It’s no secret that fruit and vegetables are an essential part of our diets. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients and contain water to help keep you hydrated. They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which helps to maintain a healthy gut, prevents constipation and other digestion problems. A diet high in fibre can also reduce your risk of bowel cancer, which is a huge killer in the Western world.
Evidence shows there are significant health benefits to getting at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day (1x serving = 1x hand full).
If you know you need to increase your fruit and vegetable intake, here are some easy tips to help you do this.
Combine milk or water, banana, spinach and cacao powder to make a delicious chocolate smoothie. By adding spinach to the smoothie, you will increase the vegetable intake and the smoothie will not change to a green colour thanks to the cacao, meaning fussy children will be tricked into thinking they are having a chocolate smoothie.
Choose a base, 1x fruit, 2x vegetables, nuts/seeds
Base: coconut water, water, milk (cows milk, almond, coconut, soy)
Fruit: Frozen banana, apple, avocado, kiwifruit, pineapple, blueberries, strawberry, orange, lemon
Vegetables: spinach, cos lettuce, kale, silverbeet
Nuts/Seeds: cashews, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, flaxseed, brazil nut
Extras: cacao powder, dessicated coconut, maca powder, ice.
Add vegetables to your omelet or eggs at breakfast time. This is such an easy way to increase your vegetable intake and a good way to start the day. Add spinach, kale, mushrooms, capsicum, tomato’s or onions to bulk up your morning meal.
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
If you are making pasta, casseroles, lasagna, soups or a sandwich, double the amount of vegetables that you would usually add in. You are already doing the prep, so a little extra chopping can go a long way for your vege intake. We love making kumara nachos by swapping the classic corn chip to kumara to help increase vegetable intake, and cut out grains and dairy.
Make vegetable chips or fries. Try our recipe for Carrot and Parsnip Fries, these oven baked Parsnip Fries are a quick and easy side dish and a great change to the traditional potato fry. We also love snacking on kale chips, which are a great way to get more greens into your diet.
Start “Meat Free Monday”, this is a day when you cut animal protein out of your diet for every Monday of the week. It’s a great way to eat more fruit and vegetables and cut down on meat consumption, and explore plant based protein options. Try our vegetarian burger recipe which uses chickpeas and lentils as the pattie instead of beef or chicken.
Keep fruit at your desk at work or in your handbag. If you are feeling peckish, opt for a piece of fruit over a sugary snack. I really like snacking on raw vegetables such as carrots and celery and using a delicious high protein dip such as hummus to make them a bit more exciting. Buy in season as this is always a cheaper way to eat.
Look for a local farmers market close to where you live and buy all your fresh fruit and vegetables there. It’s a fun way to get the whole family involved, you are supporting local farmers, buying what’s in season and it’s generally cheaper than the supermarket.
5+ A DAY
Check out the 5+ a day website for recipes and to find out what fruit and vegetables are in season. 5+ A Day regularly update their website so you can find new recipes to try out.
EAT TO THE SEASONS
Buy in season! When you buy fresh, seasonal produce, you get more bang for your buck. Local seasonal fruits and vegetables are usually in abundance and don’t have to be transported as far, so they are cheaper, last longer and have higher nutrient contents.
FROZEN IS ALSO GREAT!
Another alternative to fresh fruit and vegetables is buying canned or frozen fruit and vegetables because they don’t go off. They are usually picked and packed at their peak maintaining their nutrients for a longer period. Avoid the canned and frozen produce that contain added sugars and oils.
STOCK UP THE BOWL
Keep a fruit bowl on the dining room table and aim to have this full of fresh fruit, it makes a healthy and quick snack instead of reaching for a packet or chips. Slice up some apple and spread with peanut butter or make a fruit salad with Greek yoghurt.
If you enjoy ice cream, make your own blackberry nice cream and chocolate chip ice cream using bananas and berries as a base instead of cream and sugar. That way you cut out the processed ingredients and get a serving or 2 of fruit.
Pre-cut fruit and vegetables and keep them in the fridge in snap lock bags, if you are feeling peckish or you are in a rush to get out of the house, you can grab one of these to snack on and it saves peeling/cutting.
If you are having a BBQ, make vegetable skewers to serve along side your meat dish.
Make your own vegetable “zoodles”. Zucchini noodles or ‘zoodles’ are a nutritious base to have for many meal options and are a low carb, healthier alternative to pasta. Here is a recipe for Zucchini Pasta with avocado pesto.
What are some ways you get extra fruit and vegetables into your diet? Share below! Lx