If we know vegetables are so good for us, why don’t we eat more of them? Probably because they make so us think of mushy peas and tasteless lettuce. But there’s so much more to vegetables than a boring side salad with your dinner. Here are 20 easy, delicious ways to get more vegetables into your daily diet.
1. Replace grains for vegetables.
This is one of the best ways to get more veggies in, especially for those who eat gluten-free or follow a paleo diet. Here’s what I regularly do:
- Make zucchini noodles instead of having pasta or noodles.
- Swap a burger bun for a large field mushroom.
- Use lettuce leaves as wraps.
- Serve bolognese sauce with steamed broccoli instead of spaghetti.
- Make lasagna with layers of thinly-sliced veggies (e.g. parsnips, zucchini, eggplant) instead of pasta sheets. (This amazing lasagne from Eat Drink Paleo is one of my all-time favourites.)
- Instead of a normal pizza base, make a cauliflower crust or use slices of eggplant for mini pizzas.
- Make cauliflower rice instead of traditional rice or top a shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash instead of potatoes.
2. Host a vegetarian potluck dinner where everyone else brings a vegetable-based dish.
You’ll get some new ideas by being exposed to new ingredients, recipes and cooking methods you haven’t tried before.
3. Eat veggies for breakfast.
Muesli and yoghurt may seem like a delicious way to start the morning, but switching to a savoury breakfast is a great head start for getting your vegetable count up for the day. I like no-fuss breakfasts you can make in advance – some of my favourite recipes are my zucchini slice, paleo egg muffins and my Purple Power Smoothie.
4. Add a side of sauerkraut.
Sauerkraut, or fermented cabbage, is rich in vitamins, helps digestion and promotes good gut bacteria. Either make your own or buy a trusted organic brand.
5. Choose vegetable-based dips.
Instead of dips based on yoghurt (like tzatziki) or chickpeas (like hummus), try eggplant-based baba ghanoush, roasted capsicum or beetroot.
6. Make vegetables chips.
If you haven’t had kale chips yet, you’re missing out! Making your own vegetables chips with everything from eggplant to parsnips is easy, cheap and so delicious that you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with regular potato chips. If you can invest in a dehydrator that will make things even easier, but even a regular oven (on its lowest temperature) works just fine. You just finely slice your veg of choice, brush or spray them with coconut oil, season with any tasty toppings (sea salt, parmesan, nutritional yeast, shredded coconut, cinnamon, etc) and bake until crispy. These recipes for sweet potato chips with orange and thyme, beetroot chips with curried dip and lemon and dill zucchini chips are divine.
7. Add vegetables to your sweet treats.
8. Snack on raw vegetables.
Sticks of celery, capsicum, cucumber and carrot are quick and tasty, especially with a homemade dip. But make it even easier for yourself by snacking on no-prep-needed vegetables like cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms or snow peas.
9. When eating out, swap chips for salad or vegetables.
Basic, but it works. If there aren’t any chips to swap, just ask for steamed greens on the side, which most places should either have on the menu or be happy to serve. Then fill up on these first before you dig into your main meal.
10. Barbeque them.
Barbecues don’t have to be all about meat – pick your favourite veggies and thread them onto skewers. I like using eggplant, zucchini, capsicums and mushrooms, like with these grilled Moroccan vegetable skewers. (This is a great way to get veggie-ambivalent men to eat them too!)
11. Juice them.
Juicing is a great way to get a hit of vegetables. (And if you’re making one yourself, it’s a good way to use up any not-as-fresh veggies that have seen better days.) My guide to juicing includes my two favourite recipes – carrot, celery and apple juice, and a green juice that has kale, silverbeet, celery, apple, lemon and ginger. But because juicing removes all the fibre from the fruit and veg, keep serving sizes small (approximately 250ml/8.5oz or less) so you’re not getting a big sugar hit.
12. Find a favourite and stick with it.
You don’t have to whip up fancy creations every night. My husband and I eat the same dish of roast vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, details below) once or twice a week. Find something that you love and stick with it.
13. Choose veggie-based drinks rather than fruit-based ones.
Fruit-based juices and smoothies can be awesomely thirst-quenching, but they’re a huge hit of sugar in one go. The Boost Juice ‘Blueberry Blast’ smoothie has a whopping 87g of sugar (22 teaspoons!!), whereas the ‘Veggie Garden’ juice has just 18 g (4½ teaspoons). Moral of the story: green is good!
14. Join a food co-op.
Shopping with a co-op is affordable and efficient, plus the regular deliveries of produce will open your eyes to seasonable veggies you may not have heard of like swiss chard, kohlrabi and rutabagas. A list of Australia-wide food co-ops is here, otherwise Perth people can check out Food Co-op NOR or The Organic Collective.
15. When cooking veggies for dinner, make double and eat them for breakfast the next day.
Simple! My favourite combination of roast veggies is a head of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, and a handful of Brussels sprouts (halved). After a liberal pouring of olive oil, salt and pepper, and lots of paprika, roast them at 180 degrees for 34-45 minutes. They’re delicious hot or cold.
16. Hide them in other things.
Bolognese sauce is a classic example of a sauce/dish you can pack with mushrooms, celery, onion or carrot. (You just have to make sure they’re very finely chopped or grated). I also always add ½ a cup of spinach to my smoothies – you can’t even taste it!
17. Make a big batch of vegetable soup then freeze it in portions.
Then when you don’t feel like cooking, you’ll still have a veggie-packed meal ready to go. Soup also makes a filling lunch during the week if it’s packed with healthy fats (from coconut milk and bone broth) like my yummy Glowing Greens Soup recipe.
18. Keep a stash of frozen veggies in the freezer.
Then you’ll have no excuses for not having them on hand to throw into soups, stews and smoothies.
19. Prep your veggies so they’re always ready to go.
I always cut and wash my celery then store it in the fridge standing up in a container of water to keep it fresh. It makes snacking on it easy and quick. (Two of my favourite ways are covered in almond butter or cut into sticks with homemade dip.) This is my guide on how to wash and store fresh produce.
20. Shop at farmers’ markets.
It’s always easy to get inspired by vegetables when they’re fresh, local and cheap. Choose what’s in season and create your meals around those.
If you have any other tricks to getting more veg in every day, I’d love to hear them. And if you try out any of these tips and snap a pic of them for Instagram, don’t forget to tag me @jenna.westphal and #jennawestphal so I can see them!