UNITED STATES—I’ve made it my mission to interject as many vegetables in 2015. I’ve always been a fan of veggies, but it’s difficult to consume them without something else in my opinion. Why is it that we shy so far away from vegetables to begin with? It’s TASTE! We know the importance of veggies on our bodies and our mental state, yet we still lack adequate amounts on a daily basis.

Of course, plenty of us indulge in a salad every so often with the perception that its ‘healthy.’ That’s the problem, while a salad is healthy, we tend to overindulge in other things, the cheeses, the dried fruits, the croutons, the dressing; before you know it, you’ve added another 200-300 calories to a meal that should have remained on a low calorie scale. So what can we do to ensure we get the full health benefits of our green little friends? Plan ahead. When it comes to vegetables a variety of the rainbow is best. I love carrots; I mean I can literally eat them non-stop. While eating carrots are good, that orange treat will only provide so many benefits to my body. I mean they don’t contain all the same nutrients and health benefits as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fennel, beets, etc.

Do you see my point? The more you indulge in new vegetables, the more acclimated you become in making it apart of your daily diet. Some veggies you just have to implement into dishes, you don’t have to go totally vegan, but sometimes a vegan dish tastes a lot better than you may have suspected.

It’s all about the flavors you use, which means, seasoning and herbs are key. Venture out; when you try new spices you learn new things. In addition, it gives you a culinary knowledge of what proteins work well with certain spices and which veggies will enhance those spices and proteins. Most of the time, we tend to stay far away from things that we have no experience with.  I’ve been vastly terrified of eggplant because I’ve been warned of its bland taste.

I’ve heard all about eggplant parmesan, but I don’t simply want to recreate a dish that everyone else has done, I want to utilize eggplant in a new way. I think incorporating eggplant into a stir-fry or perhaps roasting it on a bed of crispy bacon and Manchego cheese are fresh approaches on the veggie.

I mean so many people think I’m weird as I like to incorporate vegetables into my smoothies. If I’m going to go orange, I just don’t utilize mangoes, oranges, carrots and peaches, I’ve been known to throw in some butternut squash too. The key is to soak it in a bit of water to loosen that starch. The same applies when I decide to go green, a little bit of broccoli never hurt anyone.

There is indeed a reason that nutritionists harp about the importance of consuming an adequate amount of vegetables each day: they do indeed have a crucial impact on our overall health.