Why? Eat And Enjoy Raw Veggies, 20 Ways Too
Chef K.T. Murphy
For some, the thought of eating vegetables is almost too much to bear, and while eating raw vegetables might not sound that appealing, there are numerous health benefits to doing so:
- Very low in calories
- No fat in the vegetables themselves and fat saved from eliminating the cooking process
- No cholesterol
- Rich in essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants
- Certain vegetables, like those of the cruciferous family, including, greens and broccoli are strongly believed by scientists to have real anti-cancer properties
- The nutrients in vegetables play a key role in maintaining good health, including lowering risks for heart disease, and boosting immunity
- Rich in fiber that is filling so you eat less for healthy weight management
Raw vegetables can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways that are not the boring, traditional variety that actually makes them interesting to eat, follow these tips to improve your intake of these very nutritious gems of nature.
Salad does not need to be the stereotypical salad of dry, slightly brown lettuce leaves with a bit of tomato and cucumber. There are never-ending possibilities when it comes to salads, only limited by your taste buds and imagination. Salads don’t have to be boring. You can throw in a little cheese or grilled chicken breast. Add a wide assortment of raw vegetables.
To make salads more interesting, combine different color leaves, grate or finely chop some carrots, celery, red onion, cabbage, and broccoli and combine.Peppers, lettuce, and carrots are great choices and you can add various herbs, like cilantro, parsley, and basil for a little extra flavor. For variety, add in unique flavors of herbs or spices such as mint or dill. You could even add some lemon, grapefruit, or lime juice for a tangy citrus flavor.
Grilled vegetables can be combined with raw salad fixings to make a wonderfully tasty blend. Grill some purple onions, red, green, and yellow peppers and add to a hearty lettuce like Romaine, along with cherry tomatoes, carrot slivers and raw mushroom slices, delicious! Depending on your dietary preferences, you may wish to add beans, pulses, or lentils to the salad to make a hearty meal. If you love the sweet/savory combination of flavors, add sweet berries to your savory salads.
The phytochemicals and vitamin C in onions boost immunity. They also contain chromium that helps to regulate blood sugar along with properties that help reduce inflammation and heal infections. A Cornell University study found that raw onions contain sulphur compounds, and cancer-fighting antioxidants that are only present in their juice. These nutrients help protect against lung and prostate cancer.
Raw onions go great with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and dill drizzled with oil and white vinegar, a salad traditionally enjoyed in Russian cooking. Finely chopped raw sweet onion also tastes great in any type of salad as it adds a tangy sweetness and a very unique flavor that marinades well with other vegetables and various dressings. Raw onion can also be enjoyed over any type of grilled meat, fish, or chicken.
As juicers are so popular and affordable, it’s a great idea to invest in one. You can quickly and easily juice raw produce and greatly increase your nutritional profile with an influx off fresh vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants that are easily absorbed by the body in juice forms. If you really need to get those veggies into your body, but hate eating them, juicing is a great option.
With a food processor making a dip becomes exceptionally easy – simply throw in all the ingredients, including raw vegetables, whizz it and you’re done. There are numerous options that you could make out of raw vegetables such as creamy cucumber or creamy dill. For nonfat or low fat options, swap the sour cream or mayonnaise used in dip recipes with nonfat or low-fat Greek yogurt.
You could also use carrot or celery sticks instead of breadsticks and dip them in your favorite dip.
Salsa goes with everything, including eggs, omelets, in salads, as a dip for fresh veggies and even fruit and as a condiment in sandwiches and wraps. Fresh salsa even tastes good by itself.
You don’t have to limit yourself to just tomatoes, onion, and hot peppers found in the typical salsa recipe. You can add finely chopped raw carrot, bell peppers, celery and even chucks of raw mushrooms.
Smoothies are great for people on the go or who have limited time, yet still want to eat healthily. All you need is some vegetables and a blender. Throw in your favorite vegetables, with some added greens for the health benefits, such as kale or spinach, and you’re done. You could add an avocado if you want a boost of healthy fat and to thicken the mixture.
Yogurt is also great in making smoothies with both raw vegetables and fruits.
Raw vegetables, when combined with ingredients such as lemon juice and salt, make excellent dressings. These could be used on salads, meat, fish, in wraps or over grilled chicken.
