By Hollie Harris
Are you eating enough vegetables? If you answered “no“, you’re not alone.
As many as 93 per cent of Queensland adults are not eating the recommended five servings a day.
Each year National Nutrition Week (15-21 October) raises awareness around the role of food on our health and the theme for 2017 is Try For 5 – a campaign developed by Nutrition Australia that encourages people to increase their vegetable consumption to the recommended intake.
Vegetables are packed full of important vitamins and minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and gut-healthy fibre.
A serve of vegetables could be one cup of raw salad vegetables or half a cup of cooked pumpkin.
Eating five serves each day can help you to maintain a healthy weight and protect you against chronic diseases, including some cancers.
To help you add more delicious produce into your day, here are five tips:
1. Boost your breakfast. Get your first serves in early by adding one or two vegetables to your breakfast. Spinach, onions, mushrooms and grated zucchini all make great additions to omelettes and savoury muffins; they can also act as the perfect sauted side dish for eggs on toast.
2. Drink a serve. Swap store-bought fruit juice, which is often packed full of sugar and stripped of fibre, for a juice made primarily from vegetables. Try carrot, celery, beetroot and ginger juice, or add kale and spinach to your morning smoothie.
3. Stuff them into sandwiches. Take your basic lean meat sandwich and jazz it up with cucumber, tomato, sprouts, and spinach. You can also swap bread slices and wraps for lettuce leaves – try filling them with tuna or chicken salad, a stir fry or even a burger.
4. Snack on them. By substituting raw vegetables for crackers when you get the afternoon munchies, not only will you add to your daily vegetable serve, but you’ll be less likely to over-eat at dinner. Crunchy crudites take on a whole new life when dipped in nutty hummus, fiery salsa or creamy avocado.
5. Be a sneaky chef. Shred vegetables down, or puree them up and see how creative you can get with your favourite recipes. You can stir extra into casseroles or pies, or add puree into soups and sauces. Grated zucchini and carrots do wonders for turkey burgers and meatballs, adding both moisture and nutrients. Spiralised sweet potatoes, carrots and zucchinis can be swapped for pasta, while cauliflower can be used as a rice substitute.
At least one third of all cancer cases are preventable through healthy lifestyle choices, including eating a healthy diet, so it’s imperative that we begin to turn our vegetable statistics around.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be a top priority – let’s Try For 5, not only during National Nutrition Week, but every day.