Eleven Sure-Fire Ways to Eat More Veggies and Fruit
Everyone knows that eating enough veggies and fruits is good for your health. Fresh produce is rich in health-giving nutrients including vitamins, minerals, protective plant pigments and fibre. A diet rich in fruit and veggies is linked with a reduction in heart disease, some cancers and a healthy weight. Plus, apart from starchy foods such as potato, you can eat large amounts to satisfy mouth hunger. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends that we choose five serves of veggies and two fruits every day. And more than this if you like.
Focusing on fresh is important, because fresh veggies and fruits provide delicate water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins C and folate. Ideally, choose fresh, organic, seasonal and locally grown fruits and vegetables, however, frozen and canned produce also provide nutrients including antioxidants take beans and lentils and canned tomatoes and tomato pastes, for example. So how can you eat more and enjoy the health benefits?
- Eat what you like. Peas, beetroot, onions – all provide nutrients so why not eat what you enjoy?
- Try a savoury brekkie. Load an omelette with veggies or enjoy baked beans on toast with grilled tomatoes and mushrooms.
- Don't force yourself to eat something you really don't like. So, for example, if you don't like carrots, choose pumpkin because they're both orange foods which provide beta-carotene. This is great for eye health and is turned into vitamin A by your body. Don't like eggplant? Try blueberries or purple carrots.
- Taste something new each week. Have you looked on a supermarket shelf and wondered what a piece of produce was and what it tasted like? Take the plunge and try a new vegetable or fruit each week or even every month. From celeriac to custard apple, dragon fruit to daikon, there's a whole world of flavours for you to try and enjoy.
- Prepare them before you need them. Most of us struggle to find the time or energy to wash, peel and prepare produce especially after a long day of work or with kids' after-school activites. But it's worth spending the time washing and preparing vegetables ahead of time, when you can so that they're ready to throw in your lunches or dinners or ready to grab for a snack at home or pack for work.
- Pack in the flavour. Drizzle veggies with a little extra virgin olive oil and add flavour with fresh herbs, garlic, citrus or chilli.
- Try veggies based dips. Tomato salsa, homemade pesto and guacamole are easy to prepare. For a delicious guacamole, blend an avocado, add chopped tomatoes, red onion and chilli. Throw in some coriander and stir in some lime juice plus a little salt and pepper. Enjoy with carrot, capsicum and cucumber sticks, radishes or cauliflower florets.
- Try some tomato juice. Add Worcester sauce and a stick of celery to swizzle for a deliciously savoury treat.
- Use veggies in your cakes and bakes. Look for recipes that include avocado and beetroot.
- Plant your own veggie garden and get the kids to help. There's nothing like picking fresh veggies, fruit and herbs straight from the garden, patio or window box. And growing and preparing them with the kids means that they're more likely to try them, too.
- Sprout some seeds. Sprinkle some seeds on damp kitchen paper on the window sill. Try pea, bean, broccoli or alfalfa seeds. These are much richer in protective plant pigments and a concentrated source of vitamin C. Add to salads and sandwiches.
The practical bits:
- Start with salad - begin lunch and dinner with a salad
- Add veggies to salads, soups, casseroles and sauces
- Double the veggies in all recipes
- Load up your pizza with extra veggies - tomatoes, salad leaves, mushrooms and why not try using our cauliflower pizza base (recipe here)
- Add fruit to smoothies, cereal or yoghurt and pancake mixture
- Double the salad in your salad sandwiches and wraps
- Add canned beans or lentils to your soups and salads - these are classed as veggies but also provide protein and fibre to help fill you up and feed your healthy probiotic bacteria.