Five More Ways To Increase Your Veggie Intake
I've talked about it before, and I'm sure I will talk about it again. Vegetables are great! They are filled with fabulous fibre, and many vitamins and minerals to help our bodies function optimally. We know that higher intake of fruits and vegetables is commonly associated with decreased rates of mortality, but resent research is also showing many other benefits of eating more veggies. One study conducted amongst over 12,000 participants, showed that increased fruit and vegetable consumption was predictive of increased happiness, life satisfaction and well-being. Another study found that a high level of fruit and vegetable intake appeared to be a predictor of greater emotional well-being on the following day.
What we eat absolutely does effect how we feel, and these studies are great because they show that you can have almost immediate benefits from increasing your fruit and vegetable intake.
I've written before about '5 ways to enjoy eating your veggies' because I strongly believe that if you want to make changes that will last for the long-term, then they have to be enjoyable. So today I bring you 5 more ways to increase your veggie intake, because really, who doesn't want to improve their emotional (and physical) well-being?!
1. Cut them up - having vegetables cut up and ready to use will make you a lot more likely to eat them when you're exhausted after work and looking for an easy dinner option. It will mean that snacks are just a tupperware container away, and mid-week meals are stress-free (or at least greatly reduced). I like to prepare a big batch of thinly sliced cabbage, then use that as a very easy base for my salads for the next few days. If fruit and veg are cut up on a plate they are way more likely to be eaten than having the whole pieces sitting in the fridge.
2. Use frozen veg - frozen vegetables have been snap frozen at the peak of their ripeness, so they are a nutritious option that can often be more economic than fresh veggies. They are also super easy to use as you don't have to do any chopping or peeling, just pour them into your stir-fry, fried rice, pasta or any other dish and you're good to go. Another benefit I like is that there is no waste, as you just use what you need and freeze the rest.
3. Schedule in at least one meat-free meal per week - we have a meat-free meal a few times a week, and it's so good for a range of reasons. Adding chickpeas, legumes and beans to your diet a few times per week means you'll be saving money, as legumes are a cheaper source of protein than meat; filling up on fibre, in particular resistant starch, which is resistant to digestion until it reaches the large intestine, where it is fermented by the friendly bacteria that live there, and this plays an important role in gut health and also helps with strengthening our immune system; and also increasing your veggie intake as we tend to group legumes in the veggie category. There are heaps of delicious meat-free meals, have a look here for some easy ideas.
4. Experiment with adding veggies to different dishes - most of the time when I'm cooking, I take the opportunity to bulk meals up with extra veggies. This could be adding grated veggies and mushrooms to bolognese sauce, blending cooked cauliflower into white sauce for lasagne, or adding extra frozen veggies to fried rice. Some people are even in to grating carrot and zucchini into their morning oats. I must admit, I haven't tried that yet, but hey whatever works for you! Try using different veggies to mix up your favourite dishes, who knows you might it better?
5. Have veggies as snacks - choose (or make) a dip based on veggies or chickpeas, and have that with crackers or vegetable sticks. This is a super easy, tasty and filling way to include veggies into your afternoon snack. At the moment my favourite is beetroot dip, made by blending one tin of beetroot (540g tin, drained), with 1.5 cups chickpeas (or could use 1 tin, drained) and a pinch of salt. So easy and so good.
What are your favourite ways to eat veggies??
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