How Many Vegetables Do you Really Eat?
One of the most common challenges I chat about with clients is how to get more vegetables in to their diets. A recent survey of over 145 000 Australians found that less than one in five of us are eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables each day, with men faring worse than women.1
Vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre and some also contribute carbohydrates to our diets. A serve of vegetables is approximately 75g (half a cup of cooked vegetables, 1 cup of leafy veg, ½ a medium potato) and most healthy adults should be aiming for five serves each day. The Australian Dietary Guidelines include the advice ‘enjoy plenty of vegetables, including different types and colours and legumes/beans every day’.2
That might seem a little overwhelming! Don’t worry, check out my tips for increasing your vegetable intake below and make an appointment with me in Spa to tailor these recommendations to your family.
Tips for Increasing Your Vegetable Intake
- Include veggies in every meal (including breakfast!). Add wilted spinach and sautéed mushrooms to your poached egg, enjoy avocado on toast, make hearty vegetable and legume soups and aim for half your plate to be made up of salad/veg.
- Make veggies a feature of your snacks. Aside from the usual vegetable sticks with dips like hummus, you might try thinly slicing and slow roasting vegetables with a little olive oil to make ‘chips’, mash some leftover sweet potato on a grainy cracker or whip up a batch of mini lentil patties and keep in the freezer.
- If you’re a fan of smoothies and juices, make sure you include veggies! A handful of leafy greens will often go unnoticed when paired with a stronger flavour like orange (and the vitamin C will help you absorb the non-haem iron). Ideally, keep portion sizes of smoothies and juices on the smaller side and try to include the whole fruit/veg (pulp etc) to up the fibre content.
- Try different cooking methods – veggies don’t have to be the soggy, boiled version you might remember from your childhood. Lightly steaming is perfect, or try throwing asparagus, eggplant and capsicum on the BBQ when you next have a steak.
- Initiate meat-free Mondays in your household. My spinach and feta pie recipe is the perfect start!
As always, this is general information and you should make an appointment to discuss specific health concerns.
- Hendrie, G., Noakes, M. (2017). Fruit, Vegetables and Diet Score Report.
- National Health and Medical Research Council. Australian Dietary Guidelines. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2013.
Recipe of the Month
Spinach and Feta Pie
(a healthier twist on the traditional spanakopita)
2 x bunches silverbeet, stalks removed and roughly chopped
1 x large onion, finely diced
1 x zucchini, grated and liquid squeezed out
1 x bunch of mint, finely chopped
2 x cloves garlic, crushed
6 x eggs, lightly beaten
200g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
6 x sheets reduced-fat filo pastry
½ cup Greek style natural yoghurt
Olive oil spray
Combine silverbeet, onion, zucchini, mint, garlic, eggs and feta in a large bowl (I use a big plastic container and my hands to mix).
Pack silverbeet mix into a large rectangular baking dish.
Place two sheets of filo pastry on top and tuck edges in. You need to compress the silverbeet mixture quite firmly and tuck the edges down the side of the dish.
Spread half of the yoghurt over the pastry with a pastry brush, top with two more sheets of pastry and repeat with the other half of the yoghurt.
Top with the final two sheets of pastry, give a light spray with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds. I make a couple of incisions in the pastry before baking in a 180 degree oven for about 45 minutes.
Cut into pieces and serve with a green salad.