Mark Bittman’s 5 Strategies for Eating More Plant Foods

Mark Bittman
Eating more plants is one of the best things you can do for your own health and the health of the planet. Think of our hunter-gatherer forbearers. Plants are meant to be the base of our diet—they’re fibrous, full of protein and other nutrients. So have some fun. Experiment with cooking techniques and flavors. Those plants might just surprise you with how vibrant and delicious they can be.

5 Experiment With Ways to Make Vegetables Exciting

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Be sure to try other techniques like roasting, grilling, broiling, sautéing, or braising. And don’t be afraid of adding some fat (especially olive oil), spices, and/or herbs. Finally, don’t forget: An ounce of bacon or Parmesan goes a long way (after 6!).

4 Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

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There’s a wide world of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and nuts out there; explore it. To avoid getting stuck in a rut, resolve to try at least one new plant every month—you’re bound to like and even love some of them. And you’ll virtually never run out of options.

3 Make Big Batches of Grains and Beans Every Week

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Cooking beans and grains requires virtually no effort, and they keep in the fridge for days or in the freezer indefinitely. If you freeze them in 1-cup portions, they’ll hold up well and defrost quickly. (If they don’t last all week, good work! Make some more.) Or you can sock away a few different kinds for variety. Once you have them ready to go, salads, soups, and stir-fries come together in an instant.

2 Prep Vegetables So They’re Always Ready to Eat

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When you get home from the store—or whenever you’re on the phone, watching TV, or have a few minutes—trim carrots and celery, cut them into sticks, and store them in water in the fridge. Rinse lettuce, tear into pieces, and stash in towels in plastic bags or a salad spinner; that way you can make a salad in three minutes. Pre-cook broccoli, cauliflower, or string beans—in boiling water or in the microwave—so they’re ready to add to recipes or snack on when you want them. Wash a bunch of fruit and put it in a bowl.

1 Buy Them

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It may sound silly, but the first step is to actually shop. If you’ve got your supplies lined up, you’ll turn to them instead of junk food when you get hungry. And if you load up the fridge with fruits and vegetables—whatever they are—you’ll be far more likely to eat them. If you create a detailed eating plan for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner, you can make sure you have all the necessary ingredients.

Mark Bittman currently writes for the New York Times Opinion section and is the author of Vegan Before 6 (VB6). 

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