Combine vegetables such as onion and garlic with apple cider vinegar or olive oil to make an excellent addition to any salad.
Raw vegetables make excellent choices for eating on the go. It’s incredibly easy to chop some cucumber, tomatoes, carrot, or peppers and pop them into a container. Within minutes, you have a healthy snack that you can eat anywhere. Combine with a dip for added flavor.
Most people have a sweet tooth of some sort, and some people crave sugar much more than others. There is a way to get your sugar fix and still eat raw vegetables; some vegetables are naturally sweeter than others are so these can satisfy that craving for sugar. Choose vegetables such as squash, cherry and grape tomatoes, and carrots for healthier sweet tooth satisfaction.
Traditional slaw often contains a large dose of mayonnaise, which is not the healthiest option. However, you can make homemade slaw taste just as good and much healthier.
Combine raw vegetables such as carrot and cabbage, and either add a small amount of low-fat or olive oil mayonnaise, or consider adding a different dressing for a more unique flavor, including Asian ginger dressings, a Greek yogurt dressing or a simple olive oil and vinegar blend.
Certain vegetable such as zucchini and carrots make excellent noodles if you have a spiralizer. If not, most peelers will give you a similar sort of effect. Once you have a handful of vegetable noodles, you can do so many things with them. You could add them to salads for extra taste and effect, or combine them with a marinara or meat sauce to make a more hearty meal.
Certain foods such as breadsticks, rice, and bread can all be replaced with raw vegetables. Lettuce or kale leaves make excellent alternatives to bread, and can be used to make a wrap or sandwich.
Cauliflower, when broken down into tiny pieces, makes an excellent alternative to rice. This can give you texture and taste in a salad or as a side dish.
Finally, vegetables such as carrots and peppers can be just as good with dips as bread.
12. Spice Things Up
If you find vegetables to be bland and tasteless, then you’re not alone. Many people are not satisfied with a little salt and pepper so if you want to make things more interesting, just add a little spice. You can experiment with flavors, such as cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic, and even cloves.
13. Side Dishes
Raw vegetables make excellent side dishes at dinner. Whether it is a small salad, dips or noodle salad, all are healthy alternatives to many other traditional side dishes, especially potatoes. This is particularly the case when combined with ingredients such as cheese or fish – the possibilities are endless.
Who doesn’t love fondue? Raw vegetables are great when dipped into a gooey, cheesy flavorful fondue and when you swap the usual bread, and meats that are dipped in fondue with raw carrots, celery, mushrooms, grape tomatoes, zucchini and even bell peppers you save a ton of calories too!
If you fill your fridge with junk food, then you’re going to eat junk food. If you have your fresh vegetables hidden away in a vegetable drawer, you’ll never see them and consequently won’t eat them. Preparer your veggies by washing and drying them and keeping them in clear containers at eye level in your fridge. That way, when you go to get a snack, you’ll see prepared vegetables sitting in front of you.
16. Keep It Simple
You don’t have to make a gourmet meal every time you eat. If you’re spending the whole time focusing on preparation and making something that looks like a work of art, you’ll see healthy food as a chore. You should try to choose recipes that are quick and simple that you can make as quickly as you could grab a snack; this is very motivating and will make it easier for you to get your fill of healthy foods.
When you go shopping for food, you may find that your family’s eating habits can cause you to stray from your healthy eating plan. If you want to eat more raw vegetables, you could turn the food shopping into a competition to see which family member can make the healthiest choices. This is an especially useful way to get kids involved in healthy eating and learning to make healthy choices.
If you try to eat vegetables that you really don’t like just because they’re healthy, you’re not going to be able to stick to your diet for long. There is no point in punishing yourself just to be healthy. If there are certain vegetables that you just can’t stomach, leave them out. Just choose the vegetables you do like and enjoy and you’ll find it much easier to eat veggies more often.
If you’re not used to eating raw vegetables, it’s probably not a good idea to replace all your usual food with raw vegetables all at once. Instead, give your taste buds and your body time to adjust to the new lifestyle by adding raw vegetables gradually to your diet. Start small and build on it.
If you join a health club, and make friends with health-minded people, you’ll find that it’s much easier to stick to your new routine. Eating healthy raw vegetables with other people will encourage you to make healthier choices and you won’t feel like you’re missing out as you might watching friends eat junk food.
The rest is up to you. All the best