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Easy ways to eat more vegetables

Eating a diet that’s full of fresh, colourful fruits and vegetables is the best way to make sure that your body has all the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and well. According to The Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults and children over the age of eight should be eating at least five servings of vegetables a day - but what does a serving actually look like? Usually, it’s about 75 grams, but it can depend on the vegetable.

Here are some examples:

● Half a cup of sweet corn

● 1 cup of leafy greens or raw salad vegetables

● Half of a medium potato or sweet potato

● 1 medium tomato

● Half a cup of cooked broccoli, spinach, carrot, or pumpkin

That might sound well and good, but fitting in five vegetable serves over the course of the day can be challenging for some people - particularly those who don’t enjoy the taste or texture of vegetables.

Here are a few tips and tricks for squeezing in your five a day:

Start with a salad

Starting your lunch or dinner (or both) with a small salad is a great way to increase your overall vegetable consumption. A bit like exercising in the early morning, it’s a good way to ‘get it out of the way’ and move on to more enjoyable parts of the meal. If you struggle with portion control, it can also help you to full fuller before you get to your main meal, so you’re less likely to overeat.

Snack on fresh vegetables

Many people struggle with the taste, texture or smell of cooked vegetables, and prefer the crunch and freshness of fresh veggies. Snacking on raw vegetables is healthy and delicious, and often very straightforward to prepare. Spend some time chopping carrot, celery, and cucumber into sticks or rounds and eat them straight, or pair them with a healthy dip for added flavour.

Hide your veggies

Eating vegetables doesn’t have to be boring - consider it an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen! There are lots of ways you can incorporate vegetables into recipes without affecting the flavour - or even know that they’re there. You can mix them into sweet dishes, for example chocolate and beetroot muffins or zucchini chocolate cake. You can even sneak them in at breakfast by blending them into a fruit smoothie or adding some pumpkin puree or grated carrot into hot porridge. When making recipes that use noodles or pasta, try adding in some spiralized zucchini, carrot or pumpkin noodles - often they can hardly be detected, especially when you add a sauce.

Try some new recipes

Some people say that they don’t like a particular vegetable when they’ve only experienced it in a certain way. For example, Brussels sprouts that have been boiled can be slimy and tasteless, but bake them with some coconut oil and a bit of salt and they are delicious. Experiment with different seasonings and methods of cooking to find a way you like. Instead of sautéeing or boiling, why not try grilling or steaming to retain a bit of crunch and flavour, provided they’re not overcooked. Similarly, baking vegetables can add some crispiness and help to bring out the natural sweetness of many vegetables. If you’re not sure where to start, have a look through some cookbooks or browse recipes on the internet.

Use frozen vegetables

For some people, not eating vegetables simply comes down to convenience: they don’t have the time to spend shopping, chopping and preparing vegetables. When it comes to convenience, frozen veggies are hard to beat. They’re easy to grab from the freezer section of the supermarket, they’re pre-chopped, which can save lots of time in the kitchen, and they still have plenty of nutrients - sometimes even more than fresh produce.

With a few simple swaps and just a touch of creativity, you’ll be reaching your five-a-day in no time.

You may also be interested in the following:

5 healthy recipes for the whole family
A smoothie bowl recipe for healthy skin
How to stay healthy on a budget

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