Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Veggies: Do you get your 5 serves a day??

Vegetables are a crucial part of a healthy, balanced diet. A variety of different coloured vegetables provides fibre, antioxidants and vitamins including vitamin A, C, E and folate as well as minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Even better is that vegetables are low in kilojoules (calories) and thus are a great way to provide bulk and fill your belly whilst keeping your weight in check. As if that wasn't enough, eating your 5 serves of vegetables per day can also protect against developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Despite this impressive nutrient profile, only 8.2% of Australian adults consume the required 5 serves of veggies daily. Yep, you read correctly, only 8.2% (this is according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Health Survey 2011/12).

So, what is 'a serve' of veggies? According to The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (2013), a serve of veggies is defined as 75g of vegetables, which is equivalent to:
  • 1/2 cup cooked green or orange vegetables (such as broccoli, spinach, carrot or pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup cooked dried peas, lentils or beans (such as red kidney beans, chickpeas, 4 bean mix)
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn 
  • 1/2 medium potato or equivalent amount of other starchy vegetable (such as sweet potato, cassava or taro)
  • 1 medium tomato 
  • 1 cup of salad leaves    
Every day in my work I find myself encouraging people to eat more vegetables. A common complaint is that people say they "don't like" veggies or find them boring. Now I must admit that I am a veggie fanatic, so it does still baffle me when I hear some people report they eat vegetables only once per fortnight. Eating vegetables should not be a chore, it should not be boring and it should not be tasteless. Vegetables are vibrant, colourful, nutrient dense and flavoursome but we do need to treat them with respect and get creative in the way we use them to unlock their full potential!

For some tasty ideas and inspiration on how to incorporate vegetables into your diet check out the Eat For Health website. I'll also bring you some of my favourite ways to meet your vegetable requirements each day.

I'm pleased to say I've had vegetables in all my main meals and snacks today! I kick started my day with my take on the oh-so-satisying 'Carrot Cake Porridge,' as per my recipe below:

Fruity Carrot Cake Porridge 

Serves 1

-  1/4 cup muesli (I make my own muesli with rolled oats, sultanas, chopped walnuts and almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds and linseeds)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- splash of milk
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 1/4 cup grated apple
- 1/4 cup halved red grapes
- cinnamon to taste
- generous dollop of plain yoghurt, to serve

1. Place muesli and water in a small saucepan over low heat. 
2. Whilst porridge is cooking, grate carrot and apple and chop grapes. 
3. Add carrot, apple and grapes to porridge and stir to combine.
4. Add cinnamon and milk to taste (every likes differing quantities of cinnamon and milk, so I'll leave this to your discretion!) and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reach (again, this is very personal!)
5. When your desired consistency is reached, remove porridge from stove and serve with a generous dollop of yoghurt. Enjoy!

This is not exactly your typical porridge with the inclusion of carrot and grapes but it honestly tastes divine! The carrot provides sweetness and a nutrient boost, whilst the grapes are just like big juicy sultanas which provide a nice moistness to the porridge. Even better is you know you can tick off one serve of veggies before you even head out the door for work. This dish is an all round winner if you ask me (though I may be slightly biased!). Please try this recipe, let me know your thoughts and share your tips for incorporating vegetables in your diet. 

Until next time, eat well and stay well, 

- Em xx


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