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Let’s be honest, sometimes eating our veggies is hard. We’re constantly on the go, they take time to prepare and they don’t have a long shelf life in the fridge. But what if we told you about some sneaky ways you can increase your vegetable intake so you’re getting more goodness with every spoonful?
1. Add some extra nutrients to your morning smoothie
Smoothies are pretty quick to make, easy to consume on the go and with the right ingredients they can be very good for you. I love to make my smoothies the night before and keep them in the fridge, that way it’s one less thing to do in the morning when you’re in a rush.
Some of the best vegetables to compliment your smoothie include; spinach, kale, chard, avocado, beetroot and vegetable purees. A juicer is great, but I prefer a smoothie because it includes all of the vegetable including the wonderful fibre from the skin and flesh.
The trick with a smoothie is to be a bit mindful of what you put in them. It can be easy to drink a lot more than you would eat. If you wouldn’t eat a whole mango, banana, cup of milk and tablespoon of honey for breakfast, you probably don’t need to put it in the smoothie as it will probably have more calories than you need.
2. Make your toast fancy (and topped with veg!)
We all think of toast as a breakfast option, but with savoury toppings toast can be suited to any time of the day for a snack or lunch option. Choose a good quality multigrain or wholemeal toast to get the good stuff and load it with your favourite vegetables.
We all know avocado on toast is delicious and eggs on toast is a standard, but what about sautéed mushrooms, sweet juicy tomatoes, crisp cucumber all on top of a smear of ricotta. You won’t need to snack before lunch with those combinations.
Toast doesn’t keep too well though, so this suggestion works much better when you have time to prep and eat straight away.
3. Make them the star of your fave pasta dish
We know not everyone wants (or can have) a big bowl of carbs for dinner, this is why I love veggie noodles!
But you can still enjoy some of the carbs and bulk up your pasta meal with ribbons of carrot and zucchini. Not only can you eat more (if you’re extra hungry) and feel good about it, but it won't make you as bloated and heavy as pasta often does. Pair with a homemade (vegetable packed) sauce with grilled tomatoes, herbs, spinach and ricotta.
It’s a great lunch option too as these meals easily keep in the fridge or can be frozen.
4. Grate into muffins and cakes
Muffins don’t normally resonate ‘healthy’ but when you pack them with vegetables, they add a little more goodness to your day.
Another great breakfast option, snack or to accompany your lunch, they will even be suitable for children's lunch boxes and can be a great solution for hiding vegetables into their meals if you have a picky eater.
We love some of the classics like zucchini slice or adding roasted vegetables, carrot and spinach to a muffin mix. One baking tip for cooking with veggies when using wet vegetables like zucchini is to grate them, then squeeze out all the excess moisture. This way you ensure you don’t have a soggy mix!
5. Make them into hearty soups
One of the simplest ways to add vegetables into your diet, the more you pack in, the tastier they get!
Peas, pumpkin and potato all puree up well and add a creaminess, without all the cream. Otherwise a chunky vegetable soup is the perfect way to clean out your fridge at the end of the week before your next shop (and that’s the weeks lunches sorted too!)
Like smoothies, it’s important to be mindful of what you put in. Adding cheeses and cream, croutons and having a loaf of crispy bread with your soup will quickly make it a high calorie meal.
6. Bulk out your rice dishes with veg!
Many of us eat rice, it’s an easily digestible carb, easy to make in bulk and fairly plain in taste. But it can be repetitive too and keeping things exciting and interesting is a good way to help you stay on track.
Add finely diced vegetables like carrot, capsicum, corn, beans and broccoli heads to your rice for some bulking up. For a lower carb-based option, replacing half the rice with ‘cauliflower rice’ is a great choice (the same concept as our pasta suggestion).
Simply blend your cauliflower heads in a processor until fine and crumbly, then add to your pan and sauté to soften. Remove and cook all your vegetables before adding back to the pan with your rice, season well.
7. Bake as delicious veggie chips
Nothing pairs better with a burger or fish than a side of chips. But chips are typically deep fried and not good for you.
You can easily whip up your own potato or sweet potato chips and have control on how much oil used (spray is a good option to keep the fats lower). I also love crumbing some avocado, zucchini and carrot for some tasty and nutritious chip alternatives. Pile up with homemade cabbage slaw, avocado, corn and tomato salsa.
To crumb, dip your veggies into some flour, then into a whisked egg and then into your crumb mix (breadcrumbs and spices). If making your own breadcrumbs just be sure to use stale bread. Voila, tasty chips!
8. Enjoy flavoursome roasted veggies
Baking is one of the healthiest options because of the little amount of fats and oils that need to be added and even better, vegetables love it! Adding another element of flavour can be achieved by stuffing vegetables like capsicums (with the rice mix we mentioned earlier) and baking them until tender. Easy, tasty, and another option to include a variety of veggies (and a whole lot of flavour).
9. Snack on low calorie dips and veggie sticks
A go to option for gatherings are often dips paired with crackers. The trouble with these is the setting often makes for over consumption in a grazing manner. Vegetable sticks like carrot and celery are great options over crackers and mean a few extras won’t break all the good work.
Dip choices is also worth consideration as many can be full of creams and nuts which are both calorie dense. Opt for those based with vegetables. We love homemade hummus, beetroot dip, sweet potato carrot and pine nuts, spinach and ricotta. Use a greek yogurt or ricotta for a creamy base and a simple at home blender should do the trick.
Vegetables are packed with goodness from fibre, vitamins and minerals and offer benefits such as maintaining fullness and promoting immunity and recovery. You’ll reap the benefits of just adding a few more veggies to your diet, and by making them exciting and tasty it’s likely you won’t even notice they are there.
Oh, and by eating the rainbow of vegetables you’ll be consuming a spectrum of vitamins and minerals to help maintain a balanced, and healthy diet. Yay!