Most of us could use more vegetables in our diets. One of the ways to get more is to put them at the center of the plate. That’s right. A vegetable-centric dinner is one that forgoes a big serving of traditional protein, like beef or chicken, to make room for plant-based proteins and all of their colorful and fiber-filled companions. Here are a few reasons I recommend trying to make vegetables the stars of our dinner plates.
New recipes. In our day-to-day lives, it is easy to get stuck in a rut of meat-and-potatoes style dinners. By searching out vegetable-based dinners once or twice a week, you open yourself to a whole new world of options. Ratatouille. Frittata. Bean burritos. Portobello burgers. There is no end to the variety you can discover during a little bit of exploration.
Color and flavor. Vegetables are packed with really appetizing qualities. Their bright colors and varied textures make an ordinary weeknight dinner feel like a special occasion. With the right spices and combinations, you will create flavors worth swooning for.
Improving health and nutrition. As a registered dietitian, this one is the most important to me. Vegetables are packed with nutrients. The vegetable world is filled with good sources of protein and fiber, both of which help us feel full and satisfied with our meal. Getting important vitamins, like calcium and iron, is effortless when you eat generous helpings of vegetables.
Pennywise. Generally speaking, vegetables are cheaper than meat. Shop seasonally or in the freezer section for vegetables at the best price. Serving for serving, you will be saving money while improving your health.
Better for the planet. Vegetables take a lot less fuel and water to grow than meat does. Over time, eating more vegetables can make a significant positive impact on the health of the earth.
Local connection. For extra credit, swing by your local farmers market. Your farmer neighbors are growing a fantastic array of vegetables right here. Most are picked within 24 hours of delivery to the market. You can’t get any fresher than that! Use the state-specific links below to check for discounts that make local produce more affordable for those who receive SNAP benefits. Best of all, the produce is often grown by the person who sells it to you, which connects you to your community and makes every bite even more satisfying.
A vegetable-centric meal is certain to leave you feeling nourished in every sense. You will be creatively inspired, fueled with good nutrition, proud of your fiscally and environmentally sound choice, and more connected to your community. That’s one powerful meal.
Kristin Irace, RD, is a registered dietitian at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington, VT.