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.
1 serve = 75g (2.5oz).
1 serve cooked veg = 1/2 cup
1 serve leafy veg = 1 cup
one small potato
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.
video version of the recipe
veggie kebabs recipe
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
2 small heads broccoli
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.
Thanks for these recipes Jules! I will try them out on the whole family. Would you adjust the smokey paprika amount for a 3 and 5 year old – 1/2 tspn perhaps? I have only used it once before in another of your recipes, and as I understand it, it is not a hot and spicy spice, but rather a flavourful spice??? The kebabs idea really appeals as a novelty way for the children to eat veges and looks wonderfully quick. Thanks a load.
Good question Merenia
I’m not that familiar with cooking for kids…. so my initial instinct would be to leave the paprika as is. But if you’re worried maybe start with 1 teaspoon and take it from there.
Spinach with eggs is my favorite breakfast. I melt some butter and saute a HUGE handful of fresh spinach. As soon as it has wilted slightly, I add my eggs and scramble together. It looks pretty and tastes delicious.
I find it pretty easy to eat five serves. I take my lunch to work each day and have a salad of tinned salmon (with bones for calcium, all mashed up) and three veggies consisting of one cup leafy green and two half cups of pretty much what ever was left over from dinner. In summer served cold in winter warmed up, then with a squeeze of lemon and a tablespoon or two of LF cottage cheese or some LF fetta. Yummy! And that leaves only two half cups for dinner – steamed, stir fried, mashed – with whatever we’re having. It would be even easier if you ate potato (I do the slow carb thang so only on treat days). 1 potato and 1 veg!
If the requirements move to six serves, I’m making Catherine’s breaky! Easy to add spinach to my breaky egg.
My question is fruit. I love it but have been avoiding it except treat days as its high in sugar. I wonder if avoiding my two serves is affecting my health. Can I just add in two extra veggie serves to compensate? Amazing what a treat fresh, seasonal, whole fruit is on treat day by the way, when you have not had any all week. Its like chocolate!
I am an Israeli. Here we eat plenty of vegies daily and your efforts seem very strange for me.
We eat for breackfast a slice of bread with some 5% cheese or hummus or tahini and some freshly cut vegies, like some red peppre, tomato, cucumber or radish.
For luch at the office we usually have an
I am an Israeli. Here we eat plenty of vegies daily and your efforts seem very strange to me.
We eat for breackfast a slice of bread with some 5% cheese or hummus or tahini and some freshly cut vegies, like some red pepper, tomato, cucumber or radish.
For luch at the office we usually have an Israeli salad with a protein (tuna, boiled egg, chicken breast, etc), which is: chope into little cubes (half cm. each) at least a tomato, a cucumber and a little onion, add freshly squeezed lemon, olive oil and salt. If you want to indulge, add to the salat little cubes of pepper, lettuce, carrots, coloraby, red or green cabbage, parsly, dill, scallions.
Great post. Good info on what constitutes a serve. I did some research on exactly this topic earlier this year and it really annoyed me that ‘cooked’ vegetables was 1/2 cup and ‘salad’ vegies was 1 cup. I mean, I put carrot, celery, capsicum, tomato in a salad, did that mean it was 1/2 cup or 1 cup? Describing it as ‘leafy’ greens makes a lot more sense.
Thanks for this post! I love the sound of broccoli mash.. never thought of it before. Definitely have to try it!
These are great tips. I can never get enough veggies; they’re delicious and they make me feel great. And what a delicious meal. The recipe looks simple and fresh, and the photos are certifiably droolworthy. Thank you!
I know – I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of broccoli mash before either – haven’t seen it anywhere either – I wonder if it’s the first broccoli mash in the world? Imagine..
lucky you – leading by example! thanks for sharing your insights
gorgeous recipe! love the combination of colours and flavours!! I’ve never had broccoli mash, I think it’s time to try it
thanks ,,, i love it and looking for a long time how to do …
Great post! And your friend’s link with the photos was great. 5 servings REALLY isn’t a lot of veggies when you see them on a plate.
Really good blog topic, and something everyone strives for:P So thanks for sharing your ideas with us. I find a vegetable quiche is also great for adding lots of veggies into a meal.
Great recipe. As for the broccoli mash – sorry to disappoint, but we made this at a cooking school in Italy a few years ago – it’s utterly amazing.
Defiantly be following your blog from now on.
yes love a veggie quiche or frittata
great minds ;)
Thanks so much for the ingenious ideas. I included a link in my weekend links post today.