Easy Ways to Eat More Non-Starchy Veggies (and Add PersonalPoints!)
The math is simple: Eat one cup of non-starchy vegetables and you’ll add a Point to your daily PersonalPoints™ Budget. But if you’re not a “vegetables person” you might think that adds up to side salads or sad bags of baby carrots rattling around the bottom of your purse.
No and no.
To cultivate this habit, simply incorporate more non-starchy veggies into dishes you’re already eating or already love. This could mean adding them where there previously weren’t any or replacing some ingredients with non-starchy veggies. Try one or all of these ideas:
1. Load up your tacos, tostadas, and/or burritos with extra shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, diced bell peppers, radishes, and/or pico de gallo. Not only do they add fresh Tex-Mex-appropriate flavor but they’re all ZeroPoint™ non-starchy vegetables. For even more flavor (without adding Points), top with extra fat-free salsa or hot sauce (or both!).
2. Top your pizza slices with a big fistful of fresh arugula. You’d be amazed at how much extra greenery you can pack in this way and how delicious the fresh peppery lettuce is when contrasted with gooey cheese and tangy tomato sauce.
3. Stack your wrap or sandwich with extra veggies like unsweetened pickle slices, tomato slices, coleslaw mix, cucumber slices, shredded lettuce, baby spinach, and/or thinly sliced red onion. Test kitchen tip: Season these veggies (except for the pickles) with a pinch of salt and black pepper to amp up their flavor.
4. Or, for a tidier sandwich that won’t topple over (or that you can actually get your mouth around), turn it into an open-faced sandwich (call it a tartine if you’re feeling fancy or a smørrebrød if you’re feeling Scandi). Then go wild piling it high with veggies.
5. For your pasta dishes, combine grain- or legume-based spaghetti or linguine with vegetable noodles like spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini or butternut squash. You'll still have the satisfying pasta experience (and texture) but with added veg.
6. Make a plate of nachos as a snack (or meal, we won’t judge) and use a combo of tortilla chips and scoop-shaped slices of mini bell or sweet peppers as the base. Or really go for it and use only peppers for the base.
7. Combine grains like rice, quinoa, or couscous with riced broccoli or cauliflower. Keep increasing the ratio of riced veg to grain over time to up the veg factor.
8. Throw handfuls of non-starchy vegetables into your egg scramble or omelet. Cook them in the skillet first (or steam them in the microwave) until they’re tender before removing them and then stirring them into the eggs. Try diced bell peppers, diced tomatoes, chopped asparagus, baby spinach, baby kale, mushrooms, or zucchini.
9. Same goes for soups, stir fries, and fried rice dishes. These are great vehicles for packing in more non-starchy vegetables. A quarter cup here and there can really add up.
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Sherry Rujikarn is the food director at WW, where she oversees cookbooks and recipe content. She has spent her career developing and testing recipes, identifying and exploring food trends, and teaching home cooks about all things food-related.