Five ways to enjoy eating your veggies

A new year is well and truly here, more than one month down already! With the beginning of a new year often comes resolutions of increased health and decrease weight, and often in the form of restriction and cutting out foods that we enjoy eating. While restrictive eating will most likely make you lose weight in the short term, studies show that it is not a long-term solution for weight loss and not necessarily the way to increase health. 

Cutting out food we enjoy and find pleasure in eating will only make us unhappy, and likely to enter a restriction - binge - guilt cycle with this food. Food is for fuel, yes, but it is also to be enjoyed. It is to be shared, and to bring people together. Food should bring us joy and pleasure, so instead of cutting out certain food groups in 2016, why not make peace with all types of food and instead focus on adding more of the healthy stuff, and making them more pleasurable to eat, so the path to being healthier is more enjoyable and more sustainable.  I'm talking about shifting our focus to vegetables. The wonderful things that you can grow in your own backyard with minimal skill, that come in all different colours, shapes, flavours and textures, that make us feel good from the inside out, that are filling and are packed with nutrients and fibre to help keep us healthy and feeling good. 

That's right, vegetables are amazing, and eating enough of them is one thing that most of us could do to increase our health. Unfortunately though, many people don't find vegetables so appealing, but I think that with the right dressing or sauce and cooked correctly, we can all find eating vegetables a delicious and enjoyable experience. Below are 5 tasty ways to help you enjoy increasing your vegetable consumption.   

1- Dress it up - your salad that is. A salad without dressing isn't that great at the best of times, but add a delicious dressing and you can transform your meal. Forget the store bought varieties, a good salad dressing can be as simple as olive oil and balsamic dressing, using equal parts of both and shaking it up in a jar. Add some sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic or lemon to mix it up, or try this fresh basil dressing. And don't be shy with your dressing, olive oil is a healthy fat that also helps us to absorb more of the nutrients from the leafy greens. 

2-Let veggies be the star of your dip - Dips can be quite healthy and a welcome addition to any meal or snack, especially if the main ingredient is a vegetable. Here are three delicious and easy dips that prominently feature veggies. Enjoy with sliced veggies, crackers, on a sandwich, or in a salad.  

3- Smother your steamed veggies in pesto - lets face it steamed veggies can be quite bland and boring, especially if they're over cooked! But they are also a cheap, easy and healthy addition to any dinner, so enjoy your steamed veg by smothering them in home made pesto. Here is a classic recipe. Or get creative and use a range of different herbs and nuts. 

4- Top with a cheesy white sauce - despite what you may think, white sauce (or off-white sauce when using wholemeal flour) isn't the devil, and is actually a really good source of calcium and can take steamed or grilled vegetables to the next level. Here is a super easy recipe, basically just melt a bit of butter, or olive oil, in a pan. Stir in some flour (I use wholemeal flour, which works well). Cook for 1-2 minutes. Take of the heat and whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, then simmer for 8-10 minutes and season. I would also add to this: grate some parmesan in, or add mixed herbs to the white sauce for added flavour. This is a great way to encourage vegetable consumption for people of all ages, while also boosting calcium intake. 

 Grilled zucchini with white sauce, using wholemeal flour and mixed herbs, and crumbled feta on top. Delicious.

Grilled zucchini with white sauce, using wholemeal flour and mixed herbs, and crumbled feta on top. Delicious.

5- Barbecue your veg - In Australia, Summer = BBQ weather, so why not mix up the usual meat fest, with some barbecued veggies. Coat the veggies with salt, pepper and olive oil, and cook the vegetables until they are tender and lightly charred. Zucchini, corn, capsicum, asparagus, eggplant and mushrooms are all delicious prepared in this way. A yoghurt dressing is delicious on barbecued vegetables as well.    

Increasing your vegetable intake has so many positive benefits to your health, and can also be very delicious and enjoyable. So next time you want to 'get healthy' and cut out different things from your diet, instead think of what vegetables you can add in, and how you can prepare them in a way that you will really enjoy. Healthy eating is a lot more sustainable if we are enjoying the food we eat, so why not try jazzing up your usual vegetables and see if you can eat a few extra serves each day.