Top 6 ways to make salad and veggies and truly enjoy them!!
#1 Understand why veggies are SO good for you!!
Fiber is good for the microbial population in your gut. The microbes protect your intestinal cells, balance your immune function, reduce inflammation, help optimize your metabolism, and boost nutritional status. Feed those bugs the fiber they need and you'll feel great!
Phytonutrients are the countless tiny nutrients in veggies that do all sorts of magical things, many of which modern science has not even identified!
Phytonutrients offset oxidative stress, which makes you look younger, feel younger, and have better skin, nails, and hair!
They also reduce inflammation, which reduces aches and pains.
And they optimize cellular health, which is a major aspect of cancer prevention!! Wowza!
Vitamins & Minerals
Help reduce the risk of all modern, degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune, GI issues, and so much more!
And of course enable normal cellular function so you can get up every day with lots of energy to last until you go to bed. That's what I'm talking about!
Low in Calories, High in Nutrients
So you can eat LOTS of them. This makes losing weight and getting healthy more FUN! And of course it adds variety to your diet.
#2 Shred, Dice, and Julienne.....
Whip out your food processor, your mandoline, or a really sharp knife.
This technique is especially good for people that don't really care for veggies that much. Make them tiny and they kind of go away...well, not really but it almost seems like it. Think of cole slaw....it's actually a salad but somehow when it comes with a burger it doesn't feel like it.
You can do that with all kinds of veggies and trick yourself into thinking that you're eating some cole slaw!
#3 Get lots of variety
Next time you go to the farmers' market or the grocery store buy ONE thing that you have never eaten before. I'm sure you'll have your phone with you so if you don't know what to do with it, look it up!
The trick to not getting bored with veggies is to eat a ton of variety. This goes for all foods. I find that when I work with people they are usually eating eggs, chicken, broccoli, and salad, and eggs, chicken, broccoli, and salad, and repeat over and over.
Of course this is boring!!
Get out of your rut! Look at what's available and have a little fun! Try things like:
endive, frisee, radicchio, sprouts, escarole, Broccoli Rabe (aka rapini), Bok Choy, Brussel sprouts, daikon, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, mizuna, tatsoi, watercress, dandelion greens, sunchoke (aka Jerusalem artichoke), chicory, fennel, cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, chives, red onion, scallions, mushrooms, peas, cold potatoes, and more!
And you can dice, shred, or julienne them and throw them in a salad. Or toss them with olive oil and sea salt and roast them. Or satay them with garlic, onions, butter, and sea salt. See! Super easy, quick, and incredibly tasty!
#4 Add Goodies!
Sometimes people tell me they are eating the same boring salad every day: romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, and onions. Okay, that's fine, but how about adding some more cool goodies to your salad to make it interesting. I can't ask you to eat veggies 3 times a day, every day if you're going to just stick to the basics.
Some ideas of goodies to throw in your salad:
Roasted peppers, pickled mushrooms, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts, pickled Jalapeno, fermented veggies of all kinds (sauerkraut, beets, carrots, kimchi, etc), olives, walnuts, almonds, pecans, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, toasted pine nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, jicama, avocado, pears, strawberries, tangerines, mango, pomegranate seeds, parmesan cheese, goat cheese, feta cheese, hardboiled eggs, and oh, so much more!
You don't have to add all of these...just three or four of these in a salad on any given day can be the difference between a snooze-fest at lunch and actually having something to look forward to eating!
And when you cook up veggies be sure to keep it fun and tasty. Satay some onion and garlic before cooking up those greens. It sweetens up the greens (which are sometimes bitter), adds prebiotic fiber, and just makes it more interesting. Shallots, scallions, ginger, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, snap peas, peas, pine nuts, slivered almonds, walnuts, cashews, dried fruit, and so much more can add some pop to your satay.
If you are roasting the veggies then onions, squash, eggplant, potatoes or sweet potatoes will add some life to any dish!
#5 Dress those veggies!
