Eat Your Veggies!

January 28, 2009

Eating lots of vegetables isn’t a big problem for me in the summer months. There’s so much variety that munching on them raw or having gloriously huge salads is a delight. But come winter? Forget about the veggies, I’m all about the grains.

Between oatmeal, popcorn, and grilled sandwiches, I get more grains than is necessary. I love bread. Present me with a warm biscuit or scone and I’m your girl. Hot buttered toast, plates of steaming pasta, quinoa with chickpeas and lots of spices… you get the idea. Grain overload.

Grains make for a fantastic comfort food. They also seem to make you warmer. If I eat lots of grains in one day, I’ll feel about 10 lbs heavier. Just a couple servings and I swear I’m swimsuit ready.

So the big challenge in these cold winter months is how to not eat my body weight in grains and how to eat enough vegetables to prevent me from getting scurvy. Remembering that I’m not exactly the most accomplished cook (that’s code for I’m usually lazy and can’t be bothered to make fancy dishes plus good quality vegetables are damn expensive this time of year), I’ve got to find easy ways to get in my vegetables.

Right now, I have a huge thing for massive bags of frozen mixed vegetables- the kind with sliced carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. Throw a pile of them onto the steamer and 10 minutes later you’ve got them on a plate. Grind lots of black pepper on top and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on there and voila! Hot veggies.

The frittata I made is another great way to get in some extra vegetables. The key with this one is to let the spinach get really small in the pan and shrivel up, and then throw handfuls more on it. I made a bigger one for me and my sister last week and we put in an entire 1/2 bag of spinach in there- it shrinks down to nothing!

Use a George Foreman to grill vegetables that are starting to wilt in your fridge. This is a good one for asparagus- I always intend to make elaborate prosciutto-wrapped asparagus or similar but somehow never get around to it. But they taste great grilled and it takes all of about 2 minutes.

I’m terrible at making stirfry, but that’s another good way to get in lots of vegetables. You can also mix up a whole bunch of veggies in a pan with some quinoa, or just pile them on when you’re cooking pasta. Rather than top your acorn squash with butter and sugar, mash it up in a bowl and mix in some other cooked vegetables too (save yourself the sugar and fat!). Load on the vegetables on your sandwiches, eat your peanut butter with celery rather than bread, and throw in a ton of vegetables in your soups and stews.

Also remember that corn is a grain, not a vegetable. For some reason we tend to think of it as a vegetable. And if you’re looking for a pasta alternative, try some Tofu Shiritake Noodles! I had them just once (found them at a specialty store); it was only $2.50 for a package and they tasted great with Laughing Cow light cheese and smoked salmon. I need to restock my fridge with a few more packages because I was really impressed with those noodles and I bet they’d taste great with lots of vegetables. If the idea of tofu scares you, just remember that pasta is bland and doesn’t taste like anything anyway- when we eat it, we’re eating it for the creamy sauces and other toppings we put on it. You’re not going to notice the difference.

And you? What’s your favorite ways to get in some vegetables in the winter (especially if they don’t have much flavor this time of year)? Got any good tips for not eating grains for breakfast lunch and dinner? Share them in the comments!


  1. Yay for veggies!!! There’re so many ways to get ’em in– soups, fries (like my recent posts about butternut squash fries), scrambles, muffins/breads, etc.

  2. I’ve noticed I eat more grains in the winter too. Actually, year round. I love my grains!

    But definitely trying to throw in some vegetables into the mix is good too!

  3. Gotta eat those vegetables. These days you can find something in season at the grocer year round. Of course frozen are good also.

  4. Love the veggies; usually do the fresh broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus steamed, grilled or sautΓ©ed in olive oil. Beets, turnips, beans, and Brussels sprouts are high on the list too.

  5. HELL YES FOR VEGETABLES!! As VeggieGirl, I obviously love them too πŸ˜€

    Favorite vegetables in the winter = brussels sprouts, broccoli & sweet potatoes.

