veggie love: 7 tips to make sure you’re getting enough

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It feels like there’s an incredible amount of conflicting information out there when it comes to healthy eating. But have you ever noticed that there is one consistent message?

Yep, everyone from the vegans, to the raw food brigade, to the low fat fans, and even my fellow slow carbers all agree we should eat more vegetables.

so how much is enough?

According to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, most people should be aiming for at least 5 serves of veg a day.

Pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mums should be aiming for 6 – 7 serves.

Children’s needs increase with their age. But basically by the time you’re 8 years old, you should be aiming for 5 serves as well.

what exactly is a serve of vegetables?

Glad you asked.

by weight

1 serve = 75g (2.5oz).

by volume

1 serve cooked veg = 1/2 cup
1 serve leafy veg = 1 cup
one small potato

My nutritionist friend, Kathryn Elliott wrote a great post with pictures of what 5 serves of vegetables looks like. Worth checking out.

7 tips to get your 5 serves a day

1. Include vegetables at breakfast.
This is possibly the easiest way to increase your vegetable intake. I’ve really been getting into spinach with my eggs for breakfast. Sometimes I use fresh baby spinach but mostly I just defrost some frozen spinach. And give it a good squeeze of lemon juice. But if spinach is a bit too weird for you, how about mushrooms or grilled tomato?

2. Serve a side salad or veg at dinner.
Pretty self explanatory. If you’re not already including a side with your evening meal, what are you waiting for? In summer especially, a classic green salad only takes a couple of minutes to whip up and goes with pretty much anything. And while I still like my salads in the winter, some steamed broccolini or my all time favourite super simple broccoli are my go-to accompaniments.

3. Use vegetables to snack.
While it does take a little bit of organisation, snacking on vegetables is a brilliant way to expand your intake. With the added bonus of keeping you away from sweet treats. Carrots or celery with a little peanut butter or hummus are a great place to start.

4. Plan for leftover veggies.
Rather than just cooking what you need for dinner, why not make extra veg to have with your breakfast, lunch or as a snack.

5. Try eating vegetarian one day a week.
I’ve been a little slack with my meat-free mondays because I’m travelling at the moment but it’s another great way. Replace your meat with lentils or beans (which count as veg!)

6. Have some dessert.
OK, not so obvious. But even sweet treats can help in the veggie department. Try something like this wonderful zucchini cake.

7. Keep a record for a few weeks.
As all good business students know, we manage what we measure. So why not keep track of your serves of veg a day and see where it leads you.

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video version of the recipe


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Our 5 Ingredient Baking class starts this weekend at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

Just 24 hours left to go in the draw to win a copy of my 2 favourite baking cookbooks: How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson AND Bourke Street Bakery by Paul Allam.

Sign up here today.

Competition closes 7pm Eastern US time Tuesday 12th April 2011.

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veggie kebabs recipe
serves 2

1 tablespoon smoked paprika
300g (10oz) firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 medium zucchini
12 button mushrooms

1. Preheat overhead grill or broiler on its highest setting. And soak 4 bamboo skewers in cold water.

2. Combine paprika with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a medium bowl. Season.

3. Toss tofu in the marinade to coat. Stand while you prep the vegetables.

4. Slice zucchini into wide ribbons using a mandoline or vegetable peeler. Trim mushroom stalks.

5. Tread tofu, zucchini and mushrooms onto the skewers. Drizzle with any leftover paprika oil.

6. Grill for about 3 minutes on each side or until the mushrooms are cooked and the tofu is hot.

st patrick’s mash recipe
serves 2

2 small heads broccoli
knob butter
1. Chop broccoli into rough pieces.

2. Bring about 2cm (1in) salted water to the boil in a medium saucepan.

3. Add broccoli and cook, covered for about 5 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

4. Drain and mash broccoli with the butter using a stick blender, your food processor, or just use a fork.

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