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Nine Cups of Veggies

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Growing up, I remember learning in school that everyone should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Sounds easy enough, right?

Serving sizes were rather confusing, though, with 1 cup of leafy greens = 1 serving, while only 1/2 cup of “other vegetables” = 1 serving. It was also confusing as to what “counted” as a vegetable serving–> I remember cafeteria pizza counting as a healthy dose of vegetables (pizza sauce).

Now, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines recommend adults eat anywhere from 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day depending on age, gender, physical activity, and overall health– or you can simply fill half your plate with fruits and veggies at each meal.

Of course, if you’ll recall our discussion a couple weeks ago, Dr. Wahls cured her debilitating MS by consuming nine cups of vegetables daily.

Yes, nine cups of vegetables. While I know it may sound daunting, I think it also sounds like a fun challenge.

Let’s tackle it today, shall we?


Breakfast is probably the least vegetable-friendly meal of the day for most people. Eggs, bacon and… broccoli? Not likely.

Of course, if you’ve caught on to vegetable juicing, you could nearly reach your vegetable goal by noon!

lemon, cucumber, kale, romaine, and carrots on a cutting board and glass of juiced veggies

But, most people still don’t juice their veggies daily. So, I’m going to not “count” that in our total for today’s experiment.

If you do juice, let’s consider it “extra credit.”

Easier ways to sneak in some veggies at breakfast?

  • Add 1 cup of fresh spinach to your scrambled eggs.
  • Add 1-2 cups of fresh spinach to your breakfast smoothie.
  • Enjoy leftovers for breakfast! Perhaps some leftover quinoa pilaf or a baked sweet potato?


If you include a modest salad at lunch, or ideally, have a salad as the “base” of your lunch, you’ll be well on your way to reaching the 9-cup goal.

salad in a bowl with dressing on the top

This salad is on the smaller side for me, but I think it represents a “standard” size if you were to pick up a salad at a deli or restaurant. Mine is smothered in a homemade goat yogurt ranch dressing (recipe to come!), and I followed it with a couple of fried eggs, but a topping of hard-boiled eggs or a grilled chicken breast would also fill-out this meal nicely.

Other ways to sneak in veggies at lunch:

  • Add an entire avocado on top of your lunch salad. (instead of meat or cheese)
  • Add roasted or steamed veggies to your plate. (I love the texture they add to salads!)
  • Enjoy a green smoothie, with kale, cucumber or spinach blended in.


The window between lunch and dinner always leaves me wanting a snack–> the perfect time to sneak in another cup of veggies!

baby carrots in a measuring cupBaby carrots are an easy go-to, since there’s NO preparation needed! You can enjoy them plain, or dipped in a fun dressing.

Other snack ideas:

  • Cherry Tomatoes (They taste like candy, if they’re in season.)
  • Red Bell Pepper Slices
  • Cucumber Slices (I like to top these with raw goat cheese slices, like crackers!)
  • Celery Sticks, topped with almond butter and raisins
  • Romaine leaves, served with dressing or salsa (like “chips and dip”)


Now it’s time to really reach that goal!

That means another salad–> preferably, a large one.

My dinner salads are always served in a “serving bowl” because a standard bowl just won’t cut it. I actually measured my veggies for this particular salad, using 3 cups of mixed greens as the base, then adding 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup diced beets and 1/2 cup diced bell pepper. 4 1/2 cups of veggies covered in just one salad! I added a grilled chicken breast on top, to fill out the meal.

In case you don’t enjoy salads quite this large, you could always add an extra helping of cooked veggies to your meal instead!

spinach and zucchini in a skillet

Cooked veggies shrink as they cook, making it easier to eat more of them! Cooked in a bit of grass-fed butter, garlic and salt, they’re pretty darn tasty, too.

In fact, they’re quite addictive.

Even without eating a huge salad, Austin often gets a hefty portion of veggies in his usual dinners, too.

bowl of salad and a plate with cooked carrots and sweet potato noodles

His homemade frozen dinners pack quite a veggie-punch!

So, if we add up the totals from these meals, here’s how nine-cups of veggies in a day might look:

Breakfast: 1 cup

(assuming you added 1 cup of greens to your scrambled eggs or smoothie)


Lunch: 3 cups 


Snack: 1 cup


Dinner: 4 1/2 cups

(from the large salad -OR- a smaller salad plus cooked veggies on the side)


9 1/2 cups total!

And if you started your day with a fresh vegetable juice, I’d say you’re more than covered…

So, what do you think? Does 9 cups of veggies each day seem “do-able” for you?

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

Great post Megan!! I don’t have a problem getting my daily veggie dose (in fact, I think I probably get about 3 cups at breakfast alone thanks to my smoothies and juices) but I know that a lot of people do struggle with it. I also love veggie omelettes in the morning, stuffed with zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes (ok i guess that’s a fruit), peppers, and lots of salsa! It’s funny that you mentioned the pizza sauce, because one of my friend’s boyfriends refuses to eat veggies unless they come in pizza sauce form!


    I’m totally counting tomatoes as a “veggie,” even though I technically know better. 😉 Your omelet sounds delicious. I love adding salsa to my eggs!


Hi Megan,

First time I see somebody else other than me eating her salad out of a serving bowl!! High five!

I will share this with my family.



Great post! I definitely do not have a problem getting my veggies in. I know the rest of my family probably does though. They are not the biggest veggie eaters around.


