By Dana Boler

Guest Columnist

In short answer, yes, the tomato sauce on the pizza can be considered a small serving of a vegetable. 

According to the USDA, tomatoes are the second most consumed vegetable in the U.S. (due to high consumption in tomato sauce form). The most consumed vegetable is the potato, averaging almost 50 pounds per person each year! Any guesses on how potatoes are the number one vegetable in the US? French Fries!

June 17 is National Eat Your Vegetables Day. With garden season going strong and fresh produce in stores and at the Farmer’s Markets, I thought it would be the perfect time to highlight why and how to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

Vegetables are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. It is best to eat a variety of colors for optimal amount of nutrients. These nutrients have many health benefits including lowering blood pressure and decreasing heart disease risk, maintaining regular bowel movements, lowering risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and keeping eyes and skin healthy. 

Vegetables are low in fat and calories, which makes them the perfect complement to meals. The federal guidelines suggest eating 2-3 cups of a variety of vegetables each day, yet, Americans average closer to 1 cup per day.

How can you add more vegetables to your daily meals?

1. Add vegetables to your breakfast!

Turkey, Spinach, and Egg Muffins

Makes 6 Muffins

Preheat oven to 375.

Spray muffin tin with olive oil spray. 

In a bowl, combine 4 eggs, ½ cup browned turkey sausage (or turkey sausage links), 1 cup of spinach (cut up), splash of milk, and salt and pepper. Stir well. Evenly distribute into muffin tins. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until firm.

Let cool and enjoy. Other add-in ideas: cheese, peppers, onion, and asparagus.

Better For You-Breakfast Cookies

Makes 8 Cookies

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray baking pan with olive oil spray. In a bowl, mix 1 mashed banana, 1 cup grated and chopped zucchini, ½ cup pumpkin puree (or unsweetened applesauce), 1 egg, 2 cups of quick oats, 2 T. cinnamon, ½ teaspoon baking soda, honey or maple syrup to your liking (I prefer these not too sweet), and any add-ins such as raisins, walnuts, unsweetened coconut. Form into balls on baking sheet and press down lightly. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until light brown on top. Enjoy with a cup of coffee!

2. Try vegetable noodles instead of spaghetti noodles.

3. Stir Fry: Get creative with different vegetable add-ins (mushrooms, corn, asparagus, onion, sugar snap peas, spinach, kale, water chestnuts, etc). 

4. Make a Cauliflower Crusted Pizza and top with a variety of vegetables.

5. Make veggie tacos with roasted sweet potatoes, black beans, or roasted cauliflower for a healthier take on Taco Tuesdays.

6. Instead of a bun, top a cooked sweet potato with pulled chicken, beef, or BBQ pulled pork. Add coleslaw or cooked broccoli. 

7. Burrito Bowls: top brown rice with a variety of vegetables such as corn, black beans, peppers, and onions. 

8. Add spinach to your fruit smoothies.

9. Make veggie kabobs on the grill!

10. Try a black bean or veggie burger and use a lettuce wrap, it may surprise you! 

*Last week’s article should have read “Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day”

Dana Boler is a mom of two boys and a wife on a mission to help others become their best self. She is a Certified Health Coach with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dietetics. Her practice, B Your Best Wellness Coaching is personalized Health Coaching with mental health, physical activity, and nutrition in mind. Follow her for more health related posts on Instagram and Facebook at B Your Best Wellness Coaching and to inquire about Health Coaching.

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