Does it surprise you to know that about half of Australians report eating the recommended two serves of fruit per day, while less than a tenth of us report meeting our five serves of veggies? While it is easy to grab an orange or a handful of grapes for a quick mid-afternoon snack, vegetables often require more time and effort to prepare. It is no surprise that we would rather reach for an apple, or more likely a muesli bar or bag of crisps, than prepare a healthy veggie snack.
When I talk with people about their vegetable intake, I see the same thing time and time again- people including vegetables at dinner, but at no other meals throughout the day. It is difficult to achieve your veggie needs through one meal alone. To put it in perspective, a meal that contains five serves of veg would look something like: 1 cup of salad, 1 cup steamed broccoli, ½ of a sweet potato, and ½ cup peas. Not impossible, but it certainly doesn’t leave room for much else on your plate.
Plus, one of the major benefits of vegetable intake is the fibre that keeps our gut running smoothly and prevents constipation. It is much better to distribute this fibre throughout your day than to have most it in one go.
To help you meet your vegetable requirements, I have made a list of breakfast, lunch and snack ideas. Many of these are simple additions to existing foods, and they won’t break the bank!
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, here is a great article about the quality of frozen veg. Frozen vegetables are quick to prepare, inexpensive, and just as nutritious as cooking fresh. In some cases, frozen vegetables pack more nutrients than fresh, as the snap-freezing process is great at preserving nutrients while fresh veggies lose nutrients the longer they sit on the shelf in the store and your pantry.
- Grilled or sautéed veggies on toast- try mushrooms, tomato, spinach or capsicum
- Beans on toast- a good ol’ Aussie favourite!
- Corn & zucchini fritters- try this recipe from our blog
- Veggie sticks with low-fat dip or salsa- try celery, carrots, capsicum, or cucumber
- Coleslaw or a side salad with lunch- (remember to be mindful of the dressing)
- Add veggies to your sandwich- such as lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber
- Easy-to-munch raw snack veggies- try cherry tomatoes, snow peas, string-beams, or celery
- Ants on a log- celery with peanut butter and sultanas (one of my childhood favourites!)
- Smoothie with a mix of fruit and veg- such as carrot, celery, cucumber and spinach
- Baking with veggies- veggie muffins, veggie nuggets, veggie frittata muffins