Vegetables are an integral part of a balanced diet however we know most Australian’s struggle to get their 5 a day (or two and a half cups). Veggies provide a range of vitamins (like A, B’s, C , E etc), antioxidants, minerals important fr a strong immune system as well as fibres which encourages good gut flora and in turn further strengthens our immune system.
Here are some tips to get your veggie intake higher
Aim for half a plate or at least 3 different types in 2 meals every day will get you there.
Use different varieties within the same species, cut up in different shapes and cook in different ways for interest.
Cook extra for leftovers the next day and simply reheat and add to your meal.
Use fresh, frozen and canned vegetables as there is little difference in nutritional benefits if the alternative is to go without.
Have veggies for snacks such as corn on the cob, roasted chickpeas or legumes.
Start gardening to increase the availability, reduce the cost as well as wastage.
Easy to grow vegetables are shallot, lettuce, silverbeet/spinach, beans including snow peas and sugar snap peas, capsicum, tomato, rocket, cucumber, zucchini.
Ensure to have some herbs, marigolds and nasturtiums, remember to water and fertilize, and you will have an ecologically balanced, nourished and healthy garden.
Here are some tips to revitalise your vegetable intake throughout your day:
Toppings on Toast
Tomato (raw or grilled), mushrooms, spinach, leek, capsicum, zucchini, asparagus, baked beans, creamed corn, hummus or vegetable dip.
Cooked potato, sweet potato, pumpkin as the base, add egg mixture and sprinkle peas, corn, capsicum, shallot, herbs then top with spinach.
What’s in the wok in order of addition -onion, carrot, choko, zucchini, mushroom, capsicum, green beans, snow peas, fennel, asparagus, celery then the last couple of minutes add cabbage (green, red, wombok), sprouts, shallot, Asian greens, spinach.
A great way to lock in those nutrients. In order of addition: potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, turnip, swede, beetroot, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, peas, corn, beans, cabbage, Asian greens, spinach.
Save time and washing up by cooking all your veggies in the oven. Starchy vegies include potato, sweet potato, pumpkin, parsnip, beetroot, swede, turnip. Non-starchy for half your plate include: carrot, choko, eggplant, zucchini, squash, mushroom, capsicum, fennel, celery, onion, leek, cabbage steaks.
Sticks and Dips for parties or a snack
Hummus: blend up chickpeas with a splash of water, dash of oil pinch of salt and herbs/spices or nuts for interest. Mix it up by using other legumes like red lentils or butter beans or add some pumpkin, beetroot or sweet potato.
Cucumber or Beetroot Tzatziki: chop up cucumber or cooked beetroot in 0.5cm cubes, mix through a couple of dollops of natural yoghurt.
Again use more than the usual carrot, celery, cucumber. Try green beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli and cauliflower florets or stalks, capsicum (red, green, yellow), cos lettuce (small leaves), halved cherry tomatoes. Nut butters or seed pastes are great with these too!
Use more than just lettuce, tomato and cucumber, there is a rainbow of mixed salad leaves like baby beetroot, rocket, carrot (grated/ sliced) beetroot (grated raw/ cooked sliced), green beans, snow peas, sprouts, bean shoots, celery, capsicum, corn, cabbage (red, green, wombok), bok choy, avocado, onion, shallot, olives, artichoke, blanched asparagus, fresh herbs, edible flowers, left over roast vegetables.
Make leftovers go further
Bulk up leftovers meals when reheating microwave meals by adding finely sliced cabbage, greens, green beans or frozen peas and corn to the plate/bowl. They will be cooked whilst the rest of the meal is being re-heated.
Enjoy your rainbow of colour, get creative and stay as strong as possible with the power of vegetables!