5 Easy Ways to Eat More Veg
Without doubt, one of the simplest yet most powerful ways we can improve our health is by adding more veg to our plates.
Time and time again, research is consistently showing just how amazing plants are for our health, by lowering our risk of chronic disease and illness, improving our gut health and microbiome, and even improving our mental health and wellbeing. In addition, adding more fruit and veg to your diet is the best way of increasing your fibre intake, which, besides helping to protect against colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease, is also crucial for healthy, regular bowel movements (and, shockingly, most of us nowadays are chronically constipated).
Yet so many of us still struggle with getting the recommended 7-a-day of fresh fruit and vegetables, whether as a result of having to cook for the family and struggling with a partner or kids who refuse to eat their veggies, or just not really knowing what to do with vegetables, and/or a misconception that they’re bland, boring or gross.
Well, I’m here to bust those myths! Veggies are not only the most important thing we can do for our health, but they can also be delicious, and consuming them doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’re struggling to know how to eat more veg without having to resort to salad, or you’re looking for ways to sneak more veg into your kids’ (or vegetable-hating partner’s) meals, here are my top 5 ways to add more veggies to your diet.
1. Add them to smoothies
This is my number one favourite way to get more greens into my diet. In fact, green smoothies were one of the first things that I discovered on my own health journey, and that almost immediately became a part of my daily self-care and wellness routine. People are always skeptical, but I assure you that you don’t taste the greens (especially if you use spinach) once they’re blended in, so it’s a great way to get children to eat more veg, and it ensures we have at least a daily portion of greens, which are so vital for optimal health and longevity.
You can also add in other veg to smoothies though, besides greens. Cauliflower, for example, is quite common in smoothie recipes nowadays, and gives the smoothie a creamy texture and taste.
2. Sneak them into soups and sauces
Soups are a fantastic way to up your veg intake, as you can cram in loads of veg that you wouldn’t otherwise use, and, once blended up, you’d never know what went in there (but your body will thank you!). One of my favourite examples is this 7 vegetable soup recipe from ‘Oh She Glows’.
Soups are also great to have for lunches (instead of having to buy a takeaway sandwich, last-minute), they’re filling, easy to make, and can be frozen, so you always have healthy food available in the freezer for those days that you really can’t be bothered.
Another great way of sneaking in more veg is by turning them into sauces. Cheese and white sauces work particularly well for this; for example, making a mac and cheez sauce using blended butternut squash and nutritional yeast. If cheezy sauces aren’t your thing, you can also bulk out homemade tomato sauces by adding in whatever chopped veg you fancy (carrots, peppers, courgette, maybe even roast sweet potato or broccoli), and either blending it up or leaving it chunky, to have with pasta for a quick but healthy mid-week meal.
3. Hide them in desserts
As with smoothies and cheez sauces, it’s all about hiding veg where you would least expect it... like in cakes and desserts! There are now tons of recipes out there for sweet potato brownies, zucchini brownies, black bean brownies, chocolate zucchini cake, chocolate beetroot cake, chocolate avocado mousse, etc... the possibilities are endless! Speaking from personal experience, some of these can be hit-or-miss, but it’s definitely worth trying, as there are definitely some great recipes out there, where you would never taste the veg, and can enjoy your cake knowing that it’s actually doing something good for your health.
4. Shred them into patties, nuggets, etc.
If you or your family are looking for healthier versions of (British/US) ‘classics’, rather than experimenting with different or ‘fancier’ cuisines, then a really good way of getting more veg on to your plate is to turn shredded veg into burgers, nuggets, etc. (often with the addition of a grain, like brown rice or quinoa).
No, it’s not going to taste exactly like your usual burger. But you might find it’s just as delicious (or more!). Again, it’s usually a case of trying different recipes until you find one you all like. This one sounds delicious for example.
They can be a little messy to prepare initially, but the great thing is that they can usually be stored in the fridge or freezer ahead of time, so you could make a huge batch on Sunday, for example, and keep what you don’t need in the freezer for an easy mid-week meal when you don’t have time to cook, or are craving something familiar and comforting.
You can also up the veg intake by adding tomato, lettuce, fried onion or avo to the burger, making your own sweet potato wedges/fries, and grilling or steaming some corn-on-the-cob for the side. Yum!
5. Snack on carrot sticks
This is by far one of the easiest ways to add more veg into your diet – by snacking on raw veg (usually carrot sticks, celery sticks, cucumber slices, or red pepper slices) with a dip such as hummus, fresh guacamole, or nut butter. The veg can be chopped ahead of time (although I find that after more than 24 hours the veg doesn’t taste or look as good), like the night before, and kept in Tupperware in the fridge for when you’re craving something crunchy or crispy (i.e. when you might normally reach for a bag of crisps or a biscuit). Eating them with a heathy fat such as tahini (in the hummus), avo, or nut butter, also makes them surprisingly filling, whilst also being great for our skin and brain health.
Getting kids on to these kind of snacks from an early age (and offering them as the only snack available besides fruit) gets in that extra veg portion that might otherwise be lacking, makes them more open to trying other kinds of veg, and overall builds a really strong foundation for healthy eating and healthy habits.
So there you have it: 5 ways to add in more veggies to your diet!
Which one of these are you going to try this week? Would you like more plant-based recipes and tips for healthy eating? Let me know in the comments below!
Dr Charlotte X