September Challenge: Eat lots of veggies.

Vegetables contain essential nutrients that:

  • Reduce oxidative stress,
  • Lower inflammation,
  • Improve liver detoxification,
  • Keep pH balance in check and,
  • Support digestion.

Many of the essential vitamins, minerals, fibers and phytonutrients in vegetables are not concentrated in other foods, and so you must eat veggies to reap their benefits. No supplement or powder can replace real vegetables.Despite the huge benefit to eating plenty of veggies, and nearly every health agency advocating for increased vegetable consumption, people in the US eat only about one cup per person per day. No wonder we have so many health problems!September Veggie Challenge:

  • Eat 8 servings of non-starchy vegetables daily.
  • 1 serving is 1/2 cup cooked or chopped vegetables, 2 cups leafy green vegetables, or 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs.

What are Non-Starchy Vegetables?

  • Non-starchy vegetables are the best sources of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, chlorophyll and phytonutrients in our diet.
  • Non-starchy vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, radish, celery, cucumber, kale, swiss chard, zucchini, jicama, kohlrabi, fennel, onion, garlic, green beans, salsa, bell peppers, cabbage and beets.

What are Starchy Vegetables?

  • Starchy vegetables are not included in the goal of 8 servings of non-starchy vegetables.
  • Starchy vegetables include corn, beans, lentils, green peas, butternut squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, acorn squash, turnips and parsnips.
  • These foods are very good for our bodies, and should be included in most diets, but they are carbohydrate-rich foods and therefore are not as concentrated in phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber as the non-starchy vegetables.

Veggie Challenge StrategiesHere are some tips to meet and beat the Veggie Challenge. How many of these healthy habits do you have? How many can you incorporate this month?

  • At every meal fill half your plate with vegetables. This strategy is easy to visualize and helps to balance your plate at each meal.
  • Include vegetables at breakfast. For example, along with omega-3 eggs cooked to your liking, you could have a side of sliced tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic, or top the eggs with salsa, pico de gallo or tomato garlic sauce. You could also serve eggs with sautéed greens, cooked broccoli or leftover roasted vegetables.
  • Have a green drink. Make a smoothie with 1/4 cup water, 4 ice cubes or 1/2 frozen apple, 1-2 cups greens, 1 carrot and 1/4 inch piece of ginger. More green drink ideas here.
  • Snack on vegetables. Some of my favorite snacks are: a baggie of radishes, sliced cucumbers and cherry tomatoes, or whole carrots dipped in natural peanut butter. I also often have leftover cooked or roasted vegetables for a snack.
  • Aim for salad at least once a day. Make a salad for dinner and while making the dinner salad, pack a salad for lunch the next day. Salad is also a great snack! Make it colorful and top it off with an olive oil or organic canola oil based dressing.
  • Include a salad and cooked vegetables. Aim for at least one meal a day to include steamed or sautéed or roasted vegetables along with a colorful salad. Our bodies need both cooked and raw vegetables.
  • Put at least two colors on your plate at each meal or snack. The colorful pigments in vegetables are visually appealing, and contain the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrient compounds that dramatically improve health. Each color contains unique phytonutrients and so eating a variety of colorful vegetables provides you more health benefits. Interestingly these colorful pigments also contain the compounds that give vegetables their flavor.
  • Check out The Featured Articles & Recipes highlight some of my favorite veggie dishes and salads. You can also click on "Veggies" under Topics for delicious ideas.
  • Make organic a priority. Every year a new list comes out identifying produce that is highest in pesticides. What questions do you have about organic? I’ll answer your questions and post an updated Organic Priority List this month.

Strive to incorporate as many of these ideas into your lifestyle as you can. What ideas can you add to this list? How do you incorporate veggies into your diet? Post a comment and inspire others!Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.