Studies show eating vegetables can reduce risk of early death, especially related to heart problems. Yet only 13% of Americans meet the recommended intake of at least 2 to 3 cups per day. Leafy greens are particularly protective against a host of chronic diseases, but increasing one’s intake of any type of vegetable is beneficial.

5 Ways to Add More Vegetables to Foods You Love

  • Add two grated carrots to tuna salad—this provides over a cup of vegetables
  • Roast a batch to add to sandwiches and omelettes 
  • Cook a smaller portion of rice and add in peas— ½ cup of the starchy vegetable has half as many calories and four times as much fiber
  • Add frozen broccoli to mac and cheese
  • Make pesto with kale—try the recipe below

Kale Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces (¾ pound) fresh kale (1 to 2 bunches, depending on the size)
  • ½ pound dry (uncooked) pasta
  • Pinch chili flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste, as needed)
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • ¾ cup grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.
  • In a small skillet over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and garlic. Cook until the garlic turns light golden brown and fragrant (3 to 4 minutes), taking care not to burn it. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Wash the kale leaves and run a knife down both sides of the thick stem on each leaf to remove the rib; discard ribs.
  • When the water boils, add the kale and cook until dark green and tender (4 to 5 minutes). Using tongs, pull the kale leaves out of the pot and place directly into a blender. Add the pasta to the still boiling water.
  • Add garlic and oil in the blender, along with the chili flakes, black pepper and salt. Blend until thick and fully pureed. Taste and add more salt or pepper, as needed.
  • When the pasta is fully cooked, scoop it out using a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl. Add the chickpeas and toss with the kale sauce and cheese.

Already include a vegetable with dinner? Serve more than one. Research shows when multiple vegetables are offered, a larger quantity is eaten overall.