We are all too familiar with the ‘eat five a day’ phrase. Yes, we’re talking about fruit and vegetables. We are told time and time again how important it is to get your five a day for a thriving body and mind and the stats do back it up. Eating more vegetables reduces heart disease, obesity, type two diabetes and can even protect against certain types of cancers. So it’s a no brainer really – but how can you actually get more fruit and vegetables in your diet?
1. Make fresh juices and smoothies.
This is such an easy win when it comes to getting a large hit of fruit and veg into your system AND tastes delicious. For ultimate veggie hit, go for a green machine packed with spinach, kale, avocado, apple and ginger. Or if your palate prefers something sweeter, blend some berries with mango, almond milk and honey. Essentially – any combination works, so have fun experimenting and enjoying so much vitamin goodness!
2. Replace carbs with vegetables
Another very easy change that you could make to your favourite meals. Replace pasta with courgetti or another vegetable spiralised – butternut squash works particularly well too. Swap in your potatoes for a big pile of greens – perhaps steamed kale, spinach and chard sprinkled with sesame seeds! Instead of rice, why not chop up lots of colourful root vegetables and roast them in the oven with herbs and olive oil. If you find that vegetables don’t fill you up as much as carbs, remember you can eat MORE veg! Low calorie content means more free reign to eat the vegetables you love – winning!
3. Create delicious salads
Explore salad options – there are thousands. Whether you’ve got a warm salad, cold salad, dressing or no dressing, I think you’ll be surprised at how many options there are out there. Salads can be made up of so many elements; we’re not talking lettuce and a bit of cucumber here! Roasted vegetables could compliment a bed of spinach with sweet balsamic vinegar. Or crispy kale with chestnuts, bacon and roasted sweet potato. Try any combo with any dressing and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds for a speedy iron hit.
4. Eat vegetables that are in season.
Every month there are particular fruit and veg, which are ripe, ready and in season. Essentially – they are at their prime! The best seasonal veg in January and February are carrots, kale, cabbage, leeks, brussel sprouts and cauliflower. These alone provide so many vegetable options – cauliflower rice for example or sautéed cabbage and kale with garlic.
5. Find different ways to eat old favourites.
Sure you like potatoes – but have you tried straying away from your usual boiled pots and making them into a delicious salad with herbs and cherry tomatoes? You might be a fan of cucumber, but have you thrown them together with sweet orange pieces and roasted nuts in a salad? There are so many ways to eat your favourite veg. Go out of your way to find out how you could eat them differently! Think outside the box!
6. Make sweet treats with a dose of fruit and vegetable.
This is a sneaky way to get the good stuff into your body. I recently whipped up some brownies and chucked in a punnet and a half of raspberries. Simple!!
7. Eat chunk dips
I am obsessed with a chunky guacamole or salsa. If you make these dips fresh, they are PACKED with vegetable goodness. Make a guacamole from scratch with avocado, limes, ground pepper and cherry tomatoes or cut up beef tomatoes to create a salsa. Don’t stop there – you could also make your own beetroot dip or hummus.
8. Go vegetarian one day a week
This will force you to be more creative with your vegetables! Cook up a vegetarian alternative to your favourite meal, such as curry or shepherds pie. Cut out the bacon and sausages in your morning breakfast and replace with mushrooms and tomatoes. Go veggie for the day and you’ll be full of way more than your five a day!!
9. Try vegetables you’ve never eaten before!
Have you ever cooked with chicory, radishes, turnips or artichokes? Those are just some of the more unusual vegetables but it could be as simple as eating an aubergine if you’ve never tried one before. Open your taste buds to more veggie variation!
10. Add spinach
You can add spinach to pretty much anything to boost your vitamin intake. Smoothies, pasta, breakfast, curries, stews, salads – you name it, you can add it!