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Easy ways to increase vegetables in your day

Do you find eating veggies difficult?  Or are you reading this thinking ‘Easy? I’ve tried everything and I still struggle to eat veggies?!’

We all know that we should eat more vegetables. It’s irrefutable that they are good for us. Studies have shown that the antioxidants and phytochemicals that vegetables naturally contain, can decrease the risk of developing heart disease and cancer, increase your immunity and help prevent obesity.  So, in essence, vegetables are vital to maintaining good health.

To be honest, sometimes they’re hard to eat…  especially when they’re served boiled, mushy and tasteless. It can also feel like a monotonous task. ‘Not another salad’, you may be thinking.

However, vegetables can be easy to cook and delicious! They can be used in so many different ways to create versatile, quick, easy and delicious family meals, that look and taste great!

Here are some practical ways (other than salads) that can help you include more vegetables into your day. Not only will you be giving your body lots of good nutrition, it’ll also mean you’re eating less of the ‘junk’ foods and that’s always a good thing.

Soups, stews and roasts

Now that the winter months are upon us, soups, stews and roasts are great ways to incorporate more veggies. They’re great comfort food and so easy to cook, especially if you have a slow cooker.  Load soups and stews up with pumpkin, sweet potato, leek, onion, parsnip, squash, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower. You can also add a tin of drained lentils, cannellini beans or borlotti beans to your soup or stew, for an extra fibre and protein boost. Complement your roast with crispy potatoes, steamed beans, sugar snap peas, broccoli, carrot, beetroot, parsnip, swede or squash.  The options are endless.  For an added bonus, make a little more of your next soup, stew or roast and then freeze it for a busy or rainy day!

Platters

Have guests coming around? Or maybe the kids are due to come home from school. Serve up a plate of chopped raw vegetables and your favourite dip. Vegetable platters are a quick and easy solution to those afternoon munchies while you’re cooking dinner. You can even chop in bulk and store in containers for quick access!  Why not try making a rainbow, by chopping carrots, cucumber, capsicum, corn and cherry tomatoes?  Vegetable platters look lovely and are so colourful! You’ll be surprised at how much your kids will enjoy it. As an added bonus, having vegetables pre-chopped, means you can easily access and create a vegetable based snack.  Why not try: slice up celery and spread with peanut butter or cream cheese; wholegrain crackers with avocado, or sliced tomato with cottage or ricotta cheese?

Pasta sauces and substitutes

A great way to make pasta sauces go that little bit further is to bulk it out with finely grated vegetables. Why not add carrot and zucchini to Bolognese sauce?  You can even experiment with substituting pasta sheets in a lasagna with thinly sliced eggplant or zucchini and fresh herbs. Adding fresh herbs like basil and thyme to a layered eggplant and/or zucchini lasagna, gives the dish a Mediterranean feel.

Egg Dishes

Eggs and vegetables are the perfect pair. Making a quiche? You can add shallots, parsley, roast capsicum, small cubes of sweet potato, baby spinach, tomato, grated zucchini and so much more. Making a vegetable filled omelet?  Omelets are a perfect way to whip together a healthy breakfast – or any meal for that matter!  You can add diced tomato, spinach and mushrooms, or can use any left over vegetables you have, as a ‘pot-luck’ omelet.

Smoothies

Not a juice, a smoothie. Juicing removes most of the pulp which contains fibre and a large proportion of the nutrients. Thus, all you’re left with is the flavour, liquid and sugar. The major health benefits of fruits and vegetables come from the fact that they contain fibre and large amount of nutrition for a very small amount of energy. Juicing defeats this purpose by removing the fibre and concentrating the energy. A smoothie, on the other hand, is where you blend fruits and vegetables together keeping the pulp in the juice. It’s filling, super nutritious and a creative way to eat your greens.

You can blend: carrots, celery, ginger, spinach, silver beet, apples, banana, passionfruit, mandarins, pears etc. Be adventurous!

Stir Fry

Stir fries take less than 5-10 minutes to cook and are easy to flavour. You can stir fry: Asian greens (bok choy, pack choy, choy sum), ginger, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, chestnuts, silverbeet and spinach.  Don’t have any of these in your fridge?  Don’t stress.  Get out some frozen veg, defrost and then add to a heated wok or pan. Frozen vegetables have the same nutritional quality as fresh vegetables, minus the quick use by date.  Next time you go shopping, take a quick look down the frozen food aisle, and pick a frozen veg mix.  They’re always handy to have in your freezer for the nights you’re not as prepared as you would have liked.

Make a Pie

Pies have to be the ultimate comfort food but it’s not generally thought of as healthy. Oodles of pastry and creamy fillings tend to make them high in energy and fat. There is still good news for pie lovers out there, all you need to do is reduce the amount of pastry, increase the amount of vegetables, minimize the creamy sauces and you’ve got a winter warmer winner!  Good pie fillings include: leek, mushrooms, carrot, celery, parsnip, chestnuts, cabbages, silverbeet and sweet potato.

Buff out your sandwich

You’re making a sandwich anyway so why not spend a couple of extra minutes, grating in some carrot, slicing up some tomato and cucumber and throwing on some lettuce. You can always use left over salad from a BBQ or other function.  Don’t like a soggy sandwich? Neither does half the population.  You can easily store the salad component to a sandwich or wrap in cling wrap or a container and put them together at lunchtime. Can’t be bothered to grate?  That’s okay.  Take advantage of pre-grated, washed and chopped vegetables available at the supermarket. Options are limitless!


If you’re still struggling to incorporate veggies into your day, need some extra inspiration, or would like some individualised advice on healthy eating, book in with one of our experienced dietitians online at The Healthy Eating Hub or call us on 6174 4663.