By Tanya Jones – Naturopath
We all know how important it is to eat our vegetables. But for some people it feels like a punishment or grueling event. It’s much easier and more pleasurable to eat the processed, sugary foods……of course!
Though it is only so long before we get to an age that the sugar catches up with us causing weight gain that won’t be shifted, cardiovascular conditions (our number one killer), type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, a weakened immune system and even cancer. It gets to a point when we really need to make some positive changes.
Did you know that less than 30% of people actually eat the dietary recommendations of 3 cups of vegetables per day? And did you know that for optimal health, 3 cups of vegetables fall short in providing the nutrients we need for our body to cope with our busy, stressful lives? So really whether you like your vegetables or not, we need to eat them, and we need to eat more of them!
When working with clients to improve our dietary habits, focusing on the positive can provide much more successful results. By working with small achievable steps, we can build better habits that will last us a lifetime. Let’s face it, how well it go when we put ourselves through the last restrictive, deprivation diet?
Are you someone who is constantly reaching for sweet things? Junk food? Savoury snacks? Well it’s time to take on my technique to squash out the poor foods by crowding your day with nourishing goodness. By focusing your mind on all the healthy foods you need in order to get our nutritional requirements we can make it difficult to find time or fit in the foods we are constantly trying to resist.
So, I challenge you to UP your Veg! And here are some delish ways to do it!
VEG FOR BREAKFAST!
We have 3 meals and 2-3 snacks per day, yet some people only eat their vegetables at dinner time. I don’t know about you but trying to eat 3 or more cups of vegetables in one meal might be a little uncomfortable. So, spread your veg through the day and start with breakfast.
Replace the high carb toast or cereal which is lacking in nutrients and most likely filled with sugar and chemicals. Instead cook up a veggie filled frittata on the weekend and have portions ready to grab, heat and eat.
SNACK ON THEM
Sure, we can have the vegetable sticks to nibble on for a snack, though for many this is not very appetising. How about some roasted Sweet potato chips served with a dollop of hummus? Now we are talking!
By adding some easy products found at the supermarket or health food store you can actually increase the nutritional punch of those vegetables whilst enhancing the flavour. Herbamare is a seasoned salt which contains herbs and plants including garlic, basil, parsley, chives, thyme, celery, onion, marjoram, cress, rosemary, leek and kelp.
Savoury Yeast Flakes are a deactivated yeast that looks like fine yellow flakes/powder. Sprinkled on roast vegetables, soups, casseroles they provide a mild salty flavour and are a great cheese replacement. They contain B vitamins for energy and healthy mood, and 9 essential amino acids that we have to get from foods and are a great source of protein.
Dulse flakes are a dried red seaweed flake. They can be sprinkled on all vegetables and salads to add flavour along with iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
CARE FOR THEM
This may seem odd, though we need to cook our vegetables with love and not kill the nutrients or drain them of taste. A fast cook for a stir-fry, a slow gentle roast or steaming will help keep those flavours. Avoid boiling vegetables as it takes all the goodness and yumminess away.
HIDE & ADD THEM
Bulk out any meal with extra vegetables. Making a Beef Stroganoff? Finely dice some zucchini up and cook it with the meat. Making a curry? Dice up some pumpkin / sweet potato and cook in the sauce with the protein. Making Chicken Nuggets? Blend up the chicken thigh, carrots and zucchini before shaping and rolling in crumbs. Having spaghetti bolognaise? Serve it on steamed broccolini, a roasted sweet potato or spiralized zucchini noodles rather than pasta. So many ideas!
ADD BUTTER AND SALT
Using a quality pasture raised butter and Himalayan salt can compliment any vegetable group. And before you ask, good quality butter or fats are not going to increase your cholesterol or make you fat. Many of the nutrients in the vegetables are actually ‘fat soluble’, which means they need fat to be absorbed into the body.
COOK TOO MANY
Often when people are trying to eat healthier and they empty their cupboard and fridge of the convenient processed foods, they get caught out with nothing prepared to eat when hungry. A simple key is to always have leftover vegetables from dinners available. Add them to a spruce up a salad, eat them to some protein for lunch or serve with a dip as a snack.
When we make a smoothie it’s easy to use lots of yummy fruit like bananas and berries, they taste great, though too much fruit can not be so good for us. Keep your smoothies mostly to 1 fruit and then add in a zucchini or a cucumber with spinach. These vegetables don’t have a strong flavour to overpower your smoothie, it gets your veg intake up and keeps the sugar levels down.