January is the time of year when I can probably predict, without going anywhere near a computer or a news stand, the kinds of magazine cover lines and online headlines that start to appear. You know the ones I’m talking about: “Celebrity X: How she got her beach body back”; “Lose 10kg in 2 weeks: Follow our easy plan”; “New Year detox! Lose weight and feel better”. They’re the same kind of stories dressed up in new clothes every year and, frankly, they’re getting really boring.
So, I’m not going anywhere near the idea of New Year’s re-sets, resolutions, detoxes, or diets. Instead, I’m going to talk about something actually achievable. And that is ‘how to get more plants into our lives’. No matter what we believe about the best way to eat, we can all agree eating lots of vegetables is a key to health.
The idea of ‘five plus a day’ fruit and veges is a bare minimum, five plus veges a day, and then fruit on top of that, would be even better. And the good thing is, achieving this is not necessarily difficult or expensive. Here are five simple ways to get more veges:
- Start with a salad
One way we can copy US eating habits (in a good way) is to start our meals with a salad. It’s a guaranteed way to get at least one or two servings of veges in. Remember, a salad doesn’t have to be a boring plate of leaves. Think crunchy chopped vegetables of all stripes and add a few nuts, seeds or other crunchy additions and a tasty dressing.
- Boost your breakfast
You’ll get a head start to your daily vege serves if you can get some vegetables into your breakfast. Think avocado and tomato on your toast, spinach and broccoli with your eggs or in an omelette or even carrot in your smoothie. Try this carrot cake smoothie bowl.
- Deconstruct your sandwich
It’s hard to get a sandwich to contain even one serving of veges, given the limitation of having to fit between two slices of bread. But deconstruct that sandwich – toast the bread and make croutons, add lots of extra leafy and crunchy veges – and you can get heaps more vegetables in and have a tastier lunch to boot. Make sure you include good amounts of protein to make a satisfying meal.
- Snack on soup
Make great use of your veges and have a more satisfying snack by making tasty soups. Go for simple purées or try chunky soups with lentils, beans or chickpeas. Keep them in the fridge and enjoy as an afternoon snack when you’d otherwise reach for chips or chocolate. This is a really good way to use up leftovers, too.
- Substitute with veges
Veges can come into play as substitutes for other meal components and snacks. Instead of reaching for crackers or chips, try dipping with vege crudités. Crunchy lettuce leaves are a light swap for wraps. Try a cauliflower crust instead of dough for your pizza. Or have a go with kumara, pumpkin or courgette ‘noodles’ in among, or instead of, regular noodles or pasta.