Vegetables also have anti-aging properties, and eating veggies and fruits (seven or more servings daily) has been shown to lower your risk of dying prematurely by 42 percent.[i]
That’s not too shabby for a versatile food group that’s quick to cook, relatively inexpensive to buy, and, when prepared just the right way, can be quite delicious. So why are so many people not eating them?
The latest government data, released July 2015, showed that just one in 10 Americans eat enough vegetables and fruits. Only 9 percent of Americans eat the recommended two to three cups of vegetables daily.[ii] The researchers concluded:[iii]
“Substantial new efforts are needed to build consumer demand for fruits and vegetables through competitive pricing, placement, and promotion in child care, schools, grocery stores, communities and worksites.”
This sounds good on a national level, but what about in your home? You’re probably well aware that you can snack on cut-up carrots and celery as a snack, or get in the habit of eating a side salad with your dinner… but there’s another opportunity to fit in more veggies many people overlook. It’s called breakfast!
Only 1 percent of Americans currently eat vegetables at breakfast, so it’s a missed opportunity for almost everyone.[iv]
When you start your day with a serving (or two) of veggies, you’re setting a healthy tone for the entire day. It’s not as strange as you might think, either. There are actually many tasty ways to add vegetables to your morning meal.
9 Ways to Eat Veggies for Breakfast
1. Veggies with Eggs
Vegetables pair well with eggs of all varieties. Sauté up some mushrooms, onions, green or red pepper, tomatoes, spinach and any others you enjoy and toss them with your scrambled eggs. You’ll only dirty one pan and have a breakfast fit for a king. And you can try this with any type of eggs you enjoy – add veggies to omelets, poached eggs, sunny-side up, over easy, you name it.
2. Breakfast Smoothie
Grab your blender and add in your choice of plain yogurt or kefir, whey protein powder and/or milk. Blend in a banana and some frozen berries, then top it off with whatever leafy greens you have on hand (spinach, romaine, etc.).
You can also blend in one-half to one whole avocado (and sprinkle in a serving of chia or flaxseeds, too). Even steamed beets, broccoli or red cabbage can be added to breakfast smoothies. For inspiration, try this Anti-Cancer Breakfast Smoothie recipe from blogger Carrie Forrest:[v]
Anti-Cancer Breakfast Smoothie
Author: Carrie Forrest, MBA/MPH
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- 3 cups filtered water
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- ½ cup frozen or fresh pomegranate arils
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger
- 4 cups fresh salad greens or lightly steamed kale, spinach, or collard greens
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
- ½ cup frozen raw broccoli florets
- juice of one lime
- Combine hemp seeds and water in a high-speed blender and process on high for 15 seconds.
- Next, add the banana, frozen strawberries, and pomegranate arils and blend on high again.
- Lastly, add the ginger, greens, mint, cocoa powder, flax meal, ground chia seeds, broccoli, and lime juice and blend one last time until smooth. Serve immediately.
3. Breakfast Burrito
Scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa in a tortilla is a decent start, but you can add in more veggies than that… think green pepper strips, sautéed onions, spinach, roasted asparagus, mushrooms and more.
4. Breakfast Salad
Fill a bowl with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and greens, then top it with avocado, a bit of crumbled bacon and two soft-boiled eggs. The bacon and eggs say “breakfast,” and the runny yolk from the eggs makes a tasty warm salad dressing.
5. Quiche or Frittata
These baked egg dishes are thought of more for weekend brunches than weekday breakfasts, but they’re easy to make ahead of time and heat up quickly even when you’re in a hurry. Plus, you can pack in as many veggies as you want. Try this vegetable quiche recipe from Kath Eats Real Food for starters:[vi]
Vegetable Quiche With Homemade Crust
Ingredients (8 slices)
For The Crust
- .25 lb whole wheat pastry flour (about 1 cup)
- .25 lb pastry flour or all purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- .25 lb salted butter (if using unsalted, also add .75 tsp granulated salt)
- 2-4 tbsp ice water
For The Filling
- 3 cups assorted veggies (try kale, fennel and mushrooms) or meat, cooked (use approx .5 tsp kosher salt to season while cooking)
- 6 eggs
- 1.25 cups 2% milk
- .25 tsp kosher salt
For The Crust
- Mix flour and sugar together (and salt if needed) until fully incorporated.
- Add butter and squeeze together until butter bullets are formed.
- Begin by adding 2 tbsp ice water and mixing, adding more if necessary. Mix until a shaggy mass is formed.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out until slightly larger than the diameter of the pie pan.
- Spray pie pan and place crust inside.
- Even crust out, and then shape and flute.
For The Filling
- Preheat oven to 375º F
- Cook fillings, using salt as needed. Set aside.
- Whisk together eggs, milk, and salt.
- Place fillings into finished crust, and then pour egg mixture on top.
- Lightly stir to ensure incorporation.
- Add cheese to top, if using.
- Bake for 40-60 minutes, until liquid is springy and no longer jiggles when nudged, and crust and surface are nicely browned.
6. Veggie-Filled Leftovers
If you had a veggie stir-fry or broccoli soup for dinner last night, there’s no rule that says you can’t heat up a bowl the next morning. In fact, healthy, veggie-filled leftovers make some of the most satisfying and quick breakfast options of all.
7. Loaded Baked Sweet Potato
Pop a large sweet potato in the oven while you’re getting ready. By the time you come downstairs, it will be baked and warm from the oven. Top it with yogurt or sour cream, chopped nuts or seeds, raisins and cinnamon for a sweet yet healthy treat.[vii]
8. Veggie Skillet Breakfast Hash
It’s easy to add sweet potatoes and veggies to a skillet, cook them up and then add an egg or two to the top… and this is a phenomenal way to load up on vegetables first thing in the morning, too. A recipe isn’t necessary, but you can try the one that follows, from How Sweet It Is, for inspiration:[viii]
Brussels Sprouts Breakfast Hash
Yield: serves 3-4
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 10-12 brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced
- 3-4 large eggs
- salt + pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add bacon. Cook until crispy and fat is rendered, then remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel. Slightly reduce the heat under the skillet and add onion and sweet potato, tossing to coat. Cook until sweet potato has softened, about 6-8 minutes, then stir in garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
Add sliced brussels sprouts and stir to combine, cooking them until soft and caramely, another 5 minutes or so. In the meantime, poach or fry eggs, cooking until desired doneness.
9. Savory Pancakes
Pancakes aren’t the healthiest breakfast choice no matter how you cook them, but if you’re going to eat them here’s a twist to try: instead of adding in fruit like blueberries to your batter, stir in shredded vegetables like carrots or zucchini. Then, instead of the syrup top the savory pancakes with yogurt. You’ll get more veggies into your day and you won’t even miss the sugary syrup.
Another Vegetable Benefit – Detoxification
Need another reason to eat more vegetables? Consider how they help kickstart your body’s natural detoxification mechanisms…
For example, asparagus is a known liver detoxifier (and proven hangover helper if you overdid it last night). Steamed collard greens are great for lowering cholesterol. And beets even help repair those overworked liver cells.
Plus, most vegetables tend to be naturally full of fiber to help keep your colon clean… critical for a long, healthy lifespan since a clogged colon continuously feeds toxins into your body.
Eating several servings of vegetables every day will help, but if you’ve been eating unhealthily for awhile you may need an extra boost. For that…