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Herbs and Spices Pump Up Vegetable Intake

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How seasonings contribute to vegetable selection at lunchtime

The struggle is real!  Kids aren’t the only ones that need coaxing to eat their veggies.  According to the most recent dietary guidelines, teenagers have the most improving to do but adults also need a big a push.  More than 90% of Americans just don’t eat enough veggies- is it because they’re perceived as bland?  Could seasonings help serve up more servings of vegetables at lunchtime?

Researchers at the University of Illinois took on the task of enticing adults (752 in total) to eat more vegetables by offering two versions, one unseasoned (steamed) and the other seasoned with herbs and spices.   Participants who purchased a hot lunch were offered vegetables at no additional cost and everyone who ate in the café was asked to complete a survey that included questions regarding food preferences, eating habits and willingness to pay for a vegetable side dish.  Over a three week period, investigators found that people who infrequently ate vegetables at lunch were 1.5 times more likely to select seasoned vegetables vs unseasoned. 

It was also interesting to note that of café goers - men were significantly more likely to choose vegetables with seasoning.  Also, it was noted that regular veggie eaters in the café were more likely to choose the steamed option. 

Research has shown that those of us that do eat vegetables regularly do so more frequently at dinner, making breakfast and lunch easy targets for adding just one more serving a day.  Start slow - habits won’t change overnight, but if you can find a few staple recipes to add to your lunchbox repertoire, you’ll be one step closer to getting there. 

Try these Sunflower Crunch Pockets and Nicoise Salad Jars - they’re easy to make in advance and a portable way to pack in your veggies wherever you find yourself lunching.   

First Published September, 2017

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