Growing up the veggies I got at the dinner table usually came from the freezer. Those bags of frozen mixed veggies- the little green beans, cubes of carrots, etc- you know the ones I mean! If it wasn’t that it was an iceberg lettuce salad loaded with french dressing.
While I still love french dressing, I’m not such a big fan of those frozen veggies and flavourless salads. My veggie repertoire has seriously expanded since then and I’m proud to say I now love most veggies that I hated before.
It’s a good thing too because the veggies I eat daily have a big role to play in balancing my hormones and generally helping me to feel strong, healthy and mentally balanced.
Do You Feel Like. . .
A grumpy mess?
An elderly person because you’re always so tired?
A fat blob that can’t stop eating sugar no matter what?
Choosing what to eat is an ancient cypher you just can’t crack?
You’re in hormone hell?
Then, I’m Willing to Bet You’re Not Eating Enough Veggies.
If you’re not eating any (or enough) then you’re not going to feel so good. Here’s why.
More Veggies = Happy Hormones
Veggies contain a whole laundry list of vitamins. Each veg has a whole bunch, and when you eat a variety, you can be sure that you’re getting what your body needs to make and balance hormones.
Vitamin C found in bell peppers, broccoli, swiss chard and spinach is anti-inflammatory, can help to increase progesterone and support your adrenals glands to manage stress more effectively.
Vitamin B5 found in mushrooms, avocado, sweet potato and broccoli support your adrenals glands to manage stress effectively, increase energy and assist fat metabolism.
Vitamin B6 found in sweet potato, spinach, cabbage and cauliflower helps your body produce progesterone, reduces water retention, may help with depressive or erratic moods and liver detoxification.
Beta Carotene the precursor to Vitamin A found in carrots, sweet potato, spinach and kale is anti-inflammatory, a thyroid-supportive nutrient and may help reduce heavy menstrual bleeding.
Like vitamins, minerals are abundant to veggies. We need a wide variety of minerals to help us balance hormones, improve our emotional state and increase our energy. I find clinically that minerals are often an afterthought- we focus on the vitamins the proteins, fats and carbs and forget about minerals. Regardless, we need them in droves for our hormones!
Magnesium, a super abundant mineral found in spinach, swiss chard, collard greens and beets is used in over 300 body processes, including balancing blood sugar, supporting the adrenal glands, relaxing muscle contraction (think cramps and tense muscles) and regulates mood.
Zinc, found in spinach, mushrooms, asparagus and green peas is essential for clear skin, balanced mood, healthy hair, thyroid support, immune-boosting and healthy testosterone.
Selenium found in mushrooms, asparagus, cabbage and spinach supports activation of thyroid hormone, works as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation and free-radicals, and may help with energy production.
Sometimes carbs get a bad wrap. True, if you eat too many of the wrong types of carbs, you’ll likely gain weight or experience some other type of health issue. However, the right types of carbs (and any food, really) can be enjoyed without guilt. Specifically, I’m talking about veggie-based carbs. Some veggies are considered non-starchy, and others starchy.
You’ll want to eat as many non-starchy veg as you possible can, as they’ll fill you up with fibre and loads of nutrients. Here’s some good examples of non-starchy veggies:
* Leafy greens of all types
* Onions and garlic
* Green beans
Starchy veggies have their place in the diet as well, and I usually recommend getting them mostly at dinner time.
* Winter squash like butternut and acorn
* Spaghetti squash
* Yams and/or sweet potatoes
* Corn (organic and non-GMO)
* Green peas
9 Ways to Eat More Veggies – Even If You Hate Them!
#1: Add Puréed Veggies
You can hide so many vegetables in your food by simply cooking and pure ingredients them. For example, stir some pureed cooked carrots, sweet potato or pumpkin into your favourite tomato sauce- you’ll never know it’s there! Another option is to stir these pureed veggies into your morning breakfast porridge- you can see how it’s done in my Pumpkin Porridge recipe by clicking here.
#2: Try an Unconventional Salad
A lot of the women I work with as private clients and in my 21-Day Happy Hormones Diet program aren’t huge fans of salad. They’re boring, they take forever to chew and really- who needs ’em? While I can’t totally relate as I LOVE salad, there is a better way that mixing some lettuce with carrots, cucumber and tossing with a store-bought gelatinous dressing.
There’s two ways to have an unconventional salad that I think you’ll love.
1) Warm Salad
Warm salads are amazing, especially during colder months. An example of a warm salad would be a bed of baby spinach that you top with warm grilled chicken, sautéed peppers and onions and a nice balsamic vinaigrette. Feel free to sauté any veggie you like, and you don’t even have to put it on a bed of greens if that’s not your thing.
2) Chopped Salad
Chopped salads are great. Simply put these salads are harder veggies (typically not leafy stuff) all chopped up to be a similar size and mixed together with a dressing. The recipe for Hormone Detox Salad you’ll see below is so good and so popular that I include it as a recipe in my 21-Day Happy Hormones Diet program.
