Creative ways to eat more vegetables
When the weather cools and we go into hibernation, there’s something magical about creating and consuming foods that comfort the soul.
Accredited Practising Dietitian and My health for life health coach Sarah Muller reminds us of the importance of also upping our vegetable intake.
“Based on 2018 food-consumption data, only 7.5 per cent of Australians aged 18 years and over met the dietary guideline for vegetable intake,” says Sarah.
“Vegetables are not only low kilojoule, but a great source of fibre, vitamin C, and folate.
“A good rule of thumb is to ensure two meals per day adopt the ideal plate portions and include vegetables in your snacks.”
Here are Sarah’s top-10 tips for bumping up your vegetable intake:
- Balance out breakfast with grilled mushrooms, tomato, wilted baby spinach, and char-grilled asparagus to accompany your eggs on toast.
- Have a mug of your favourite vegetable or legume-based soup to warm you up for a low-kilojoule snack. Try soup for main course with a slice of wholegrain bread. Suggest to a colleague or friend to have a “soup exchange” where you swap half of your soup with each other so you have variety in your freezer.
- Bulk up your slow-cooked meals by adding in extra vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, potatoes, onions, celery, mushrooms, zucchini, and parsnips. Don’t forget to “balance your plate”. You may need to add some extra steamed, green vegetables when serving slow-cooked meals to keep your winter meals more balanced and kilojoule friendly. Think steamed broccolini, cauliflower, snow peas, and beans.
- Char-grilled asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms, onion, and capsicum are great with grilled salmon, pork, beef, or lamb.
- One-tray roast-vegetable medleys are a great way to top up your veggie intake. Think roast beetroot, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, onion, carrot, parsnips, capsicum, and pumpkin. Sprinkle with extra-virgin olive oil and your favourite dukkha, mixed herbs, or lemon and garlic for extra flavour.
- Frozen individual bags of vegetables are a great back up to add to that left over slow-cooked meal that isn’t quite enough for a meal on its own.
- Lentil dishes—such as dhal or vegetarian curry based on a variety of legumes—are a great low-calorie way to keep hearty winter dishes lower kilojoule.
- Left over roast vegetables can add a nice twist to your salad the next day. Think roast pumpkin or roast sweet potato, pecans, and baby-spinach salad; or roast potato, rocket, and parmesan salad with balsamic glaze.
- Top up lasagne or bolognaise with extra vegetables and legumes like lentils, cannellini beans, canned tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, carrot, zucchini, olives, celery, and capsicum.
- Remember to balance your plate. Aim for ½ your plate with free vegetables like green leafy veg, capsicum, mushrooms, or salad etc; ¼ with lean meats, fish, legumes, or eggs; and ¼ with low-GI carbohydrates (wholegrain pasta, Basmati rice, potato, sweet potato, or corn).
Sarah says we can also get creative with fruit desserts when things get a bit frosty.
“Fruit intake can drop off in winter. Try preparing fruits differently to make them more appealing in the cooler weather. Think poached pears or apples with Greek natural yoghurt and a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon.
“You can char grill bananas, mango cheeks, peaches, or pears. Berry season is kicking off again, so experiment with pear or apple and berry crumbles made with rolled oats, cinnamon, and a small amount of olive spread and brown sugar.”