Popular diets differ in the amount of protein and fat they recommend, but all of the diets supported by research recommend one thing: plenty of low-carb vegetables. That one eating habit can really improve your health! If that's one of your goals this year, set yourself up for success by checking out these six tips and over 30 recipes!
If only I had a dime for every diet that was ever popular. I would be rich! There have been more diets throughout the years than I can count, and new ones are making waves all the time. The newest diets I've heard of are the THM (Trim Healthy Mama) and Slimming World, but also popular right now is the vegan diet, raw diet, 21-day Fix, Paleo diet, Primal diet, low carb diet, keto diet, Banting diet, and South Beach diet. In the past, the Atkins diet was popular along with Weight Watchers and juicing, and the macro diet made an appearance. The Mediterranean and low fat diets are probably the most well known, and both along with the DASH diet are recommended by many doctors and dieticians. Trying to keep track of all of the diets out there makes my brain hurt!
I think the most confusing thing about all of these different diets is that most are supported by research showing that said diet aids in weight loss and improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels. How can this be when the amount of carbohydrates, fat and protein differs so drastically from one diet to another? Well, while the amount of macronutrients one should eat is often the source of contentious debate, all of these diets have one thing in common: they all recommend eating plenty of low carb vegetables.
"While the amount of macronutrients one should eat is often the source of contentious debate, all of these diets have one thing in common: they all recommend eating plenty of low carb vegetables."
The amount of macronutrients you eat will certainly impact your health, but I've read enough research to believe that much of the benefit from these diets comes from eating lots of low carb vegetables. Low carb vegetables are an incredibly rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are needed to keep the body healthy. They also contain lots of fiber, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps the digestive system moving as well as helping you to feel full. All of that together helps you lose weight and feel great!
In the days of the food pyramid, the amount of vegetables to eat each day was a confusing topic. The USDA recommended a certain number of servings, and what constituted a serving varied from one vegetable to another and whether or not that vegetable was cooked. Perhaps confusing was an understatement? But you can take a deep breath because I'm here to tell you that it doesn't have to be that difficult! Truly. You don't need to compare your food to your fist or weight it or memorize what constitutes a serving. All you need to do is use your eyes: every time you eat, aim to fill half of your plate with low carb vegetables. That's it, that's the one eating habit that can that help you improve your health this year!
"Every time you eat, aim to fill half of your plate with low carb vegetables."
In order to make sure this simple, I'd like to take a minute and specify what low carb vegetables are. Low carb vegetables are vegetables that grow above ground. The one exception is winter squash (pumpkin, butternut and acorn squash), which contains more starch than other vegetables that grow above ground. Vegetables that grow below ground, such as tubers and root vegetables, contain more starch and are not considered low carb vegetables. Corn are peas are sometimes considered vegetables, but they're actually grains and legumes and also do not count towards your low carb vegetable goal.
Now that you know that low carb vegetables are vegetables that grow above ground, it might be helpful to hear some examples. Leafy greens like spinach, kale and lettuce grow above ground, as do tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and eggplant. Summer squash like zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers, and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts also grow above ground and are considered low carb vegetables. Onions and garlic are included in this list, too. There's quite a lot of low carb vegetables!
Hopefully I've provided enough clarity as to what is considered a low carb vegetable. My goal is to make eating more vegetables as easy as possible for you! On that note, I've dedicated this post to telling you about six tips you can use to get more low carb vegetables in your diet and simple recipes to go with each. The six things that can help you eat more vegetables are:
- A collection of simple and delicious vegetable side dish recipes
- Salads and slaws
- Hearty soups and stews
- Recipes that substitute vegetables for starchy foods
- Recipes with hidden vegetables
- Sliced raw veggies that you can grab in a pinch
All of the recipes are gluten-free, and most also follow at least one of the diets I mentioned above. My hope is that you find some vegetable recipes that tickle your taste buds!
Simple and Delicious Vegetable Recipes
The first thing you need in order to set yourself up for success is a collection of recipes for vegetable side dishes that you can do. When I say "do", I mean recipes that you can make and recipes that taste good, because if a recipe doesn't satisfy both of those requirements, you won't make it and you won't eat it! All of the recipes below are delicious, simple, and easy to make. Just click on the photo or name of the recipe below each photo to get the ingredients and directions.
Easy Salads & Slaws
Of course, salads and slaws also count towards your vegetable allowance, and there are some really, really good salads and slaws out there. Most of these can be on the table in minutes, and all of them include some really delicious flavor combinations!
Hearty Vegetable Soups
Soups can also be a great way to eat your vegetables, especially when it's cold outside!
Recipes that Substitute Vegetables for Starchy Foods
Another way to get more vegetables in your diet is to substitute a low carb vegetable for a starchy food. Cauliflower is the most popular vegetable used as a substitute, and it can be used to make everything from mashed potatoes and rice to bread and pizza crust. It's a low carb vegetable that offers a lot of health benefits, so check out these recipes!
Turns out you can make a pizza crust from spinach, too!
Zucchini is also a great substitute for starchy foods. It has a mild flavor and versatile texture that allows it to be used as a substitute in many recipes. And like cauliflower, zucchini offers a lot of nutrients!
Recipes with Hidden Vegetables
Have family members that hate vegetables, or hate vegetables yourself? Hide them! That's right, you can trick yourself or your family into eating vegetables by hiding them in a delicious recipe.
Smoothies might be my favorite place to hide vegetables, especially leafy greens. Check out my Green Tea Smoothie with Pineapple & Spinach for a delicious way to get your leafy greens!
Chili is another great place to hide vegetables. I hid zucchini in my Roasted Red Pepper Crockpot Chili, but it's so delicious you'd never know!
Desserts are another great place to hide low carb vegetables. These Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by Jennifer Banz look fantastic!
Having a hard time eating vegetables for breakfast? Hide them in your pancakes!
Last Resort: Sliced Raw Veggies to Grab in a Pinch
Are you going through a busy time and finding even 15 minutes to cook one of the recipes above difficult? Don't fret, just grab a handful of raw veggies on your way out the door! Paired with a handful of nuts, a boiled egg, or a piece of cheese, a handful of raw vegetables can satisfy the "half a plate of vegetables" requirement for a snack or small meal.
Even if the only thing you can grab is baby carrots, don't worry about it! In a pinch, it's better to eat any vegetable or even a fruit for the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Remember, we're trying to make this easy, so don't fret. Just keep the goal of a half plate of low carb vegetables in mind and do your best. My favorite raw vegetables are sliced cucumbers or red bell peppers.
|Photo courtesy of Clip Art|
Go Forth & Eat Veggies
I hope I've provided enough recipes and ideas today to inspire you, and I hope I've made you hungry...for vegetables!
Remember, eating plenty of low carb vegetables is great for your weight and overall health. Aim to fill half your plate with low carb vegetables every time you eat, and keep the six tips I listed above in mind. Set yourself up for success with a collection of:
1. simple and delicious vegetable recipes
2. easy salads and slaws
3. hearty vegetable soups
4. recipes that substitute vegetables for starchy foods
5. recipes with hidden vegetables
6. sliced raw vegetables to grab in a pinch
If you try one of the recipes I shared in this post, please share your thoughts in the comments below!