Do you eat enough vegetables? With less than 10% of all Aussies getting even close to the daily recommended intake of vegetables recommended for good health let alone the 7-10 serves (yes 7-10!) suggested for optimal health and longevity, chances are this is an area of your diet that could use a little work. While adding some salad to a sandwich or including a couple of vegetables on your plate with your evening meal is a good start, this typical intake falls far short of the volume of fresh produce we need to consume for both disease prevention and weight control. So, if you know your vegetable intake could use some work, here are some easy ways to double your intake overnight and reap the many health benefits associated with eating more vegetables.
Start with breakfast
You may not always think of breakfast and vegetables together but starting the day with a fibre and antioxidant hit makes sense nutritionally and is an easy way to give yourself at least a serve of veges before it hits 10am. Hot breakfasts such as eggs or avo on toast can easily be served with vege sides – think kale, spinach, tomato, asparagus and mushies, while a simple vege based juice will compliment any breakfast mix for very few calories. Think beetroot, celery, carrot, cucumber – which can either be juiced at home or purchased premade for a lot less mess and fuss from major supermarkets and juice bars.
Aim for one vege based meal each day
Eating more plant-based meals is not only good for the environment but good for the budget and nutrient intake across the board. Whether it is a soup, stir fry, salad or roasted vegetable dish, swapping out one meal each day for a plant-based alternative will significantly increase your daily intake of veges, taking you to more than 4-5 serves in a single meal. And even better, you don’t have to prepare everything from scratch, rather there are loads of vege rich frozen meal options including the brand-new Lean Cuisine Veg’d Up range including Spinach & Ricotta Cannelloni or Mushroom and Parmesan Risotto which contain 2 ½ serves of vegetables per meal.
Pack your daily snack supplies
When we are busy, we eat what food options are readily available to us, and this means that packing and keeping a healthy range of snacks on hand is imperative when it comes to eating well. Simply packing a container of chopped capsicum, celery, carrots and / or cucumbers to enjoy in the car or at your desk is one of the easiest ways to give yourself an extra serve or two a day of nutrient rich, low calorie vegetables, whilst saving plenty of calories on processed snacks that we tend to grab on the go.
Aim for ½ a plate at dinner
The mistake we make in Australia is loading our dinner plates up with large serves of protein at the expense of our veges. Ideally, we need at least 2 cups of vegetables or salad at dinner time or at least ½ of the plate. Using a spiralizer to make zucchini or pumpkin noodles; or cauliflower rice are two easy ways to replace out some carbs for extra vegetables in stir fries and pastas while a side salad or roasted vegetables go a long way in complimenting many different meals.
Make them taste good
Long gone are the days of soggy broccoli or overcooked beans, rather making your favourite veges taste good by enjoying them with a variety of delicious sauces, marinades and dressings can be the difference between tolerating vegetables and genuinely enjoying them. Think cheesy bakes, delicious stir fries and flavoursome salads and suddenly eating more vegetables will not be a chore at all.