We live such busy lives these days that in the midst of the hustle and bustle we swap fresh real foods for those quick ‘nutrient shakes’ or something else to get our ‘hit of vitamins’ without having to really plan or go to so much effort.
If you’ve read The First, you’ll know I’m passionate about a whole-foods approach to life. And since science is still discovering new nutrients and compounds in fresh foods that contribute to our health, I am totally an advocate for stripping back to those basics and eating real foods.
Fruit and vegetables are two of the food groups that give us loads of good stuff that help our bodies to function properly. I’m sure most of us remember the good old 2 & 5 ads for fruit and veg. But what I found over the years is that it’s much easier said than done – getting all those portions into my day. I’ve had new years resolutions in the past to eat more vegetables, but I would find myself getting to dinner time and realising that five portions is really not realistic in one meal. Although it seemed like an impossible feat at first, I did manage to figure out some sneaky ways to incorporate fruit and veg throughout the day without feeling like I was a rabbit constantly gnawing on carrots.
So I thought I’d share with you some of my little tricks to try and pack as much goodness into your day without it feeling like you’re going far out of your way to eat more fruit and veg.
#1 Grate veggies into sauces
My personal favourite is grating zucchini (which I personally despise the taste of but persistently eat anyway) and carrot into my spaghetti or lasagne pasta sauce when we have Italian for dinner. Not only do you get all that goodness – all those vitamins and nutrients to help your body function – but you don’t even realise you’re eating them!
#2 Include fruit or veggies at breakfast.
Now I hear some whining noises at this one (especially from those who might love their simple piece of toast), but this is actually one of my favourite ways to get an extra serve of fruit or veg into my day. My favourite is to make either an omelette and pack mushrooms, capsicum and carrot (grated) into it, or if I’m feeling lazy I might just chuck it all together and make a veggie scrambled egg.
Otherwise I might have some yoghurt and muesli and pop some of my favourite seasonal fruits on top.
#3 Make the most of your snacks
Having snacks throughout the day helps to keep you focused and prevents overeating at later meals. And if you’re someone who gets hangry (like me), it does wonders to keep you cool, calm and collected. Adding a fruit or veg for morning tea or for an afternoon tea snack are low calorie options which also present a great opportunity for you to get your full array of vitamins in.
My top three favourite ‘healthy’ snacks:
- Chopped carrots with hummus
- Celery with unsalted, no added sugar peanut butter
- Yoghurt with seasonal fruit (my personal favourite at the moment is bananas or berries)
Sidenote: I have this really cool friend who back in high-school, would take fresh mushrooms and capsicum pieces as her snack to school. Everyone loved it! And we would all try to snag a bit.
#4 Add salad veggies to sandwiches
Hungry after that peanut butter or vegemite sandwich? Try swapping it for a lean meat and salad sandwich. Get the most out of lunch time and add some lettuce, tomato, carrot or cucumber to that sandwich of yours. Not only do veggies provide great stuff to nourish your body, but they also help to fill you up faster.
Want to know more about getting in all your essential nutrients? The Australian Dietary Guidelines have great tips, ideas and explanations – and better yet, there is a summary version!
Interested in more ways to get your fruit and veggies in or have some ideas of your own? Make sure you visit the Contact Me page to message me your thoughts and queries!