I’m always banging on about the benefits of fruit and veg consumption, and that we need to make an effort to make sure we are getting our recommended intake every day.
The health benefits of fruit and veg are well established in the peer reviewed literature. They are an amazing source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients that can calm inflammation and counteract free radical and DNA damage. Peer reviewed studies abound which show that increasing your fruit and veg intake can reduce your risk of obesity, many cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, stroke, heart attack and even depression and dementia! They are also known to boost our endothelial function (the health of our blood vessels) and even our immune system.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that Australians consume 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day, but a recent study revealed that higher intakes deliver greater health benefits (you can read more about that here!)
So making sure you're you get your five and two a day should be a no-brainer!
But sadly, the most recent Australian Heath Survey revealed that less than 4% of Australians are consuming the recommended amounts of vegetables. This is a huge missed opportunity for our health and longevity.
So I'm on a mission to get everyone eating more veggies!
And here are my top tips!
1. Serve a salad
I NEVER get sick of salad (you can read why here) and that's mainly because I have a repertoire of salads I love to eat AND which I can throw together in less than 10 minutes! There are no rules about what has to go into the salad, or what it is dressed with or even if it is a warm or cold salad. There just has to be a salad.
2. Snack smarter
Somewhere along the line we got very confused about the difference between a snack and a treat. We need to turn away from sugary and highly processed "treats" and towards delicious, nutritious whole food snacks that will give us a nutrient boost to keep us fuelled between meals. And a great way to do this is to add a veggie to every snack. You can even go for double points and dip veggie sticks into veggie dips! Think beyond the usual carrot and celery sticks. We like to chop up red and green capsicum (bell peppers), radishes, green beans, fennel and even firm leafies like whitlof. And dip them into delicious pestos, guacamoles, salsas and pumpkin or beetroot hummus.
3. Soup it up
Soups are a great way to easily add a delicious veggie boost to your diet! And in the winter months they are warming too. Just like salad, I NEVER get sick of soup. Why would I? There are so many different soups to try! Check out my recipes for Split Pea Soup, Lazy Pumpkin Soup, Lemony Lentil & Spinach Soup, Spicy Gazpacho, Green Gazpacho, Sunshine Gazpacho, Spotted Soup and Pumpkin & Lentil Soup.
4. Sip smoothies
I ADORE green (and not so green!) smoothies - provided they are done right (and you can read my tips for having the healthiest green smoothies HERE!). They can be an effortless way to help you boost your daily veg intake (and your health!).
5. Play the Rainbow Game!
They say what gets measured gets managed. So keep track of your veg intake to see how much veg you are eating each day, and brainstorm ways to add in more! Adding a bit of fun and healthy competition (even if it is only with yourself!) can be a great motivator to eat a rainbow of healthy veggies every day. I wrote about this here! AND I created a FREE PRINTABLE WORKSHEET to help you play the Rainbow Game, and track your intake of delicious, healthy, colourful veggies and fruit each day! It's waiting for you in the Resources Library exclusively available to my email mailing list members! Sign up to my mailing list HERE to get access to this and more than a dozen other helpful resources.
6. Sneak it in
Ask yourself: what veggie can I sneak into this dish? There are soooo many ways you can add veg to your cooking and baking! I like to chop capsicum and carrot into my chilli, grate beetroot into chocolate cake (recipe coming soon!), make carrot cake, pumpkin bread, add baby spinach to omelettes. There are so many things you can do - and 99% of the time they make your original dish taste even better!
7. Make veggie noodles (or fettuccine!)
Spiralisers are all the rage these days. And did you know you can make noodles out of lots of different veggies, not just zucchini. Try carrot and beetroot too. Just spiralise a few different veggies and toss in a pesto or dressing of you choice! Oh, and if you don't have a spiraliser (or if you are like me and too lazy to use one!) just use a veggie peeler and make veggie fettuccine!
8. Make a habit of roasting up a tray of veggies
I wrote about this HERE. One way to ensure you will eat your veggies is to actually cook them! Roasting up a tray of veggies is such a fast and easy thing to do. You can eat the roasted veggies warm and have the leftovers the next day in a salad or a wrap. Be adventurous! Don't limit yourself to pumpkin and sweet potato. Pretty much any veggie can be roasted - think broccoli, green beans (check out this divine recipe!), beetroot, cauliflower (you HAVE to try this, this or this!), zucchini, carrots, eggplant (try this or this!) and tomatoes!
9. Try something new!
Visit your local greengrocer or farmers market, browse around and pick a veggie you've never tried before. Ask the seller if they have any tips for how to prepare and enjoy it, or google around to find a recipe that appeals and have fun experimenting!