive amounts of carbohydrates. Just make sure you're not drenching them in butter or oil or fatty salad dressings--that defeats the purpose.
Here's a tip from my favorite (Dr. Oz) about salad dressings:
try an oil-based, reduced-fat dressing
"Look for salad dressings that contain heart-healthy oils like olive or canola oil, and 2 to 4 grams of fat per serving. Two teaspoons (a serving) of this kind of dressing will count for 150 calories; these 150 calories will serve you better than the hundreds more you consume between unhealthy snacks later."
I love pretty much everything, so feel free to pick and choose from any of the ideas below.
1.) "30 second salad": One of the easiest ways to get your vegetables is to throw together a salad. For me, this is where a little advance preparation comes in. Every week when I have fresh veggies and start chopping for a salad, I just chop up everything and drop them in Tupperware containers (I keep different veggies separated). I also take advantage of bagged lettuce (usually spinach). My favorite salad toppings are bell peppers (green, red, yellow, and orange) and cucumber and sometimes I'll do mushrooms too. That way, no matter when I get home, I can ALWAYS have a salad with my meal.
2.) Frozen anything: Easy, cheap and long-lasting. I love frozen broccoli or green beans, frozen peppers, asparagus--really anything that looks good. My freezer is stocked with different bags of things--I always have a variety of choices and I don't have to worry if I can't eat it all at once. I just open the bag, put what I want in a microwave-safe bowl, and stick it in the microwave for about 3 minutes. Occasionally, I add a splash of water for added steam, but usually it isn't necessary. Add a little salt and pepper and/or a splash of lemon juice for a little extra flavor. The other way to do it is to just drop the veggies in a skillet with a little olive oil and cook them through--but what's easier than in the micro?
3.) Brussel Sprouts: I am a new convert to these, thanks to a coworker (You rule, Sally!). This one requires slightly more effort (and you can roast them in the oven too, but this is how I like to make them)...but I am happy to do it because they're delish! First, bring a pot of water to a boil and then drop in the sprouts. Let them boil for 3-4 until they are bright green and slightly tender. Drain them, cut them in half and put them in a skillet (with a little olive oil) until they start to char (make sure you do both sides). I can eat them just like that and a little salt and pepper OR with lemon juice of course.
4.) Carrots on-the-go: Baby carrots are one of my staples. I bring some with my lunch almost every day. Did you know that 3 oz of baby carrots (1 serving) gives you 120% of your daily Vitamin A?!?! That blew my mind. And in case you didn't know, Vitamin A is one of the key vitamins that provides anti-oxidants, which are crucial in preventing cancer and aging. You can buy a big bag and portion it out in snack bags or even sometimes buy individual portions already done for you.
5.) Fresh pea pods or snow pea pods: Crunchy and easy to eat...there are bags of them in the veggie aisle and I do the same thing I do with the carrots and portion them out.
The last thing I would say is MIX IT UP! Not everyone likes everything, but don't get locked into eating the same thing over and over--that's boring and more importantly, you're more likely to get sick of it and then you won't eat ANY vegetables. Buy a bag of frozen mixed veggies instead of just broccoli, grab some edamame and boil them in water, grab something fresh and throw it in your cart.
Also, feel free to leave a comment and share what your favorite vegetable recipes are!