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Calorie Count Blog

Tips and Recipes for Eating More Vegetables

Posted on Jan 04, 2014 09:00 AM in Dieting & You

Guest Post by The Nutrition Twins®: Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse ("Lyssie") Lakatos

Most people realize they need more veggies, but tend to leave them out of their meals.  They simply need a little help or encouragement to actually get them! Once people see how easily vegetables can be deliciously incorporated into their lives, they start to bump up their intake.  Besides making/ordering omelets, sandwiches, pizzas, wraps and burritos with veggies added, one of the best things you can do at any meal is order (or microwave from frozen at home if short on time) a side of steamed veggies without added butter or oil.  Simply mix them right in whatever meal you are eating and you’ll add great texture, flavor and color to your meal and the veggies will pick up the flavor from the sauce in the meal.  Chinese Chicken and rice? Pasta and chicken?  Mac ‘n cheese? You end up eating less of the heavy stuff and fill your stomach with the lower calorie, fiber-and nutrient packed veggies.  Added bonus: If you’re a fan of large helpings you can bag a third of the meal for later and mix the veggies right in the portion you have and you’ll fill your stomach with nutrients and fiber but without extra calories.  This way you won’t feel cheated or deprived because your meal won’t appear smaller, only your waistline will!

Other ways to get more veggies?  Use nori or lettuce for traditional sandwiches or wraps rather than carb-rich bread.  Eat your rice and other grain-based meals by putting them in cups made with veggies-like scooped out tomatoes and bell peppers, zucchini and cucumber boats—these are delicious shells for the carbs and help to keep the carb portion in check (we have several recipes that do this in our new book, The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure). You can also easily make dips and spreads with spinach and yogurt—we have many veggie based dips that can double as sauces for grains and meats and are perfect for dipping veggies).

Here are a few more ideas for increasing your veggie intake:

  • Sprinkle seaweed over salads, chicken or fish, in sandwiches and in soups to add crunch and texture, vitamin C and A. Although the seaweed snacks taste salty, they have just 30-60 mg per serving so it’s a great way to jazz up any food that you may normally add a salty condiment to.
  • Top baked potatoes with steamed vegetables (especially broccoli and spinach) and baked spaghetti squash with tomato sauce to boost lycopene intake.  Tomato sauce has 4 times the lycopene as fresh tomatoes!
  • Mix pureed canned pumpkin into oatmeal and add cinnamon.  Pumpkin is packed with beta carotene and fiber and it’s a great way to sneak the nutrition of a veggie into breakfast.  Cinnamon has blood sugar lowering benefits.  We also sometimes mix this combo into yogurt and occasionally add a touch of brown sugar or honey to the pumpkin.
  • Use our “Red, Green and Orange Rule” to include one red, green or orange vegetable or fruit in every meal. When you concentrate on getting one of these colors at each meal, you won’t forget.  Vegetables are an excellent source of disease-fighting nutrients and are high in fiber and low in calories, and great for helping maintain a healthy weight and fighting aging. 

Fine tune your produce choices by focusing on your health or beauty goals.  Choose those veggies that are best for you—if you want to beat bloat, boost your mood, lose weight, fight cancer, reduce stress, etc., check out our new book, The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure: Expert Advice and Tantalizing Recipes for Health, Energy and Beauty where we name the specific vegetables that are best for what you want and provide more than 100 corresponding recipes—so there’s many ways to use our Red, Green and Orange Rule. The Tomato and Basil Bruschetta recipe below is just one sample!

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

This bruschetta was inspired by a recipe from our favorite Italian restaurant.  The olive oil enhances the absorption of the lycopene from the tomatoes for maximum skin benefits.  This recipe is great for calming any skin trauma or acne while also protecting against the sun’s damaging rays.  

Ingredients:  (Serves 6 - 1 serving = 4 Brochettes)

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pints grape tomatoes
Sprinkle black pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic (approximately 4 cloves garlic)
3 sprays olive oil from spray bottle
1 long French baguette
4 finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup finely sliced basil
Salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil into a baking pan and tilt pan until oil covers bottom of pan.  Pour in tomatoes and mix so oil covers tomatoes.  Lightly sprinkle black pepper over tomatoes and add garlic.  Spray olive oil on top and mix until garlic, pepper and oil is evenly spread throughout.
  3. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes to allow flavors to mingle as some tomatoes burst.
  4. Slice bread into approximately 24, 1/4- 1/3-inch slices.  Toast lightly. 
  5. Remove tomato mixture and put in a large bowl and add scallions, basil and salt.  Mash tomatoes well, being careful not to get burnt by the hot “insides” of the tomatoes. Mix well and spread on top of bread. 

Nutrition Facts:

Per serving (analyzed without salt to taste) of tomato and basil topping: Calories 47, fat 3g; saturated fat 0g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 7mg; carbohydrates 5g; fiber 2g; sugars 3g; protein 1g.

Per serving (analyzed without salt to taste) with 4 pieces of baguette: 139 calories, fat 3g; saturated fat 0g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 215mg; carbohydrates 23g; fiber 2g; sugars 4g; protein 5g.

Percent Daily Value: Vitamin A 22% Vitamin C 26% Calcium 4% Iron 10%.

About the Nutrition Twins:

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse ("Lyssie") Lakatos, The Nutrition Twins®, are twin sisters and nationally recognized registered dietitians and personal trainers with 15 years of experience helping thousands of clients boost their energy naturally, get healthier, happier and into tip-top shape. Through their books, media appearances, nutrition counseling, lectures and blogs, they've built a brand that empowers people to take charge of their health and make changes that last a lifetime. Order their newest book The Nutrition Twins’ Veggie Cure today! 

Your thoughts…
What are your favorite ways of incorporating veggies into meals? 


Comment Removed

Eating veggies and adding this or that always sounds great when I read it!!  But I have found keeping the necessary vegetables for a family of 3 on hand to have red, green and orange for ALL meals - that is out of my price range.  I find that healthy eating - fish, vegetables and Ezekial bread (without sugar and additives) - is almost out of reach.  Does anyone find the same challenge?

I do find that eating vegetables can be expensive and difficult if you can't shop frequently. I have found that the cheapest vegetables that last a long time in the fridge or on the counter are carrots, cauliflower, winter squash like acorn or butternut, onions, and cabbage. Many vegetables that don't last as long in the fridge taste great frozen and are usually not too expensive: peas, green beans, lima beans, spinach, summer squash, broccoli. There are a few vegetables that are quite good canned to keep in the pantry: tomatoes, beets, black-eyed peas. If you buy store brands and shop specials, you can save on canned and frozen items. I also tend to make batches of vegetables, like zucchini cooked with canned tomatoes and garlic, and freeze them for later, since zucchini is not one of the long-lasting vegetables but is very cheap in season. You can also grate zucchini and freeze it in portions. It is great to add to meatloaf or pasta sauces for extra nutrition without overpowering your recipes. I also roast red and yellow peppers and freeze them, since they also don't keep too long in the fridge.

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