Like knowing we need more sleep, we all know we should ‘Eat Our Greens’ or rather a rainbow of different vegetables. I love this cheeky quotation!
Recently the UK government was urged to increase the recommended portions of fruit and veg from 5 to 7 days a day. At the moment their guidance doesn’t distinguish between fruit and veg and also has some rather interesting definitions of what counts!
In my humble opinion, I believe in:
– prioritising veg over fruit. Fruit is good for us, to a point, but comes with quite a lot of sugar. The Australian guidelines recommend 5 portions of veg and 2 portions of fruit a day which to me seems more sensible
– not counting fruit juice, as once you remove the fibre from fruit the sugar is even more concentrated. Plus if I’m drinking calories I prefer to save it for wine 😉
– not counting pulses or lentils
– making sure a high proportion of my diet comes from veg and fruit
– eating a wide variety so only one portion of each ‘counts’ towards the target each day
Regardless of what we are advised I think we all need to make our own decisions on what to eat. Guidelines are great, to a point, but they can take responsibility away from us to do the research and make a decision. Let’s face it our bodies don’t care about government definitions, cancer doesn’t care! We all need to take responsibility for our bodies.
On that rallying speech 😉 how the hell do we get more veg in our diets?
I eat around 9-10 portions of vegetables a day plus 2-3 portions of fruit. The veg tends to be 1-2 portions for my snack and the rest spread roughly evenly between my three meals.
This might sound like a lot but here are some sneaky ways I do it:
- put chopped veggies in my omelette or scrambled eggs (pepper, tomatoes, spinach, kale, mushrooms, courgette/zucchini, spring onion/scallions and kale all work well)
- make a BIG salad and think beyond the obvious to make it more interested (roasted veg, grilled asparagus, steamed green beans, sun dried tomatoes)
- have a box of read to eat veg in the fridge at eye height and maybe a dip so you can nibble when at a loose end or whilst cooking (little tomatoes, radish, mange tout or cucumber/pepper/celery/carrot sticks)
- make a BIG soup (or two) at the beginning of each week as part of a quick lunch or before dinner. For a super simple soup take your favourite veg (frozen is fine) and cook it in some chicken or veg stock. Season and blend.
- put a HUGE handful of spinach in any protein shake or smoothie. It might be a slightly odd colour but doesn’t taste strongly.
- make a green smoothie like my Green Goddess. I promise it’s worth a try!
- make BIG stir fries, minimise or eliminate the noodles or rice and go for tons of veg
- when making a tomato sauce add extra veg. Onion, garlic, carrot, celery, spinach, peppers and spinach can all be added and blend in well with a hand blender if you want a smooth texture
- when eating out swap the chips or potatoes for extra veg or salad
- roast a load of vegetables and keep them in the fridge to throw onto salads or have as part of a dinner. It really brings out their sweetness
- use lettuce, cabbage or vine leaves as wraps instead of the bread alternative (the inside is the good bit so you hardly notice the missing bread plus the crutch adds texture!)
- chop a big salad or grate some of the veg (raw courgette/zucchini is great) to make it easier to eat
- adding a little cheese, bacon or dressing makes everything taste good and helps big salads go down!
- dressings can also be used for cooked veg and bacon works wonderfully with brussels, savoy cabbage and kale
- herbs taste great and add valuable nutrients of their own. I chop them and add liberally to salads, dressings, soups and more.
- try different ways of cooking – for example roasted carrots with cumin and feta, roasted tomatoes with sumac or grilled spring onions.
- if you’re on a budget frozen veg is a great option. It is full of nutrients, cheaper and super convenient plus it won’t go off in the bottom of your fridge! I always have frozen spinach, green beans and peas in.
A few tools I love are:
A peeler to make strips of veg for salads or stir fries
A tool to make spiral ‘noodles’ from veg
An OXO salad bowl for chopped salads
A grated for grated salads
What other tricks do you have? Let me know below.