Preparing your body for pregnancy requires a diligent effort to get yourself to your healthiest state. This means eating right and drinking plenty of water. But let’s face it: In today’s fast-paced world it’s difficult to get all your veggies in daily. Aside from salads, what can you do to increase your everyday veggie intake? Here are some great vegetable-rich meals that taste great and can be frozen in serving sized portions to take on the go:
- Ratatouille: This meal is about as veggie forward as you can get. Ratatouille is essentially a veggie stew; it’s rich, hearty, and freezes well for later use. There are many ways to make this meal, and none of them wrong. Some like to slice the veggies in a mandolin and stack them like scalloped potatoes, others like to cut them into fine chunks and stir them up in a casserole. Whichever way you choose to make yours, here are the basic ingredients you will need.
Onion, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, olive oil, oregano, thyme, coriander, salt, pepper, basil, fennel, and sweet potato. You can add any other veggies you love and mix things up to make it your own. Traditional French ratatouille takes about an hour and a half to make and is stewed slowly in a pot. It can be made early and reheated the next day with no loss to flavor or texture.
- Fresh Pita Pizza: Want to enjoy a classic with a healthy twist? Try homemade pita pizza made on whole wheat pita bread. To create this crowd pleaser, place a round whole wheat pita on a cookie sheet and spread with your favorite tomato sauce, or drizzle with olive oil and minced garlic. Top with peppers, olives, onions, asparagus, and a sprinkle of basil. Add a few chunks of mozzarella and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is gooey and veggies begin to soften.
You can make pita pizza with any toppings you want, which makes it a great fit for picky eaters. Add healthy meats like turkey breast or lean sliced beef if you want to put a carnivorous twist on yours.
- Veggie Chili: Love chili but want to improve your veggie eating and reduce your fat intake? Lose the ground beef and switch to a ground turkey or drop the meat altogether. In olive oil, simmer onions, minced garlic, diced green and red peppers, chopped celery, salt, pepper, chili powder, and a dash of cayenne, now add soaked rinsed beans or lentils, and plenty of diced tomato. Simmer and stew until all the veggies are soft and the broth begins to thicken. Add a touch more chili, and spice to your taste.
Serve this with a side of whole wheat tortilla chips for a hit at any social gathering or to make your Friday night fiesta more fun.
- Slow Cooker Veggie Soup: No time to stand over the hot stove but you want a rich hearty meal? Slow cooker veggie soup is a lifesaver and freezes well for work lunches. In your slow cooker add veggie broth, salt and pepper to taste, 4 diced hot house tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes, an onion, 1 cup of corn, 2 cups of fresh diced green beans, 1 cup of shelled fresh peas, 3 medium diced carrots, parsley, basil, 1 bay leaf, and half a cup of barley. Cook this mixture on low for 5-6 hours and come home to steaming pot of delicious homemade soup.
You can add lean meats to any of the above meals or create your own veggie-rich options by simply getting creative with family favorites. You can still have your lasagna but try adding peppers and fresh tomato between each layer. Love shepherd’s pie? Instead of simply adding corn as a layer, create a layer of grilled asparagus, garlic, and shallots. The possibilities are endless and your body will thank you for the added energy and nutrients.