Tips from Laura N. aka Veggie Queen

PSF Instructor Laura N. is the “Veggie Queen”…seriously, you should see her at a salad buffet…veggies for days! Since some of us aren’t as keen-to-the-green, we wanted to know more about her veg-obsession…

I heard you eat a lot of veggies 🙂 why is this such a huge part of your diet?

First, I actually really love veggies! I know it’s so nerdy, but I do. I’m lucky because I grew up eating a lot of healthy stuff, so I never had to “reset” my taste buds as an adult. (Thanks Mom!) Also, I like to eat big portions, so veggies are a great way to fill up a plate and the belly without too many calories Finally, I know that they are so good for me, so I try to incorporate as many, both in terms of quantity and variety (eat the rainbow) as possible each day. 
What’s a QUICK and EASY way to incorporate more veggies into my diet?
I try to have AT LEAST one serving of veggies in every meal and snack, including breakfast.
I always put a couple of big handfuls of baby spinach into my smoothie in the morning.
Spinach is perfect for this because the flavor is so mild, you can’t even taste it. And the baby variety doesn’t impact the texture of the smoothie. If you like salads or omelettes or soups for lunch (like I do), add some extra, unexpected and under-utilized veggies to jazz things up, and if it’s a familiar dish with lots of flavors, you may not even notice the addition of a non-favorite veg. That said, more of any veggie is better than not, so if you really like broccoli, but hate kale, eat more broccoli and skip the kale!
My snacks almost always incorporate a veggie as well. Two favorites…Almond butter on celery sticks and cucumbers with hummus.
For dinner, I almost always replace the expected “carb” on my plate with an extra veggie (cauliflower rice, roasted cauliflower and butternut squash noodles are faves). Plus of course, be sure there’s also a green salad or green veggie on the side 🙂
Finally, if you are craving chips and dips (guac anyone??), veggies make really great dippers. Really you’re craving the dip, not the chip, so slice some raw veggies (cucumbers, carrots, red peppers and jicama are my fave dippers) and add a dash of salt if you need and dip away guilt free!
Do you have a favorite veggie-packed recipe? Please share!
My family is big into taco night, so I love to put my taco meat of choice over cauliflower rice and pile on a bunch of toppings (salsa, avocado, kimchi, pickled onions, roasted peppers, sliced radishes, etc.)
Otherwise, I typically keep things pretty simple with lean protein and sides of roasted veggies with olive oil, garlic and dried herbs, then hit it with fresh lemon and fresh parsley at the end. Never underestimate the power of a little acid (vinegar or citrus) and herbs to take any dish to the next level and make healthy eating fun!
But sometimes I get on a kick of wanting to spice things up a bit (usually literally, as I do have a spice obsession). Right now it’s Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts. And the recipe can be adapted to any other veggie as well. Yum!!
What other foods/food groups are staples in your diet?
Protein, protein, and more protein. Berries (that’s a food group, right?) And good, healthy fats. Never met an avocado, nut or olive oil I didn’t like 🙂 I don’t eat a lot of dairy, but I do love plain, full-fat Greek yogurt and a little bit of cheese. And wine (again, that’s a food group, right?!)
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How do you stay motivated to eat healthy? Any tips?
I honestly just think it’s habit. Like I said, I’m lucky to have been raised eating whole, healthy foods most of the time (though my mom baked a mean batch of brownies or cookies every Sunday 🙂 , and I’ve carried it through to adulthood. I find that the older I get, the less often I veer off the path of clean eating because I realize how awful it makes me feel. Sluggish, bloated, yuck. Though I definitely do “cheat” on my healthy ways some times. Last Sunday, at a Super Bowl party, I had way too much food, and then the most delicious slice of homemade chocolate cake. It was amazing! I really should get the recipe, but I hate to bake 😦
Anything else we should know about how cool you are? 🙂
After veggies, my healthy obsession is tea. I drink it, cook with it, add it to smoothies, bathe in it. Just kidding. Maybe ….
P.S. Even kids can get in on the veggie fun!

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