10 simple tricks to sneak more vegetables in your diet
Do your meals tend to look mostly beige on your plate? When was the last time you had a portion of veg? Can’t remember? Don’t worry – you are not alone! According to latest research, nearly 70% of Brits don’t eat their ‘5 a day’.
But how much is enough? Nutritionists and food experts have been saying for some time now, that the ‘5 a day’ rule is outdated and should be seen as the minimum, not the optimum recommended daily intake. But does this mean five apples a day will keep the doctor away? What are the rules?
Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at www.SuperfoodUK.com – the online shopping destination for all things health and wellbeing – says: “People don’t generally seem to have a problem eating fruit and the 5 a day concept is confusing – with some thinking that the message translates into 5 portions of fruit per day. Fruit, while nutritionally good for us, does still contain natural sugar (fructose) so the ratio should be 1 portion of fruit to 4 portions of vegetables. If you eat more than 5 portions of vegetables in one day, do not exceed more than 1-2 portions of fruit.”
We know it’s not easy to snack on carrot snacks every day, so with in this in mind, we asked our nutritionists to give us their favourite tricks on how to sneak in ‘5 a day’ in our diet.
Give your meal a plus one. “With the evening meal you can have a serving of steamed vegetables as well as a raw salad. This is also great if you are trying to cut down on starchy carbohydrates with your evening meal such as pasta, potatoes or rice. Be inventive with salads – don’t just stick to lettuce and tomatoes. Add to lettuce, rocket and kale, small chopped pieces of broccoli, green beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, and beetroot to have alongside different leaves. Add a dressing before serving,” suggests Wilkinson.
Blend it baby! “Soups are a fantastic way of using any odds and ends of vegetables in the fridge, especially those that are starting to look a bit limp and sad! Gently steam all vegetables, add lots of garlic, onions and herbs such as rosemary, caraway and thyme. Then blend in a food mixer or liquidiser. Serve hot or cold!” says Cassandra Barns, nutritionist.
Have a smart smoothie morning. “Blend with a glass of water and add some apple or berries, spinach leaves, a little fennel, cucumber, celery and rocket. There is the option of an avocado too to make it creamier. Add a small grating of ginger to warm it up! You can also add spirulina, chlorella, or Irish Moss powder to the juice to increase a dose of extra minerals, B vitamins and enzymes to the juice, such as Natures Plus Ultra Juice Green Powder,” recommends Cassandra.
Roasted and ready. “Roasted vegetables are quick an easy: cover in coconut oil, rosemary, thyme, and a little salt and cook in the oven till golden brown and a little crispy. You can drizzle on a little more olive oil before serving. Have a go with roast peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, fennel, carrots, beetroot, pumpkin, butter nut squash, large tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes and don’t forget that onion and garlic are vegetables too. They have a soft sweet taste once roasted and add flavour to any plate!” Wilkinson recommends.
Omelettes overboard! Wilkinson says: “Put as many chopped vegetables in as you please (avoid potatoes) for a colourful, easy dish. Think: peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, onions and mushrooms. Omelettes are also great to eat the next day for lunch on the go.”
Wrap it up. Barns says: “We have been stuffing peppers for years. In the same theme – instead of bread, use large lettuce leaves to wrap around fish, meat or other fillings (e.g lentils, beans, lamb mince). You can also fill chicory leaves with a vegetables filling or prawn mayonnaise.”
It’s all about preparation. “Make crudities the evening before to take to work the next day in a plastic container – such as sugar snap peas, carrots, peppers (red, green, yellow), celery, cucumber and courgette. A healthy snack to dip into cottage cheese, nut butters (e.g almond, cashew and hazelnut) guacamole or hummus,” Wilkinson tells us.
Swap your carbs for veg. “Instead of wraps use crisp gem lettuce leaves, try a spiraliser to make courgetti and ditch white rice – it’s all about cauliflower rice,” suggests Wilkinson.
Show me the veg! Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, explains: “Just like you keep sweets out of sight to discourage never-ending snacking, keeping veggies in sight will help you think of them as an option for eating. Fill a fruit bowl at work and keep a bowl on the kitchen counter at home so you’ll be more likely to snack on carrot and celery sticks.”
Homemade crisps. “If you’ve got a weakness for the nation’s favourite snack, crisps, you can swap them for homemade vegetable crisps. Simply slice parsnip, carrots and beetroots into long pieces and layer them on baking trays. Sprinkle with salt, chilli or pepper and enjoy!” says Barns.
Main image above credit: pixabay.com/condesign