  6. thank goodness for baby carrots. I can eat those relatively cheaply year round. a little dip or hummus – treat! I actually am a big fan of the stir-fry. Though it’s a lot of prep to cut all the veggies, it’s sooo good and it can be JUST vegetables!

  7. Luckily for me I live in California where we get lots of great veggies all year long.

  8. Stirfrys and squash fries!! (Hey, that rhymes)

  9. I freeze fresh corn and peaches in the summer for a winter treat. It’s a bit time consuming, but there’s nothing like a little taste of summer in the dead of winter! Root veggies are great in winter – turnips (if you like that kind of thing), sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots – as are hardy veggies like broccoli and cauliflower. I like to throw them in quiches or frittatas (I WILL be trying yours!), but I also like to roast, steam, or boil them and have them as a side dish all to themselves.

  10. I’m like you – all about the grains in winter! I have to say though I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE for those shiritaake noodles to no avail! Sigh:(

  11. I didn’t like veggies much as a kid, but over time I acquired the taste, and now I like them!! I have lots of salads, and steamed veggies, and I don’t even need to put cheese on them πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the reminder!!

  12. I totally love the parm on hot veggies trick myself-particularly broccoli πŸ™‚ I also love pureeing frozen veggies into a quick soup. Just nuke them in the microwave and throw in the blender with a little hot water or chicken broth, and voila.

  13. Love veggies!!
    I froze peas from the garden this year and we just had some the other night. Oh, oh, so good!

    Great ideas here, Sagan.

  14. Chocolatecoveredvegan- mmm yes. You have all kinds of good looking recipes on your site.

    Sharon- grains are just so darn tasty. And EASY.

    James- I can’t wait til summer for the variety of vegetables that will be available!

    Tom & Maggie- sounds tasty.

    VeggieGirl- I adore sweet potatoes. Brussel sprouts, not so much.

    Randi- I’m such a carrot addict, could easily eat my way through a bag a day if I let myself!

    Big Girl- am on my way to California.

    Cathy- roasted is such a great way to cook them.

    Charlotte- I found mine at a grocery store that is part of a Japanese restaurant- got anywhere like that near you?

    Dr. J- I get so excited when my tastes change and I start liking vegetables I used to dislike. I missed out on years of goodness with tomatoes.

    Rachel- love that idea. It could be a really creamy soup too!

    Bag Lady- mmm that would be excellent. Peas are so good.

  15. Funny getting a lot of colorful veggies has been on mind lately! I love grilling vegetables with a little sea salt and olive oil!

  16. Great tips on getting in the veggies. It is difficult in the winter time. Thanks for the reminder! I love adding veggies to soups!

  17. My trick is frozen as well. We actually go through 5 bags of frozen blueberries (I eat frozen fruits and veggies) every week. Don’t tell anyone. πŸ˜‰

  18. I love a warming morrocan style casserole – using chicken, and then a selection of onion, sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, green lentils etc, with chicken stock, black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. Yum!

  19. Oh my, i LOVE me some carbs, all year round. But at the same time, I LOVE raw veggies. These are great tips Sagan for getting them in! Thanks!

  20. Veggies yes! Have to have the veggies! πŸ™‚ Grapenuts?

  21. I’m weird in that I don’t really like many cooked vegetables, so I rely on the Big Salad (and I do mean BIG) to fill my veggie needs. Fortunately, I never get tired of them. πŸ™‚

  22. Terrific topic, Sagan. I, too, eat less veggies during the winter months and up my grain intake. But bags of frozen veggies are very convenient, I must say. I just need to remember to eat them more often! πŸ™‚

  23. Stir frys are my go to in order to get my veggies in – a good stir fry sauce helps though!

    I use a brand called Wonnie’s and its a Korean spicy bbq sauce – best part is that its only 20 calories a tablespoon!

