Halloween is upon us, and whether you’ve got a few trick-or-treaters of your own to take out tonight, or you’re just preparing for the little witches and zombies to arrive, chances are, your house is stocked with candy, pumpkins, and Halloween decorations galore. But with all the excitement of Halloween, we’ve forgotten what else October is all about: Vegetarian Awareness Month!
Okay, maybe no one ever refers to October as ‘Vegetarian Month’, but if you think about it, it is a good time to make sure you’re not neglecting your vegetables. Think about all the candy children will be bringing back home tonight, not to mention all the leftover candy for the trick-or-treaters! Unless you purchase just enough candy so there aren’t leftovers or make the kids give away their treats after a day or two, your house will be an all-you-can-eat candy buffet for weeks to come!
So what better time than now to focus on healthy eating and making sure your family is getting all the fruits and vegetables they need? In honor of Vegetarian Awareness Month and Halloween, here are a few tricks to sneak in a few extra servings of vegetables!
– Believe it or not, simply washing and preparing produce as soon as you get it home increases your chance of actually eating it! If it’s in plain site and ready to eat, you’re more likely to grab it for a quick snack than if it’s tucked away in a drawer.
– Serve cut up vegetables with low fat dips like hummus or bean dip. It’s a delicious way to get kids and adults to get more veggies in. Keep the veggies out on the table during every meal for snacking on, instead of going for seconds of the main meal.
– Start each dinner with a salad. You’ll get an extra serving or two of vegetables, and the fiber will help fill you up so you don’t overeat the heavier meal. Switch it up to keep it interesting – try different salad dressings, or mix it up by having a spinach salad one day, and romaine the next! Throw everyone’s favorite vegetables in it, like carrots, broccoli, or even slices of fruit!
– Try a green smoothie. Throw a few handfuls of vegetables in the blender with fruit and some water and/or a little juice. If that’s a little too “green” for you, try adding a handful of spinach to protein shakes and smoothies – you won’t even taste it!
– Instead of serving buffalo wings or other bite size snacks for after school snacks and get-togethers, try serving meatless options that taste just as good, like Veggie Patch Broccoli or Spinach Nuggets! Vegetarians and meat eaters alike love these cheesy snacks. They are a great way to cut back on the meat, get an extra serving of vegetables, and still enjoy cheesy, finger foods.
– Use spaghetti squash in place of pasta, or sliced eggplant in place of lasagna noodles.
– Bake kale chips in the oven instead of snacking on fried, processed potato chips
– Puree vegetables and add them to all kinds of recipes, from brownies to pancakes! Check out thesneakychef.com for free recipes like pancakes with wheat germ, sweet potatoes and carrots, or brownies with wheat germ, blueberries, spinach and oat bran! No one will ever know your healthy secret!
– Use veggie burgers in place of regular beef patties, or any recipe that calls for red meat. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference if it’s chopped up in a dish, and if they do, it won’t be a bad thing! Veggie burgers are a good substitute for red meat, which is high in fat.
– Not getting enough fiber in your diet from fruits and vegetables alone? Try mixing high-fiber cereal into your regular bowl of cereal in the morning. That extra bit of fiber will keep you full longer and help balance blood sugar levels throughout the day.
– Devote one a week to going “meatless.” It doesn’t mean you’re stuck eating vegetables and beans all day. There are so many vegetarian lines to choose from these days, from Morningstar to Boca, but our new favorite veggie product is Veggie Patch – and we’re not just talking veggie burgers, here. They have such a variety of products to choose from, from meatless hotdogs to broccoli cheese bites! Our absolute favorites are falafel and meatless meatballs! SO GOOD! You can’t find falafel with Veggie Patch’s nutritional stats anywhere else, unless you made them at home – but who has time for that!? They even have mini corn dogs! If you ask me, these products are just as good as the real deal, and so much healthier.
Remember, it IS Halloween, so don’t get all caught up in Vegetarian Awareness and hand out carrot sticks to the trick-or-treaters! All things in moderation!
Happy Halloween and Happy Vegetarian Awareness Month!!