The last three challenges have been about giving something up — sugar, dairy, or meat — but this final challenge is all about adding something to your diet, so you get to eat more, not less! If you feel like you haven't been getting enough veggies lately, for this week's Get Fit For 2014 challenge, we're urging you to add veggies to every meal and snack.
Why You Should Eat More Veggies
Research shows that diets filled with vegetables are healthier for a number of reasons. Veggies are low in calories, so they help you lose or maintain a healthy weight, which can prevent issues linked to obesity such as high-blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Veggies are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which boost your immune system and ward off disease. Their high-fiber content is also a big reason for loading your plate up, to not only keep you regular and prevent bloating, but also get 25 to 30 grams a day, which can reduce your risk of breast cancer. If losing weight is your goal, fiber also fills you up to curb your hunger, so you eat less.
How to Do It
Telling yourself, "I'm going to eat more veggies," is a great first step, but if you want to ensure it actually happens, you need to have a plan, and here it is — add veggies to every meal and snack. Can't see yourself chowing on carrot sticks for breakfast? You don't have to. Here are some easy ways to nosh on veggies throughout your day:
- Try adding spinach to smoothies.
- Make this belly fat smoothie using kale.
- Boost your metabolism with this blueberry smoothie made with broccoli florets and beans.
- Mash some sweet potato into your pancake batter.
- Or make these teal-colored pancakes made with pureed spinach.
- Slice veggies and enjoy with spicy black bean hummus or white bean dip.
- Make these fun and crunchy cucumber tofu rolls.
- Roast edamame for a protein-packed snack.
- Bake a batch of these banana smoothie muffins made with baby spinach.
- Make these honey-roasted cinnamon chickpeas.
Lunch or Dinner:
- Place grilled chicken or fish on a bed of sautéed spinach or kale instead of rice or pasta.
- Mix grated carrots into your turkey burgers, or skip the meat and make these sweet potato black bean patties.
- Add pureed broccoli or other veggies to tomato sauce.
- Double the amount of veggies in recipes to get even more.
- Use carrot fettucine or zucchini noodles instead of one made with whole wheat.
- Make your pizza crust out of cauliflower.
- Another pizza alternative: low-carb zucchini boats.
- Bake decadent vegan fudge brownies with zucchini or spinach.
- Add roasted sweet potatoes to chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
- Make a batch of these irresistible vegan carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
After the Challenge
At the end of the week, assess how your veggie-eating ways make you feel. Do you have more energy? Is your digestive system happier? Did it help curb your sugar cravings or help you lose weight? If you're loving this new way of life, keep it up! Here are some filling vegan soups and meatless sandwiches chock-full of veggies. And for dinner, these vegetarian meals are packed with protein, while these are low in calories.
It's not too late to enter our Get Fit 2014 Giveaway for a chance to win $1,000 worth of Champion Athleticwear and a three-night stay for you and a friend at the tranquil and inspirational Red Mountain Resort in Utah! Follow our 31 Days of Fitness workout program to rock your New Year with daily workouts.