10 easy ways to include more vegetables every day by Tania Logan Dietitian and Diabetes Educator

Christina ReynoldsDietetics, Dietetics & Diabetes Education

We all know we should eat plenty of vegetables, but did you know that only 4% of Australians eat enough vegetables? The average Australian only eats half of what we need.

This week is National Nutrition Week, and the aim this year is to encourage everyone to eat more vegetables, and aim for the 5 serves we need each day. Whether they’re fresh, frozen or canned, eating more vegetables is one of the easiest things we can do to improve our health and wellbeing. Vegetables are full of important vitamins and minerals, they contain fibre that helps keep our gut healthy, and antioxidants that help fight disease.

Eating vegetables doesn’t have to be difficult, and it certainly doesn’t need to feel like you are existing on lettuce leaves. Here are my top 10 tips to include more vegetables every day.

1. Dips and dippers
Snacking on celery and carrot sticks may be healthy, but it could soon get boring. Vegetable dips make vegetable crudités or crackers much more interesting. My quick easy tzatziki recipe and hummus recipe are delicious additions to your snack repertoire.

2. Snack on chicknuts
Roasted chickpeas are a delicious way to include more vegetables. Legumes are incredibly healthy. They are full of fibre which helps keep our bowels healthy, especially soluble fibre which is great for our cholesterol levels. They have a low glycaemic index which is great for people with diabetes. You can make your own roasted chickpeas www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/recipe/crispy-chickpea-snack) using this recipe from Nutrition Australia or you will find packaged varieties in the supermarket.

3. Savour your muffins
Savoury muffins are quick and easy to make, and they are so versatile. They are great for lunch or a snack, and are perfect in the lunch box or on a picnic. Carrot and Zucchini Muffins (recipe) are our family favourite. I enjoy mine served with cream cheese or sour cream.

4. Mexican delight
Try your own mini Mexican layered dip for lunch. Chop an egg tomato into a small container or bowl. Top with a few spoonfuls of guacamole, then a layer of sour cream or greek yoghurt. Top with some shredded lettuce and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Serve with tortilla chips or pita crisps.

5. Mediterranean inspired lunch
Try something special this weekend for lunch. Lightly toast some sourdough bread. Top with a selection of grilled eggplant or zucchini, roasted capsicum, sundried tomatoes, olives and feta. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.

6. Veggies for breakfast?
Egg on toast is fine for breakfast, but why not add a quick, easy veggie hit. Top your toast with avocado, sliced tomato, baby spinach, then finish off with your poached egg. You can even add veggies to your bacon and egg breakfast. Try pan fried mushrooms, grilled tomato or zucchini, and wilted spinach.

7. Sensational salads
Salad should not be boring rabbit food! Think outside the square and make a salad of left over roast vegetables like pumpkin or sweet potato, capsicum, zucchini, asparagus, and cherry tomatoes. Serve with baby spinach, olives or fetta.

8. Real men do eat quiche
Quiches and frittatas are a good way to add more vegetables to your day. They are great for a main meal with vegetables or salad, or as a lunch option. Look for varieties that go easy on the bacon and ham, but are packed with vegetables. This Sweet Potato, Rocket and Asparagus Frittata (www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/recipes/2010/march/sweet-potato-rocket-and-asparagus-frittata) from the Australian Healthy Food Guide, is a great example.

9. Souper easy for lunch or dinner
The weather might be getting warmer, but soup is still a great meal option. A big batch of vegetable soup is an easy dinner and the left overs make excellent lunches. Experiment with pumpkin soup, minestrone, or just a good, old fashioned, chicken and vegetable soup.

10. Roast it up
Roast vegetables are my absolute favourite way to eat vegetables. I love roast potatoes, and pride myself on getting mine crisp on the outside, but tender in the middle. We also routinely roast pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, asparagus, choko, and Brussels sprouts. Check out my Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe or the Oven Baked Salmon and Vegetables recipe for more inspiration on delicious roast vegetables.

You can find more information on National Nutrition Week at www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/national-nutrition-week. Nutrition Australia also has lots of other ideas for including vegetables in your diet, as well as a range of fabulous recipes.

If you would like help with developing healthy eating or lifestyle behaviours, or if you would like practical assistance for including more vegetables in your diet, please contact me. You can find my contact details and how to book an appointment on our website at www.zestinfusion.com.au.

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