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!
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.
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 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!
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.
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?