MuuvWell Blog

Better Balance, Meal by Meal

January 29, 2024

Better Balance, Meal by Meal: Non-Starchy Veggies

Non-starchy veggies are high in fiber and nutrients, yet low in calories. We can add a lot of them to our meals and snacks, fill up and feel more satisfied after we eat, and yet support a variety of different health goals. This is a food group where most of us are simply not eating enough. So, if you have a goal around eating healthier, supporting weight loss, improving heart health (like lower blood pressure or cholesterol), balancing blood sugar, aid in regularity/digestion – then it’s time to check in on your non-starchy veggie intake. 

 

Why Non-starchy veggies? 

  • Add volume to a meal without adding many calories 
    • Helps you feel more full and satisfied
    • Naturally supports portion control of higher calorie items 
  • Increase fiber
    • Lowers cholesterol
    • Supports “regularity” in your digestion
    • Helps you feel fuller, longer 
  • More vitamins and minerals
    • Improved immune system
    • More potassium to lower blood pressure
    • Better electrolyte balance

 

Common non-starchy vegetables:

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jicama
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts

 

How do I add more non-starchy veggies? 

A great goal for most people is to aim for half of their plate, or half of their meal, to be made up of non-starchy veggies. Think about your routine, and a meal where you can bump up the veggie volume. Can you add tomato slices to your breakfast? Make half your plate a salad or frozen, steamed broccoli on pizza night? Is there an option to add peppers, onions, lettuce, salsa, or cilantro to your burrito bowl when out for lunch? What about making a weekly stir fry night (add cabbage, bok choy, peppers, water chestnuts, pea pods, carrots, etc.) instead of grabbing take out? Fresh, frozen, and even canned* veggies all work! Focus on veggies that you enjoy. 

 

Is there an opportunity to add more veggies to your snack routine? Baby carrots, mini cucumbers, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes are easy veggies that require no prep work, and are easy to grab for snacks! Pair them with your favorite source of protein or a dip to make them into a satisfying and balanced snack: 

  • Carrots and hummus
  • Cherry tomatoes and cheese
  • Cucumber slices topped with tuna 
  • Celery and peanut butter
  • Sugar snap peas and a hard boiled egg

 

*For lower sodium or salt, rinsing and draining canned vegetables can help to reduce sodium content by up to 40%. Look for low sodium or no salt added vegetables when possible.



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