If you follow I Spy Plum Pie on facebook or are on my newsletter list then you’ll have probably seen me talking about a bunch of new podcasts I’ve been listening to lately, including Straight & Curly hosted by Carly from Smaggle and Kelly Exeter from A Life Less Frantic. They did an episode recently on eating 5 cups of vegetables a day which got me thinking, so today I’m sharing my favourite easy ways to eat more vegetables. I’d love to hear your tips too!
1. Measure it out
The best way to work out how many vegetables you are eating, and therefore to help know how much more to try and include is to actually measure them out in a cup when you do your cooking. That way you get to visualise what you are actually eating and it might actually be a pleasant surprise for you when you work out how many veggies you’re already eating. Once you have a better idea of how many vegetables you’re currently eating then you can use the rest of these tips to slowly increase it over time. Knowledge is always key!
2. Prep in advance
Buying more veggies is obviously an important step, but they are no good if they don’t actually get eaten! A bit of extra time prepping them when you get home from the shops will help make it more likely that they will actually end up in the meals you had planned, and leaving things like chopped up carrot in the fridge will help you reach for those as a snack more readily as well. Some people just do the washing and cutting in advance, whilst others go right ahead a cook everything for the next few days, so just do whatever works best for you.
3. Leave them visible
Similar to the previous point, buying veggies and then hiding them away in the crisper and forgetting about them isn’t much good either. Out of sight, out of mind is a saying for a reason! This is especially important if you don’t plan on prepping your veggies in advance, so do try and at least wash them and put them in containers that are visible on your fridge shelves so you can’t help but see them when it’s time to get cooking.
4. Add one more
When it comes to cooking a meal ask yourself this simple question – could I add one more vegetable to this? It might be as easy as grating some zucchini into your pasta sauce, adding carrot to a sandwich, throwing some spinach into you risotto or some corn in your Mexican meal. If you can’t add another vegetable then try doubling one of the vegetables already in your meal instead. It’s super simple but it really does help you eat more vegetables every day.
5. Include them at breakfast
Most of us get some veggies in our lunches and dinners, but breakfasts can be lacking (unless we’re doing a big cook-up of course!). It doesn’t have to be that way though, there are lots of breakfast options that can help increase your daily vegetable intake. Smoothies are an obvious option as you can easily through in a cup of greens without it impacting on the flavour but omelettes, frittatas, breakfast burritos and the like are all made better by the addition of vegetables too.
6. Try different ways of cooking them
Much of our aversion to certain veggies often stems from eating them prepared in a way we didn’t enjoy when we were younger (brussel sprouts, I’m looking at you!). Luckily there are countless ways to prepare veggies, you just have to find the way that suits your tastebuds best, and it will likely vary from one vegetable to another. Roasted, steamed, pan-fried, raw, stir-fried – you name it! Experiment a little, they might not all be a success but that’s part of the fun!
7. Get dip happy
Dips are excellent ways to eat more vegetables for two reasons, firstly you can use lots of kinds of veggies to eat the dip and you can jam lots of veggies in the dips too! Leave the crackers and bread behind and go for sliced carrot, cucumber, capsicum or celery and you’ll find yourself easily adding another cup of veggies to your day. Some of my favourite dips made with, or including, vegetables include baba ghanoush, carrot hummus, sundried tomato & ricotta and red pepper hummus, and they are all super simple to whip up at home as well.
8. Add a side salad
There are very few meals that wouldn’t go well with a simple side salad, so a great way to eat more vegetables is to just whip up one every night as part of your dinner. It doesn’t need to be anything more than a pile of leafy greens with whatever other veggies you have on hand – cherry tomatoes, sliced capsicum, carrots, cucumber, it all works. Drizzle it with a basic vinaigrette and away you go! It works alongside pasta, pizza, roast, tacos, pretty much anything (except maybe a stir-fry, but they tend to be full of veggies anyway!).
9. Try Meatless Monday
One way to ensure you get more veggies on your plate is by taking part in Meatless Monday! Having one day a week that you don’t eat meat is a great way to up your vegetable intake while exploring a whole host of new recipes at the same time. Making vegetables the star of your meal, rather than relegating them to a supporting role, can also help you discover new ways of preparing them and new flavour combinations too. It’s not hard either, I promise!
10. Don’t forget the flavour
One thing we can forget to do when it comes to eating vegetables is adding flavour! Spices really are your friend and can turn a simple dish into something spectacular, including veggies! A sprinkling of cumin before you pop pumpkin in to roast, some garlic with your steamed greens, a little addition can make a world of difference. If you’re really struggling to add veggies to your diet then there’s always the good ol’ cheesy-cauliflower option, it might not be the healthiest but it’s better than nothing!