If there is one thing you can do today that will utterly transform your state of well-being, it’s upping your consumption of life-supporting, phytochemical-packed, mineral- and vitamin-rich, fiber-laden vegetables to optimal levels: about 70 percent of your food intake.
Does making this switch mean consuming buckets of salad every day? No. While salads are superb, vast quantities of raw vegetables are taxing to digest. And cooking vegetables often helps to release vital nutrients. I recommend borrowing the strategies of some of the savviest vegetable eaters I know. Implement one of these tactics every week, and within seven weeks your diet will be prolific with plants.
- Make Your Bed First Thing. Make a layer of greens or mixed vegetables the foundation of every plate — include eggs or other proteins for breakfast! Steam or sauté with minced garlic, using EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) and salt liberally.
- Shop, Then Prep. Bring home fresh produce and spend a few minutes prepping it so you can quickly grab fistfuls in the days ahead. Wash and dry salad and cooking greens well, then store in baggies with moisture-catching paper towels. Trim and chop cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cabbage so they’re at the ready for steaming and sautéing. Slice up carrots, cucumbers, and peppers for quick crudité snacks.
- Roast for the Week. On your prep day or when you have a free 20 minutes, fill a roasting pan with chopped or whole cleaned sweet potatoes, beets, and squash. Fill another tray with a mix of Brussels sprouts and cauliflower or broccoli. Toss with a little olive oil and salt, then roast at 350°F until you can slide a knife in easily. Use these over the next four to five days. Having these precious perishables precooked means you will waste far fewer of them.
- Make Soup. Blend heaps of steamed vegetables with broth, salt, garlic, EVOO, and herbs, and presto, you’ll drink more delicious vegetables than you could ever eat in one sitting. (In the heat of summer, you can also make chilled soups.)
- Replace Pasta With Spirals and Strands. Make noodles from spiralized zucchini, winter squash, sweet potato, and more — a very light steam or quick sauté is all it takes. You can also roast a spaghetti squash and scoop out the strands. Or make kelp noodles — sea vegetables, available bagged in most health stores and some supermarkets — your “starchy” strings in warm and soupy broths. While you’re at it, replace rice with the cauliflower kind — it also stands in as the basis for pizza crust.
- Add Vegetables to Everything (and go rogue with recipes). Look for any opportunity to stir spinach into a soup or sauce or scatter broccoli, mushrooms, and cauliflower into a curry or quinoa. Order that side of greens or a salad every time you eat out.
- Master the Meal Hack. Make your too-busy-to-cook dinner staple a bowl of broth with abundant fresh or frozen vegetables and whisked-in egg or other proteins. A dash of liquid aminos or tamari for flavor, and it’s go time.
- Stock the Freezer. Fill it with several kinds of frozen organic vegetables so you never lack the materials for a veggie-filled meal.
- Eat in Technicolor. Use produce to add more colors to your bowl: purple cabbage, orange carrots, red peppers. When you add more colors, you get more protective phytochemicals.
- Follow Good Hashtags. The new eater-friendly trends break on social media. Sweet potato toast instead of grains? That’s just the start. Follow a few feeds like @willfrolicforfood and @ohsheglows, or some of the colorful vegan-oriented feeds. Some of these use considerable grains and sugars, but if you pick your inspiration wisely, you can tap into infinite crafty ways to vegify your diet.
Excerpted from How to Be Well, by Frank Lipman, MD. Copyright © 2018 by Frank Lipman, MD. Illustrations by Giacomo Bagnara. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.