  24. Jolene- lots of color makes it all the more interesting.

    Strongandhealthy- soup is fantastic!

    Juliet- you’re my hero πŸ™‚

    Jellybean- oh my goodness that sounds amazing. Do you have an actual recipe for it or is it more of a throw-everything-in type of dish?

    Rupal- carb addict, right here.

    Mark- I haven’t had grapenuts yet! Need to get on that.

    Cammy- Big Salad is always good stuff!

    Zandria- those frozen veggies are my savior.

    Biz319- mmm bbq sauce, tasty tasty.

  25. I love Italian food, so one of my favorite ways to get in my veggies is to roast a big pan of red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms and broccoli, and top it off with a nice healthy marinara that I make myself.

    I don’t even miss the pasta :-).

  26. LOL!! Sagan, I loved your comment on Rupal’s great post on Mizfit’s about the core! When I lived in France, the public W.C. was not so easy as in the USA! I used to run in a park, and on one occasion, with no money, I had to “core” it in their facilities. At least the only thing moving was me, unlike WHAT you had to deal with πŸ™‚

  27. I tend to do lots of soups and similar things that I can add veggies to. This time of year I find the salad fixings in the stores are not that great, but raw veggies with dinner are good – I like cucumber, bell pepper and cauliflower.

  28. I reallllly struggle with this, too! I feel like I don’t eat as much fruit in the winter, either. I CRAVE it like mad in the summer, though. For veggies, soups are always good idea. For a quickie, I love frozen veggies with the Garlic Herb Mrs. Dash. YUM!

    I didn’t know that about corn! Of course it’s one of my faves. πŸ˜‰

  29. Hey Sagan, I’ve posted the original moroccan chicken recipe on my blog for you πŸ˜‰ Its a slow cooker (crock pot?!) recipe but can be adapted for a normal oven. Its seriously tasty!

  30. Holy crap, I need the veggie police. I can’t stop! Im all about the roasted veg in the winter months. Only, I can’t really say we get much of a winter down here in Florida! Also, soups would be great way! Pureed especially!

  31. Dara- that’s a great idea! Pasta is just like a drawing board anyway.

    Dr. J- hahaha yes it gets tricky with those foreign toilets… pitch black on a moving train in Eastern Europe is an experience like no other.

    JavaChick- mmm cucumber is good stuff, haven’t had that in a while.

    Holly- I go way overboard on apples and bananas year round (add them to lots of oatmeal in the winter:D). Can’t go wrong with the flavor of garlic and herbs (on veggies. Not fruit. That might be kinda gross).

    Jellybean- you are such a sweetheart! I’ll check it out right away. I need some good recipes for my crockpot:)

    Caroline- hmm, maybe we should start an accountability system here to make sure we’re all getting in our greens!

  32. I’m completely addicted to roasted cauliflower. I just cut up a head into bite sized pieces, toss with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper and bake in the oven on a flat baking tray at 400 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with parm cheese when it comes out of the oven and I have to fight my husband for my half of the tray.

  33. I feel the same way man! I am trying to eat veggies more than pasta and bread and oats and bars and ohhh the list can go on an on! I do not even live in a cold part of the US and I feel your pain! I am trying to balance the veggies with all the other cravings! I love raw veggies and grilled veggies- I need a BBQ!

  34. Tofu Shiritake Noodles? I must try these!

    I’m actually craving more veggies than usual, but living in California they seem to be pretty readily available.

    Thanks for the tips!

  35. Scale Junkie- that sounds really delicious. I don’t often get a head of cauliflower (because its in my frozen bag of mixed veggies) but I am definitely going to try making this!

    Cassandra- mmm BBQ is the best. George Foreman is a cheaper and easier stand-in replacement, though πŸ˜€

    Crabby- hate you for living in California! (kidding. It’s all love:)). Tofu Shiritake noodles are really good. Hungry Girl’s got loads of recipes for them too.

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