The third week of the 6-week Fuel Your Body Nutrition Challenge is here! If you missed the last two challenges, you can read about them here and here. And if you haven’t started yet, don’t worry—you’re not too late. Join us for the upcoming week where our focus will be to eat more veggies.
To get the most out of this nutrition challenge, join our private Facebook group where you can share your experience and get in touch with fellow members of the 12 Minute Athlete Community.
Being a part of the community will not only help you to stay accountable with your own goals, but also see how others are doing, find support, share your successes and struggles and of course, get some great, brand new meal ideas.
Every week, we focus on one thing that helps us to improve our diet and keeps us on the healthy eating track. The focus of the Week 1 was to eat a protein-packed breakfast. Week 2 focused on making smart choices in snacking.
This upcoming Monday, we kick off weekly Challenge #3: Eat Your Veggies. Next week, our goal is to eat a minimum of 1-2 handfuls of veggies in at least two meals.
You have the full weekend to shop and stock up on veggies and get ready for a successful, veggie-packed week. Until then, we’d like to share some ideas on prepping and cooking them.
Nutrition Challenge Week 3: Eat Your Veggies
Nowadays, there are so many diets out there. Vegan, vegetarian, pescaterian, paleo, primal… The list goes on. Many of them seem to compete against each other, one telling you to eat certain foods or food groups that the other one is telling you to avoid at all costs.
There is also a lot of discussion around macronutrients. There are people who believe that low-fat diets work for them and others who swear by high fat, low-carb diets.
But what seems to be common in all of these diets, no matter whether they focus on specific food groups or macros, is that they all encourage you to eat a lot of veggies. No diet will probably ever question the health benefits of vegetables (let’s hope not, anyway).
Veggies Are More Than a Soggy Mix of Leaves
It’s hard to stress the importance of veggies enough. Veggies are so good for you and should form the bulk of your plate, no matter what your other nutrition preferences are.
In this challenge, we encourage you to eat 1-2 handfuls of veggies in at least two meals every day.
Although I crave veggies on a regular basis, many people still don’t like vegetables—in their mind, veggies are just a bunch of soggy mix of tasteless green stuff.
Yet it doesn’t have to be like that at all—there are so many ways to make them taste amazing. You just need to experiment with seasoning, spices and various ways of cooking them.
Make Your Veggies Taste Good
Raw veggies are great. For some of us, it’s not hard at all to polish off a bag of baby carrots in one sitting. But if you are not a fan of raw veggies or you are looking for ways to make them taste better cooked, there are couple of ways how to do it:
Add cooking fat. When you’re cooking your veggies, know that adding a bit of cooking oil or butter can make miracles. Try roasting brussels sprouts or bell peppers with a bit of coconut oil. Add some butter to your steamed green beans. Make your own fries by sprinkling them with olive oil before cooking. The end result is absolutely delicious, and about million a times healthier than restaurant fries.
Cook them together with your meat or protein. If you are a meat eater, you can also cook your veggies in the same pot or baking dish with meat or chicken. The meat adds veggies a nice touch of flavor and a bit of richness. You don’t even need to use extra oil or butter.
Play with seasoning and spices. Minced garlic and ginger are great for adding flavor to veggies. Freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices are great too.
Thyme, oregano and basil are awesome herbs that you can use in salads and when roasting all sorts of vegetables. Fresh herbs are always the best, but if you don’t have them in hand or you don’t feel like putting in extra time into buying and chopping them, you can always use dried herbs or herb mixes.
Keep in mind though that dry herbs and spices don’t keep forever. In general, they stay fresh 1-2 years, so make sure to clean your cabinet of any seasonings that have been sitting around longer than that.
Make Sure You Actually Eat Them Up
So, feeling convinced yet and wanting to officially increase the amount of your veggies in your diet? Maybe that’s even one of your this years’ resolutions. That’s awesome—but it’s good to have a real actionable plan on how to do it. There are couple of things that you can do to ensure that you actually end up eating them:
Eat them first before getting to the rest of your meal. Having the veggies before the grains, meat, fish or whatever else you have on your plate ensures that you will eat them before getting too full from other food that you are having.
Blend them. It’s pretty amazing how many greens you can fit into a one single smoothie. Greens like spinach, kale, or collard greens and veggies like cucumber add a lot of volume to the smoothie without overpowering the taste. If you’re using kale, make sure to remove the stems to avoid bitterness. If you can still taste it a bit, add a spoonful of fresh lemon juice which will neutralize the bitter taste.
Chop them up. Every Sunday (or whatever day fits into your routine better), take some time and chop up a bunch of veggies so that you have them ready for several days ahead. If you have a container of chopped up veggies ready in your fridge, it’s easy to throw them into a soup or make a quick stir-fry.
When you get home at night and are already super hungry, there’s a good chance that rather than doing all the washing, peeling and chopping, you’ll turn to some fast and not-so-healthy frozen or other junk foods instead. So, be prepared.
Invest into a good knife or a veggie chopper. That takes us back to the last point: Chopping veggies may be quite a bit of work, and while there are people who find it even meditative, not everybody enjoys it. To make your life easier, invest into couple of good quality kitchen tools, like a sharp knife or a veggie chopper.
Eat the rainbow. Dark leafy greens are a true nutritional powerhouse, so getting a couple of handfuls in every day goes a long way. But more colors are even better. When you go to the grocery store this weekend to stock up your veggies for the upcoming week, try to pick as many colors as possible.
It’s easy to find green veggies, but look for other colors too, and always be open to try new things. The more colors you have on your plate, the prettier your food looks and the more variety it offers to your taste buds.
Share Your Experience!
If you haven’t checked out the 12 Minute Athlete Nutrition Challenge yet, it’s time to do it! Join 12 Minute Athlete Facebook Group and show us pictures of all the awesome veggies that you are having throughout the next week. The Facebook group is also a place to share your thoughts, comments and struggles if you have them.
We are most excited about seeing those pictures and helping you progress towards your goals 🙂
We would absolutely love if you shared your recipes too, so you can help out those who are struggling with getting enough veggies into their diet.
Remember, our goal is to have at least 1-2 handfuls of veggies with at least two meals every day. But more is always even better!
Now, let’s do this!
Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.
Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.