Now you are really getting into the juicy stuff!
Once you have added a good variety of veggies and added your goodies, please don't leave them undressed!
Dressing can be in the form of salad dressing or properly adding oils/fats or flavors to cooked veggies.
For salad dressing, the possibilities are endless! The basic starts with a good quality oil.
We love extra virgin olive oil from Olive Oil of the World. Ersilia hand-picks all the oils so they are truly made as extra virgin olive oil should be, no diluting, no mixed harvests, no dredge, just pure extra virgin.
I also love to add another flavored oil to my dressings. This can range from avocado and almond to flax, sesame, pumpkin, and sunflower, (we love Oillee for super fresh, cold-pressed, organic, glass-bottled high quality oils). YUM!
Then you'll want some acidity, which is usually vinegar or citrus. I like raw apple cider vinegar because it's a great digestive aid. But a balsamic glaze is also super tasty (and sweet). Fresh lemon, lime, or orange can instantly perk up a salad as well. If you can't do vinegar or citrus try pulverizing some green mango in your dressing.
Then of course you'll need some sea salt and maybe some freshly ground black pepper.
Those are the basics. From there, the sky is the limit!
Here are just a few ideas to add to salad dressing:
Freshly pressed garlic, shallots, onions, chives, scallions, mustard, mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, tahini, ginger, wasabi, horseradish, Sriracha, avocado, fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, dill, or parsley, dried herbs like oregano or spices like cayenne or curry, Jalapeno, parmesan, feta, or goat cheese, blue cheese, fresh fruit like strawberries, mango, or pineapple, pesto, roasted red peppers, chutney, chocolate, truffles, capers, and oh so much more!
When you cook veggies make sure to toss them in some oils or cook with butter or ghee! This is super important. I don't ever want to hear of someone cooking veggies with NO FAT! Way to make it ridiculously boring and unappealing! Also, way to reduce the absorption of the nutrients in the veggies. That's right. To get the full benefit of veggies you need to have them with some fat.
Here's a tip. If you are steaming your veggies, toss them in a large bowl with some olive oil and sea salt first and then steam. You will thank me later!
Butter is like a magical element that can make even your least favorite veggies taste good. I have been known to cook two heads of broccoli in a whole stick of butter. Of course with sea salt and garlic as well. Broccoli has never tasted so good. I promise!
#6 Smoothies and Juice
Now we're talking. This is a way to pack in mega-doses of nutrition in one delicious drink!
"What's the difference between juicing and blending?", you ask.
Juice is made by extracting the juice from the pulp. Smoothies are made by blending.
With juice you have removed most of the fiber and with smoothies you keep the fiber.
Juice makes it so you can consume a larger volume of vegetables in one drink, say 8 oz, so it's more concentrated.
Both are great! Really it depends on what you are going for.
If you are looking to detox or really get a high number of servings of veggies each day then go for the juice. You can get 10 or more servings of veggies in one 8 oz glass of juice!
If you are looking to get in more veggies and an easy liquid meal, go for the smoothie. Smoothies are a wonderful way to sneak in all kinds of goodies like berries, nuts/seeds, healthy oils and fats, powders like collagen and probiotics, and extra veggies of course! And smoothies are also a great way to get some veggies in at breakfast, which can be challenging for some people.
Both juice and smoothies are an easy and delicious way to pack in extra servings of veggies in a day. Sometimes people just don't like eating salads or cooked veggies. If that's the case, I tell them to drink 8 oz of fresh veggie juice daily and maybe throw a smoothie in as well. Easy, peasy!
So....there are so many wonderful ways to get veggies in. You'll need some creativity and some experimentation. I have provided lots of ideas here to get you started. Once you get in the habit of eating veggies at EVERY meal you will find what keeps it appealing and sustaining for YOU. It's worth the effort! Remember veggies contain fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals and are super low in calories.
Watch the video above to see me and Maria Gigante preparing some veggies in my kitchen.