My Broccoli Diet is keeping me young and fit!
The many benefits of broccoli and other vegetables include vitamins, nutrients, low fat, fiber content, anti-inflammatory effects and improved digestive tract health. Some cruciferous vegetables including broccoli are even linked to lowering the risk for certain cancers.
Here is why you should add more broccoli and other vegetables to your daily meals.
When I was busy in Mommy-Mode raising four children, I was not eating as sensibly as I could, for many years. Having four children in four years (two boys, then twins) took quite a toll on my figure. Now my kids are all teens and I am able to focus more on myself and my own needs. By eating broccoli and other vegetables daily, I have lost weight, I have more energy and I feel younger than I did twelve years ago.
Broccoli and Vegetables for a Healthier Lifestyle
Years ago, I started adding more vegetables to my diet. I lost more than 15 pounds, felt younger and had increased energy. I also noticed that I didn’t have as many cravings for junk food and chocolate. Eating more veggies seemed to be good for my stomach and digestive tract as well. For more specifics about how I lost the weight, Read This Post.
Over time, I fell out of some of my good eating habits and slowly gained back several of the pounds I had lost. I got back on track once again with walking more and eating veggies and lost the weight a second time. Sticking with the veggies was looking like a good habit to keep. It is now a permanent habit, not simply a phase in my life. For a Five Step Weight Loss Plan, read this post.
How to Easily Add More Veggies
I love a great salad but I don’t always have time to make one for dinner. While a delicious salad is a great meal for me, it won’t satisfy my teenage boys at all. Salad and lettuce leaves also don’t deliver as many vitamins and nutrients as broccoli and other vegetables. For this reason, I try to add whole vegetables to my dinners, broccoli being my all time favorite. For two of my favorite salads, see these recipes: Spinach & Strawberry Salad and Cucumber and Tomato Salad.
I needed to re-think my dinner and meal planning to include more vegetables. They needed to be easy to cook and I wanted to have leftovers. This way I only had to cook veggies every other night. Broccoli or another veggie is now my base for most of my meals. Rather than a bed of pasta or mound of rice as the main feature of my plate, I use broccoli. I began redesigning my own dinner plate and my family could still eat the way they wanted.
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Making Food Replacements
When I make meat sauce, my kids have it with pasta and garlic bread. I enjoy my meat sauce on top of a huge bowl of broccoli instead. This may sound odd but in fact, it is a delicious and healthy alternative to loading up with carbohydrates. With my Broccoli Diet, I eat less carbs, and get more vitamins; I consume less calories and get more nutrients.
Another favorite dinner in my house was always fettuccine Alfredo or white sauce as we call it. This is one of the meals that all six people in my house will eat. The trouble was the amount of calories and carbs in the 2-3 bowls of pasta I was enjoying for dinner. I am content with a mound of fresh steamed broccoli and a dollop of pasta with Alfredo sauce on the side.
Take a look at the calorie count difference: The fettuccine Alfredo is approximately 450 calories per cup and I usually ate 2-3 cups for 1350 calories. My new improved dinner is 2 cups of steamed broccoli (62 calories) and ½ cup of pasta Alfredo (225 calories) for a total of 287 calories.
Try these free calorie tracking worksheets to help you take a better look at how many calories you are eating each day.
Easy Dinner Make-Over Ideas
Old dinner: chicken parmigiana & pasta with garlic bread with little or no vegetable.
My New dinner: a bed of broccoli with some chicken parmigiana, sauce and a little pasta mixed in. This is just as delicious but healthier!
Old dinner: Beef and Vegetable Stew with crusty bread
My New dinner: Large bowl of broccoli with beef stew on top. It is very filling so no bread is needed. For my Beef Stew recipe, Click Here.
Old dinner: Chicken Francese over a bed of pasta or rice
My New dinner: Huge amounts of broccoli or another veggie with delicious Francese sauce and some chicken. This is more than satisfying, no pasta or rice needed.
Old dinner: Steak, potatoes and vegetables on the side.
My New dinner: Broccoli as the main feature with half a steak and a little potato on the side. This is the exact same meal with different portion sizes. The vegetable is now the main item rather than a side item.
Old dinner: Homemade Chicken soup with pasta or rice
My New dinner: Chicken soup with lots of veggies including carrots, celery and more broccoli
This list goes on and on, you get the idea! I still need to cook for four growing teenagers so we have lots of food. I plan carefully so that they have what they like and I get my vegetables. As an extra benefit, my husband is eating more vegetables and is on a healthy eating kick as well.
Re-thinking your Lunch Too
After making healthy changes at dinner, I realized I needed to look more closely at my lunch as well. Most of the time I add baby spinach leaves to my sandwich for a quick fix. I find the spinach leaves most convenient to add to a sandwich. There is no chopping involved so it is simple to add a handful. I now make half of my sandwich spinach rather than just a few leaves on top. This means I am adding vegetables in to a meal where I wasn’t having them before.
I have even added broccoli to a sandwich! When I was out of spinach one day, I tried adding several small broccoli florets to my tuna. It made a perfectly delicious crunchy green addition. This is now a regular lunch choice for me.
How Best to Cook your Broccoli
Steaming Broccoli is the healthiest cooking method, leaving the most nutrients intact. For me, it is the easiest to use my microwave steamer. I quick steam several bunches of broccoli, and do not season it at all. I keep the steamed broccoli in my fridge to add to any meal I am having. A container of quick steamed broccoli will keep fresh for a few days. This makes is easily available to add into whatever I am cooking.
If I have to chop and cook a vegetable for every meal, I am less likely to bother doing it. When I keep some steamed broccoli ready for use, I can easily add it to every meal. I usually steam my broccoli for 4-5 minutes to keep it crunchy and bright green.
The deeper green the color of the broccoli, the more carotenoids it contains. Carotenoids act as antioxidants in the body and help reduce the effects of aging- yet another benefit. Over-cooked broccoli becomes mushy, loses color, flavor, nutrients and appeal! Steam your veggies, keep the nutrients and get more vitamins.
GO AHEAD, get started, take the Broccoli Diet Challenge! Start adding more vegetables to your meals today. I would love to hear your ideas for adding more vegetables, please leave them in the comments!