Do you know how many vegetables is enough in a healthy diet? Why do we bother anyway?
Vegies are a wonderful source of fibre, vitamins (vitamin C, beta carotene, folate), minerals (iron, zinc and magnesium) and phyto-nutrients which help our bodies to work properly and they taste great. They are also low in energy (think kilojoules) so they are great for anyone managing their weight.
Research shows eating vegies is linked to decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, overweight and some cancers.
So how much is enough? The recommended daily intake for vegetables in Australia for an adult is 5-6 serves, while for breastfeeding women it’s 7 1/2 serves.
What is a serve?
And what is a serve? This is where people often get confused. Often we think of a ‘serve’ as the portion of food we put on our plate but nutritionists and dietitians define a serve of vegetables as 75g. This is equal to 1 cup of uncooked leafy greens (salad!) or ½ cup of cooked vegies or 1 medium tomato or ½ medium potato.
Easy to eat that much, right! Right? Then why don’t we? According to the last Australian Bureau of Statistics the latest data showed less than 3.8% of Australian adults aged 18-64 years ate the recommended serves of veg!
Why don’t we eat vegies?
We know that diets high in vegetables are good for us so why don’t we eat them? There’s now more convenience than ever with pre-packed salads, pre-prepared fresh and frozen vegies ready for the pot, microwave or to stir fry or roast.
A lot of people tell me they don’t have time to prepare vegies – but with all those ready-to-heat/cook/serve vegies it seems more a matter of getting organised than a lack of time. Need help with getting organised? Check out my blog article on easy menu planning.
Other people tell me they don’t like broccoli or tomatoes or capsicum…. I don’t like brussel sprouts but there are many, many other types of vegies. I could eat five different vegies everyday for a month without having to eat brussel sprouts! Look for the ones you like, not the ones you don’t like.
And finally, people tell me they can’t eat five serves of vegies at dinner. Well, you aren’t expected to eat five serves all at once – spread them over the day. Include mushrooms or tomato on your toast or a green smoothie at breakfast, choose salad or heat up some leftover stir fry for lunch, snack on vegie sticks like celery, carrot, capsicum, beans and snow peas with a tasty vegetable dip (like the eggplant dip recipe below), then top off your day with vegies or salad with your evening meal. Yummo – and soo good for you!
- Eat vegies everyday
- Aim for at least 5 serves a day spread over the day
- 1 serve = 75g or 1/2 cup cooked vegies or 1 cup of salad
- Choose a variety, look for different colours and textures
- Choose both cooked and uncooked for variety and nutrition.
Baba Ghanoush or Eggplant Dip
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 lemons juiced
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 pinch cumin
- 1 Tbsp parsley chopped finely
- 1 grind pepper
- 1 pinch paprika
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celcius.
- Place the whole eggplant onto a baking tray and roast it for 20-30 minutes, till it is soft.
- Cool and spoon out the flesh, absorbing any excess juice with a paper towel.
- Mash the eggplant flesh with the garlic, salt, lemon juice, tahini and cumin.
- Spoon the mixture into a bowl and sprinkle with parsley and paprika.
- Cool in the fridge for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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