Written by Shannon Lavery, Accredited Practising Dietitian
The health benefits of eating vegetables regularly have been documented and well known for decades. Vegetables are low in energy (kilojoule / calories) and high in vitamins, mineral, fibre and phytonutrients. Regular consumption of vegetables have been shown to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. Plus they help with feelings of satiety (fullness) and can help support weight management goals.
However our latest national nutrition survey found that less than 7% of Australians eat the recommended five serves of vegetables a day! And very few of us actually understand what a serve of vegetables looks like. In case you are wondering, a serve of vegetables is approximately 75g which equates to 1 cup of salad, ½ cup cooked vegetables or a medium tomato or potato.
So to help you reach your target of at least five serves of vegetables every day here are a five easy ways to sneak some extra veggies into your daily eating plans:
- Fill at least half your plate with vegetables at every meal! This works best with lunch and dinner meals, but can also be incorporated at breakfast too – try adding sautéed mushrooms, grilled asparagus, roasted tomatoes and baked beans to your next hot breakfast! Or try throwing baby spinach, cucumber or avocado into your favourite fruit smoothie.
- Plan ahead and cut up a range of veggie sticks to keep in the fridge for easy snacks, or portion into snap lock bags for work each day. Try thinking beyond the regular carrot and celery sticks; try slicing different colour capsicums or crunching on raw asparagus, snow peas or green beans. Serve with a couple of tablespoons of hummus or reduced fat cream cheese for a more filling snack.
- Swap rice for cauliflower or broccoli rice. These are now available in major grocery stores, or you can make them at home by using a food processor or basic grater.
- Trade spaghetti for zoodles (zucchini noodles). These are also available in major grocery stores or are easy to make using a vegetable spiralizer.
- Before vegetables go off try steaming them and blending into a thin puree (you may need to add a tiny bit of water depending on the vegetables you are using) then freeze in ice cube trays and add them as needed to casseroles and soups for an extra veggie hit that you won’t even notice!