Vegetables are not always the most popular food item on our menu but why not change this in 2015? The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends adults consume 5-6 serves of vegetables each day. I serve being about ½ cup cooked or 1 cup raw vegetables including salads. Most people don’t get this much vegetables, in fact According to the Australian Health Survey, only 1 in 14 Australians eat enough fruit & vegetables and 1 in 4 don’t eat vegetables! So there’s definitely room for improvement.
But why eat so much vegetables…?
Vegetables including salads according to the Australian National Health & Medical Research Council are nutrient dense, low in kilojoules, and are a good source of minerals and vitamins (such as magnesium, vitamin C and folate), dietary fibre and a range of phytochemicals including carotenoids.There is also strong evidence that for each serve of vegetables eaten each day the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced and there is a reduced risk of stroke and weight gain.
They are also value for kilojoules / calories meaning you can eat a lot more of them which helps you fill up and makes your plate look more full with less impact on your waistline. Note: fill up more on low kilojoule non-starchy vegetables e.g. spinach, zucchini, cauliflower, tomatoes etc than starchy vegetables e.g. potatoes
How to eat more vegetables…
If you’re not a good vegetable eater or limit your vegetable intake to lettuce and tomato, it’s never too late to change this for the reasons mentioned above. How to get from 1-2 serves per day to 5-6 serves? Try these tips:
- Add vegetables to your both your lunch meal and dinner meal – try and increase the low kilojoule vegetable portions sizes at these meals
- Snack on vegetables between meals or when you get the munchies at night e.g. a pun net of cherry tomatoes, carrot & celery sticks, a cucumber etc
- Add pureed steamed vegetables to sauces to disguise them. This is often a trick used to disguise vegetables in children’s meals but it’s just as handy for adults!
- If you don’t like vegetables, then it’s time to find ways to like them. Perhaps you need to learn how to cook and flavour them. Try including 1 new vegetable each week or month and cooking and flavouring it in different ways until you find a way you like it. Note: if you simply steam it and try and learn to love it like that, you may struggle. Instead, steam it and then add a flavoursome dressing or sauce to it e.g. lemon juice, crushed garlic, chopped basil or oregano, cracked pepper and salt. Rub it with a bit of olive oil, garlic, balsamic vinegar, cracked pepper and a pinch of salt and bake it in the oven. Add it to a bolognaise sauce.
- Research recipes using different vegetables and start experimenting. Don’t give up if the first few tries aren’t successful, try cooking vegetables in different ways with different sauces, herbs or spices until you find some favourites. It may take you 10 tries to like it but the effort is well worth it.
Overall, vegetables should be your best friend so in 2015 work on increasing your intake of these nutritious foods. Look at the recipe section of this website for ways to include more vegetables and plant-based foods in your diet.
Need more information on eating vegetables, read more here.