I am about to tell you the most important piece of nutrition advice that you’ll ever hear.
“Eat more vegetables!”
Every man and his dog wants to ‘lose weight’ and ‘get fit’. If you really want to set yourself apart from the crowd and set a health goal that’s really special, then this one is for you!
Vegetables are vital to maintaining good health. Studies show that the antioxidants and phytochemicals that vegetables naturally contain can decrease your risk of developing heart disease and cancer, increase your immunity and help prevent overweight and obesity. In fact, when compared to taking antioxidant supplements, eating fresh vegetables is far superior at promoting good health.
The reason vegetables are so good for us is not because of their individual nutrients (like vitamins) but because of their 100s of health promoting chemicals all working together when you eat a vegetable whole. No green powder or supplement could ever match that!
If you grew up eating vegetables boiled to within an inch of their life or feel clueless as to what to do with a sweet potato, capsicum, or broccoli when it’s put in front of you, then please read on. Vegetable cooking and inspiration are on their way!
Here are ten ways to eat more vegetables:
The weather will warm up soon (being optimistic) and quick, easy, weeknight salads are a great way to get in a fantastic variety of vegetables. Here’s a salad recipe of mine with crispy pan fried salmon: salmon salad with yoghurt dressing.
Have guests coming round? Or maybe the kids are due to come home from school? Serve up a plate of chopped raw vegetables and your favourite dip. It looks lovely and colourful and is great to munch on over the afternoon and while you’re cooking dinner. You’ll be surprised at how much your kids will enjoy it. Check out my recent post: how to make a fruit and vegetable tasting plate.
A great way to make pasta sauces go that little bit further is to bulk them out with finely grated vegetables. I like to add carrot and zucchini to bolognese sauce and I make another meatless sauce with garlic, onions, chili, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and rocket all tossed together with some lemon juice. Yum! Check out my recipe: feta and grilled vegetables with pasta.
Winter is also a great time for pasta bakes and pies. Instead of adding lots of breadcrumbs, pastry and cheese on top of these dishes try mashing steamed cauliflower with some low fat ricotta or cottage cheese and using that instead. Mashed regular potato or sweet potato is another healthy pie-topper.
I also make a delicious chicken and vegetable pie, that does have a small amount of pastry on top but is packed full of vegetables making it extremely filling yet low calorie.
Substitute the pasta sheets in a lasagna with thinly sliced eggplant or serve a bowl of freshly steamed beans, snow peas and sugarsnap peas with a tasty tomato based sauce instead of using pasta.
Most of the time I like to make up a large bowl of salad and then serve it as a side dish with practically anything. I even serve it up with a cooked frozen pizza or a toasted sandwich because you can never eat too many vegetables!
I love eggs and they go so well with vegetables. Making a quiche? You can add shallots, parsley, roast capsicum, small cubes of sweet potato, baby spinach, tomato, grated zucchini and so much more. A vegetable filled omelette is a great healthy breakfast (and you know you’re doing well when you’re having vegetables for breakfast).
Sandwiches and wraps
Fill your sandwich or lunch wrap with vegetables as much as you can such as baby spinach, rocket, roast capsicum, eggplant and artichoke, grated carrot, sliced tomato, cucumber, capsicum and onions, shredded lettuce or mashed avocado.
Soups are a great ways to eat vegetables. Load them up with pumpkin, sweet potato, leek, onions, parsnip, squash, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and much more. I also like to add a tin of drained lentils, cannellini beans or borlotti beans to my soup to give it a bit of a fibre and protein boost. Soup is great to make when you have some spare time and then freeze it for a busy or rainy day! Try our hearty pumpkin soup or chicken soup packed with silverbeet and other vegetables.
I love a good stew, especially in winter. It’s gloriously warming comfort food and they are so easy to cook, especially if you have a slow cooker. One of my favourite winter dishes is a lamb and lentil stew full of carrots, celery, tomatoes, fennel, onions and garlic. It’s so yummy! You can find the recipe here.
There is nothing wrong with a hearty roast. I love the tasty meat and crispy potatoes topped with gravy. All you need to do to make it a well balanced meal is decrease your portion of meat and potatoes and fill your plate with steamed beans, sugar snap peas, broccoli and carrots. Try roasted beetroot, parsnip, swede or squash. I also really enjoy shredded english spinach, steamed until wilted and then drizzled with fresh lemon juice!
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