Often, we focus on getting in enough protein. We track our intake of fat. Some closely monitor their sugar intake… but is anyone counting their vegetables?! 5 servings a day is a minimum requirement, but frankly, I rarely see clients who meet this conservative amount. We know that the consumption of fruit and vegetables is linked to a reduced likelihood of chronic disease. Fibre, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, water, vitamins and minerals, and even nutrients like omega 3 and protein, yes protein! are in our beloved vegetables.Therefore, for optimum health and in line with using food as preventative medicine, the amount we strive for should be much, much higher. I believe eight servings a day is a better recommendation, with no end in sight! My advice: Eat as many as you can fit in! The below ideas are ways to creatively include veg into your meals, for you or perhaps for fussy kids, to boost the nutrient content, colours, flavours and even texture, and far exceed 5 servings a day…
- Smoothies – 1,2,3 even 4 handfuls of greens! When you blend them, they break down and you won’t even notice, especially spinach or cos lettuce.
- Aim for 3+ cups with main meals such as salads and stir-fries – leafy greens, a variety of chopped raw salad veggies, and roast veg. Include a combination of all three.
- Soups – you can make soups 100% vegetables, from using veggie stock (loaded with nutrients), to chopping veg in or pureeing it. Sometimes I even puree it e.g. cauliflower soup, and then top it with mushrooms, broccoli or sliced zucchini for texture. A cup of veg soup makes a great afternoon snack or dinner starter.
- Snack on carrots, capsicums, cucumber, celery – crunchy foods are often more satisfying, aren’t they? Keeping sliced veg sticks handy are a quick go-to snack to enjoy, whilst upping your veggie intake. Pair with dip such as hummus or nut butter for satiation.
- Blend them into a dressing – sometimes I throw in capsicum, zucchini, cucumber, beetroot or carrot in a salad dressing with things like tahini or miso. Makes for a beautiful colour and tasty flavours!
- Veggie Juice – juice more veg to fruit for a healthy juice combo that is sure to give you an energy boost! Even better – use things you would usually throw out, like celery or beet leaves, where there is actually a substantial amount of nutrition. Throw in lots of lemon and/or some green apple, and you will mask any bitterness.
- Grate carrot or zucchini – in your oats +/bircher, blend tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots, zucchini, broccoli in your dips like hummus, try beetroot muffins… easy, delicious and great for variety!