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- ½ head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1 pear or apple, grated
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- ½ bunch cilantro, minced
- ½ bunch parsley, minced
- 2 lemons, juiced
- ¼ cup Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar (omit if you have acid reflux)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the dressing. Preparing the dressing first allows the flavors to intermingle before using it on your salad.
- Add the lemon juice, Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar, olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to a container with a lid. Shake vigorously until well blended.
- Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
- Allow the dressing to sit for at least 15 minutes before dressing your salad.
- Toss the salad. It is important to chop your broccoli and cauliflower into small pieces for easier digestion. You can also blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute if raw broccoli makes you feel bloated or gassy. Try pulsing it in a food processor, or use a sharp knife to chop it down to bite-sized pieces.
- Add the broccoli and cauliflower to a large salad bowl along with shredded carrot, chopped pear or apple, cilantro and parsley.
- Add enough dressing to coat the salad, but not drown it. Mix thoroughly.
- Add any of the suggested toppings if desired. Enjoy!
- Suggested salad toppings: diced avocado, dried cranberries or currants, sunflower seeds and/or sprouts of your choice.
#3: Zoodles (+ Other Plant Noodles)
Seriously, go out and buy a veggie spiralizer right now. It will be the best $20 you’ve ever spent. You can make noodles out of nearly any hard veggie using this device, and may I say that everything tastes way better shaped as noodles. For example, I normally don’t really like zucchini but some zucchini noodles “zoodles” lightly sautéed and topped with a sauce and protein is one of my favs ways to get this veggie. You can also make noodles out of sweet potatoes, beets, carrots and more.
#4: 5-Minute Dinner Greens
A lot of times we don’t eat enough veggies because we think it takes too much time. Who has time to roast/cook some veggies when pasta cooks in 10 minutes. The truth is veggies can be extremely quick, they’re the original fast food! Whether you’re eating them raw or cooked, you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen.
One of my favourite ways to get more hormone-loving greens in me is to lightly sauté them and serve underneath some baked fish or chicken with a little sweet potato or other starchy on the side for dinner.
Below you’ll find my 5-minute dinner greens recipe. Feel free to swap out any green leafy veggie you prefer! The trick is to cook them until they’re bright green in colour- faster for things like spinach and longer for heartier greens like collards. Don’t overcook- if their colour turns dull, you’ve left it in the pan too long.
- 2 cups leafy greens per person (kale, collards, swiss chard, spinach, etc), chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (or more if making a large amount)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Seasonings of choice (IE paprika, lemon juice, oregano, etc)
- In a pan heated over medium-high heat, melt one tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil.
- Add the chopped greens
- Saute 3-5 minutes until greens are bright green and slightly wilted (spinach will become very wilted)
- Season as you wish and serve!
#5: Soup – Two-Ways
I’m writing this in winter, so naturally I’m feeling soups. Soups are a fantastic and healing food that can be really easy to hide veggies in. Pour in some of those pureed veggies to thicken your soup, or use one of the following 2 methods for quick soup.
To do this, combine several cups of your fav veg (zucchini, carrots, greens etc) in a pot with some onion, garlic, herbs/seasonings of your choice and just enough bone broth to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer gently until veggies are tender. Puree to be as smooth as you like- I like it really smooth but some prefer chunky. Super easy, and depending on the veg can be made in 10 minutes.
Sometimes it’s helpful to buy pre-made foods when we’re busy. If you think I cook 100% of my meals, you’re sadly mistaken. Purchasing store-bought soups (preferably not canned but rather from the refrigerated section) can be a great way to sneak in extra veggies. Purchase the soup of your choice, and then go home and add about 1/2 – 1 cup extra chopped/pureed veggies per serving. Dump the pre-made soup and veggies in a pot and simply cook a few minutes until the fresh veg are tender.
The ultimate veggie-hider! Put anything you want in a smoothie- leafy greens like kale or spinach, harder veg like carrots and beets, or anything at all you want! If you add a touch of fruit, some flavorings like vanilla, cacao and/or cinnamon you’ll not even notice the veggies in your drink. As you get more adventurous, you can make your smoothies 100% vegetables.
#7: Roasted Veg
An easy way to make sure you have veggies prepared all week, roasting up a big pan of mixed veggies can be kept in the fridge and re-heated at lunch or dinner time. Combine any veggies you like, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs/seasonings of choice. Pop in the oven at about 350-375 degrees until tender. Note that some veggies like broccoli might be quicker that harder root veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips.
Anything is better with bacon. Bacon is how I’ve convinced my family that brussels sprouts are a delicious food. Chop up a fav veggie, saute it in a pan with nitrate-free bacon, some chopped onions and garlic and you’re good to go! I like to shred brussel sprouts, use organic corn, broccoli or any other veg.
#9: Greens Powder
This one is at the bottom of the list for a reason. While there are some really really good greens powders out there, they do not replace having fresh, whole vegetables. But, while you’re slowly building yourself up to have several servings of veggies in a day, greens powders can be good in a pinch to help with your nutrient status.