We know our garden veggies are good for us: they’re packed full of important nutrients and they’re also very low in kilojoules, meaning we can fill-up without filling out.
But getting the recommended 5 serves of vegetables every day can be a challenge. Here’s 12 fun ways to sneak more vegetables into your diet.
1. Start the day with veggies
Veggies aren’t just for lunch and dinner, they also deserve a spot at our breakfast table. Why not start your day with a nutrient-packed omelette? Things like mushrooms, baby spinach, tomato and onion taste fantastic with eggs. Plus the egg protein will keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of succumbing to sugary snacks before lunchtime.
2. Spread your vegetables
The fat in butter and mayonnaise adds unnecessary kilojoules to your lunchtime sandwich. Make your spreads work harder: use veggie spreads instead. Try making a beetroot spread by blending a can of beetroot with a little low-fat natural yoghurt, or make a spinach spread by blending low-fat cream cheese with spinach and a little spring onion. You’ll cut the amount of fat in your sandwiches and boost the amount of vitamins and minerals. You could also switch butter or margarine for avocado.
3. Make a homemade pizza
Pizza doesn’t always have to be sinful. A homemade pizza topped with lots of vegetables makes for a very healthy dinner. Try using chopped mushrooms, capsicum, tomatoes, red onion, olives, spinach, pumpkin, rocket and a little ricotta for a healthy dinner option. Also try switching your thick pizza base for pita bread or Mountain Bread.
4. Grate vegetables into your mince
Add to your daily veggie quota by bulking up your mince with grated vegetables. It only takes a moment to grate a carrot and a zucchini and stir these into your mince meat before you start forming burger patties and meatballs. In doing so, you’ll reduce the amount of fat, increase the amount of fibre, and add extra nutrition to your diet. This trick also works really well if you’ve got fussy little ones to feed.
5. Keep vegetables in cans
Keeping your pantry well stocked with canned vegetables means you can easily add veggies to your meals even if you haven’t had the chance to stock up on fresh produce. Juicy corn kernels and whole baby beets make a great addition to salads, and cans of chopped red tomatoes are always handy to have when putting together a pasta or stew.
6. Eat more soup
Homemade soup makes for a convenient lunch or dinner, and it’s a really easy way to pack extra vegetables into your diet. And best of all? It’s dirt-cheap to make. Buy whatever vegetables are in season or on special and make a big batch of soup at the start of the week. Heat it up for a quick and easy meal when you’re short on time.
7. Drink your vegetables
Vegetables are generally lower in sugar than fruit, meaning substituting a few fruits with some veggies in your next smoothie or juice will cut out some of those extra kilojoules. Try making a green-power smoothie with kale or spinach for those times when you’re on-the-go.
8. Use frozen vegetables
Frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as their fresh friends. The veggies you find in the freezer section of your supermarket are snap-frozen within 24 hours of being picked, keeping their flavour and nutrition locked in. If you’re cooking for one, it can be challenging to use a variety of vegetables in each meal. Try keeping a bag of frozen mixed vegetables in your freezer to add to stir-fries, stews and casseroles whenever you’re cooking for one.
9. Chop up vegetables to snack on
Is there a cheaper, more nutritious snack than carrot and celery sticks? Pick up some extra carrots and celery next time you’re at the supermarket and chop them up into bite sized pieces. Store them in the fridge for a quick and easy veggie snack when hunger strikes. Now there’s no excuse for eating the chocolate biscuits!
10. Cook extra vegetables
If you’re eating vegetables most nights, but don’t touch them during the day, one solution is to always make sure you have leftovers. Cook more vegetables than you can eat each night, toss them with some sesame seeds or a splash of balsamic vinegar or olive oil, and take them to work for a healthy veggie snack.
11. Grow your own vegetables
You’re more likely to eat the produce you grow yourself. And the good thing is, you don’t need a large garden bed to do it. Small veggies with big flavour can be grown in pots in a small courtyard or on the window sill. Plant a small chilli plant, some cherry tomatoes, spinach or herbs in pots close to your kitchen for easy access when you’re cooking!
12. Try a new vegetable
Bored of vegetables? Why not try something new. Visit your local greengrocer and pick up a vegetable you’ve never heard of before. Have some fun in the kitchen learning how to cook with it. You never know, it could just be your new favourite food!
Image courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/36131061@N00/35819369/