We all know that eating vegetables is good for us. Parents up and down the country have been encouraging their children to "'eat your greens" for centuries for good reason!
- People who eat more vegetables are likely to have a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and certain types of cancers.
- Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body, such as vitamins A and C, fibre, and potassium.
- You've heard of your 5 a day, but now the advice is to eat as much as 30 DIFFERENT plant foods (fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, pulses etc) a week. The more variety, or 'rainbow' the better the gut microbiota. I know it's the latest nutritional fad, but many studies show that health is the key to a better immune system, a healthy weight and improved mental health.
- Vegetables are high in fibre. Current recommendations are to eat 30g of fibre a day and actually, as a nation we eat around half that. Fibre helps us feel fuller for longer and keeps our digestive system healthy.
But who wants to drink kale smoothies?! Try these 5 top tips to help you get more vegetables into your diet:
1. Go Savoury For Breakfast
Savoury breakfast is a game-changer in my opinion. You can make it quick, delicious and it's a great strategy to reduce your daily sugar consumption. Try tomatoes or mushrooms on toast, smash an avocado to accompany a poached egg, or make a spinach and bacon frittata.
I remain convinced that a savoury breakfast keeps you going for longer too, so you're less likely to snack your way through the morning. My father used to make breakfast for us every morning as kids. I feel so lucky about this; coming downstairs to the table beautifully laid, a cup of tea, and a different cooked breakfast every morning. He is now 88, and still does this for my mother, bless...Perhaps this is the key to a long life!
2. Roast Your Veggies In The Oven
Vegetables roasted and caramelised in the oven are one of life's great pleasures. Try chopped peppers, aubergines, courgettes and tomatoes or parsnips, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, add a couple of whole garlic cloves, a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, plenty of salt and pepper, perhaps a sprinkling of ground cumin or coriander and roast at 180 C until soft and slightly caramelised.
Try this recipe for starters...
3. Cook Up A Stir Fry
Yes, get out your chopsticks and dig in to a delicious stir fry. All you need to do is chop up a variety of veg and fry quickly in a little sesame oil. Add some noodles, grated ginger, soy sauce, coriander, roasted peanuts, chicken or prawns - basically whatever you fancy or what's in the fridge - and you have a very quick and healthy midweek supper that everyone will LOVE!
Here's a nice dressing for your stir fry:
Mix together 1 tbsp each sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and a splash of Thai fish sauce and lime juice. Pour over your stir fry towards the end of cooking.
4. Make A Delicious Soup
Vegetable soups don't have to be boring! Check out some of my souper soup recipes; all packed with delicious veggies.
5. Vegetables In A Pancake!
I'm a huge fan of savoury pancakes; my favourite has to be spinach and mushrooms (even better with some bacon lardons) - recipe HERE, or try my new mix-at-home pancake mix, which is nutritionally enriched with buckwheat, oat and golden flaxseed, making it high in iron and B Vitamins too.