Eating more vegetables every day is a sure way to improve your health by filling you up (more fibre) and providing essential vitamins to aid your body in maintaining vital functions. We should all be eating 5 – 6 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit a day. Some people struggle to eat vegetables because of past experiences with badly cooked vegetables or lack of knowledge of how to prepare them. That is why I have put together this list of ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet.
A serve of vegetables is about 75g or:
- 1/2 cup cooked green or orange vegetables, e.g. broccoli, spinach, carrots
- 1/2 cup cooked beans, peas or lentils
- 1 cup green leafy or raw salad vegetables
- 1/2 cup sweet corn
- 1/2 medium potato, sweet potato, taro or other starchy vegetable
- 1 medium tomato
Depending on the vegetable and the cooking method, a standard serve of vegetables is only 100 – 350kJ (24 – 84kCal). Compared to a small ham sandwich (approx. 271kCal), a meat pie (445kCal) or a Big Mac from McDonalds (520kCal), a large salad will only set you back 50 – 200 kCal depending on the ingredients. Eating a diet that includes plenty of vegetables is essential for healthy weight control. One of my strategies to lose weight was to increase the number of serves of vegetables. I credit that one dietary change for most of my successful weight loss.
Here are some ways to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet:
- A large salad for lunch, like my Super Spinach Salad recipe
- A smoothie with vegetables e.g. spinach, kale, carrot, zucchini, beetroot. Try my Blueberry Smoothie recipe
- Load other meals such as stews, bolognese, and pasta bakes with vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, spinach, carrots etc. If you have fussy eaters in the family, try grating carrots, zucchini etc. so that they’re barely visible
- A large stir-fry
- Soup loaded with vegetables, like my healthy vegetable soup recipe
- Sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, cucumber etc. and meat or cheese.
- Mexican food like tacos, burritos, nachos can be loaded with legumes such as kidney beans. We have grated carrots, shredded lettuce, corn, tomatoes and guacamole on ours as well
- Try having a meatless day at least once a week. There are so many options for vegetarian recipes online these days that it’s not difficult to think up ideas for meatless days
- Carrot or celery sticks with hummus
- Add spinach or grilled tomato or mushrooms to your breakfast, e.g. in an omelette
- Potato or sweet potato wedges with tomato salsa
- Potato salad or bake
- Make or buy zucchini noodles to use instead of pasta.
Vegetables don’t necessarily have to be fresh. Frozen, canned and dried (legumes like beans or lentils) are all an excellent option. In our supermarkets we can buy vegetables pre-cut and ready to cook which is a great time-saving idea. I prefer to steam most of my vegetables in the microwave for a couple of minutes, or stir fry them. This retains the crispness and flavour.
These are just some of the ways you can incorporate vegetables into your diet. I’d love to hear from you some other ideas because I’m always interested in healthy options! If you enjoyed this, you may enjoy Why Your Waist Measurement Matters.
Main Image from Amroon Ra, Unsplash