    My family sounds like yours, too! I think I’m starting to influence them, though. 😉


I found some great salad bowls at Fred Meyer! I think that they are technically serving bowl size but I bought 2 of them in white and they are perfect for our huge salads!


Oh and I am totally going to track my veggie intake tomorrow and see how many cups I get a day!

Gabby @ the veggie nook

I think when some people see those guidelines they get so overwhelmed! You made it seem completely do-albe. Awesome :). I’m going to try and add up my vegetable intake tomorrow and see where I fall! I think I’ll be ok- green smoothies and serving-bowl-sized salads are a regular around here too.

Such a great post!


    Thanks, Gabby! I was actually surprised to see how do-able it was, too. 🙂 Sounds like you’ll have no problem reaching that goal, either!

Casey (The Hippie Health Nut)

I finally got in the habit of adding a different leafy green to my eggs every morning. It’s a perfect way for me to kick start the day. Your ideas are great ways to add in more!


love your blog, I check it every morning! just a quick question on your post today. do you cook your beet or just eat them raw in your salads?


    Thanks, Madelyn! Lately, I’ve been buying the pre-steamed beets from Trader Joe’s, which are ready-to-go on my salads. 🙂


great post very inspiring


i usually also make a big pot of vegetable soup on the weekend and it’s a great snack in the afternoon or while i am making dinner (that is my weak time of the day…i’m famished and need something while i’m cooking!). it’s a great way to use up whatever is left in the bottom of the crisper, too! my fave: cabbage, leek, tomato, carrot, spinach all cooked with homemade veggie broth and tons of italian spices. sometimes i will puree this too, makes a nice comforting meal 🙂


    That soup sounds delicious! I like to snack while I prepare dinner, too– it keeps me sane and satisfied. 😉


Way to break it down…I definitely think it’s doable…at least on most days!


    Agreed on the “most days” part– I don’t think I reach it every day! But, it’s a good goal. 🙂

Julie (A Case of the Runs)

My stomach definitely wouldn’t like to eat 9 cups of veggies a day… if I eat much more than 20 grams of fiber a day, I go crazy. But it’s definitely something that I know would be good for me!


Great challenge! I have never heard of sweet potato noodles before. Do you make them yourself or buy them? They sound really yummy 🙂


    I do make them myself, using this spiral slicer:

    I like to make big batches over the weekend, then freeze them into individual portions for quick weeknight meals. 🙂


I’m really interested in juicing but don’t own a juicer. My blender doesn’t work too well. Has anyone tried the NutriBullet extractor? Does it it produce equally nutritious juice?


    Follow up. So, the order is juice 1st, 2nd have the blended salad via the use of a hand blender – I don’t liquidate it, 3rd have the soup.
    This way you get raw juice, raw blended whole food salad, and finally some cooked whole vegetables.

    Dawn Oliver

    Yes I use the nutribullet machine, similar one and the smoothies are excellent even in taste. I use kale that I grow, silverbeet, green apple, handful of herbs I grow including mint, green grapes and a spoonful of apple cider vinegar and a spoon of flaxseed. The spinach or silverbeet and kale and mint really make it tasty. I steam beetroot whole and use them too. If I have cucumber that goes in. 700 ml of nutrients every wake-up.There is approximately 500 ml of nutrients. 2 – 3 cups of vegies plus apple/grape. .


I just found your page today and I’m in love already! I was totally digging it but then I found this post. Other than my husband, I’ve never met anyone else who uses a “serving” bowl for a salad bowl! We’ve been doing it for years.

I can’t wait to try some of the baked recipes for my 3 year old. I’m also going to look into the sweet potato noodles!

Thank you!


i do not believe this much fiber is good for us at all!! i used to eat like this as a fruitarian but was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 6 months later. i blame it on the high fiber diet.

granted, a little fiber is okay, but it’s more for the taste and not for health benefits.

after reading the book, “fiber menace,” lots of diseases are caused from consuming too much fiber.

Julie hill

I thought I was the only one that ate my salad out of a serving bowl! Nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂

Julie hill

I just bought a NutraBullet, so far I really like it, and its super easy to use and clean up is a snap.

But what I really like is the Dessert bullet!!! Its awesome. It actually makes plain frozen fruit taste like ice cream! My favorite recipe is 1/2 portion of frozen mangos and 1/2 portion of frozen pineapple and 1 small frozen banana, cut in pieces. (cut banana into pieces and then freeze in a plastic bag). Mix the fruit together and put it through the machine. That’s all there is to it… The bananas make it really creamy. Yummy!


One way like t o ac complish this 9 serving goal is to take a large mixing bowl and chop up a bunch of veggies and 2/3 go into the tall mixing /measuring bowl, while 1/3 to a pot for soup. Blend the salad.


Yes, the Nutribullet is amazing and great for travel. So light. I took it to Mexico when I had to go.
1. Very light.
2. Quiet compared to a blender.
3. Great for smoothies, blended salads
4. Not a juicer, though.
5. Works well for one or two servings, so you don’t have to make a whole blender full, or a minimum amount just to get it to blend.


I love this break down!! would you mind if I used it to help out one of my clients? I’m a wellness coordinator and currently one of my clients is doing a fruit and veggie challenge and I would love to use this breakdown to show their employees how to increase their veggie intake. I would definitely site you and your website

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