Vegetables provide so much nutritious goodness for us that they should feature much more frequently as the main event of a meal rather than just a side dish.
Eating a more plant-based diet is great for our overall health, so get peeling and chopping and reap the benefits!
This Veg Pledge month, Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some great ideas for including more vegetables in your daily diet.
We often think of smoothies as only being fruit-based but they can taste equally delicious by including more vegetables than fruit. Whilst you’ll lose most of the fibre from the vegetables by blending a smoothie, you can add extra fibre in the form of flaxseeds which are also rich in the healthy omega-3 fats.
Whilst the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables is five portions (and currently only 27% of the population achieve this) optimal health can be achieved by aiming for closer to ten portions. However, it is quite difficult to eat this amount, hence smoothies are the perfect answer.
For a tasty green smoothie, blend cucumber, carrot, celery, ¼ avocado, spinach plus some apple and banana for sweetness, together with unsweetened almond milk (or soya if preferred). You can change the taste (and colour) by using berries rather than apple. The perfect start to the day!
All vegetables and fruits are rich in immune-boosting vitamin C, essential through the winter months. Plus, vegetables are loaded with varied carotenoids. Some of these are turned into vitamin A in the body as needed, but they also serve as powerful antioxidants, further protecting the immune system and holding back the ageing process.
Make warming soup
Another perfect and very easy way of increasing your vegetable intake is by making soups. As with smoothies, there are no end of variations. However, if you want to create something more filling, perhaps for lunch, then it’s great to add some protein in the form of beans or lentils (colours and varieties of your choice) to sustain you until dinner time.
For a really tasty and warming winter soup simply boil up some carrots, celery, leeks, and chopped potatoes with some vegetable stock, garlic and thyme (plus the lentils). If you want to change it up, why not add some chopped coriander or cumin? Or create a green soup using garlic, broccoli, courgette and spinach with some grated parmesan for added creaminess if you fancy it.
Whilst the vegetables provide lots of energising B-vitamins, the additional protein in the form of beans or lentils will further boost B-vitamins, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. So, hopefully you’ll be less likely to be tempted to snack later in the day.
Roast up a trayful
Roasted vegetables tick all the boxes. Not only are they delicious, but they can also be eaten with a protein source such as fish, chicken or quinoa for a perfect meal. A trayful of veggies is loaded with fibre to keep everything moving smoothly and will aid digestion. And for even more variety, roasted vegetables are delicious cold, and added to salads.
A mixed and colourful tray will deliver a plethora of nutrients. All vegetables contain vitamin C in different amounts, but Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus are also great for feeding the beneficial gut bacteria. Courgettes are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin – both carotenoids which are especially beneficial for the eyes.
Beetroot is simply a super food! They are loaded with energising folate, iron and compounds that help liver detoxification. And the orange favourites that are carrots and sweet potatoes are both rich in the powerful antioxidant, beta-carotene.
As with all these vegetable recipes ideas, you’ll never get bored because there are so many different ones to choose from. Why not try roasting some veggies you’ve never eaten before such as aubergines or fennel? And for some added taste and protein, why not sprinkle with feta cheese?
So, make sure to include more vegetables in your diet and take the Veg Pledge today!
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