5 hacks to get more veggies into your diet
If you’re new around here, you might not already know this, but I am seriously obsessed with helping you try and increase your vegetable intake every day. This is something that is so important to our overall health as vegetables are full of vital vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fiber.
Studies have shown that the average person is just not hitting their goal intake, whether that’s in terms of total vegetables or in terms of these vitamins, minerals, or fiber.
In my journey towards healing my gut and dealing with my various triggers of irritable bowel syndrome, making sure that I was getting lots of fresh vegetables into my diet was really a defining factor in the change process that I went through.
Vegetables are one of the foundational aspects of health (read the blog post here). In fact, they are cornerstone piece of the puzzle! This is usually the number one thing that I start working with my clients on because it can have a halo effect across all different areas. This essentially means that as you work on consistently hitting your vegetable intake, this positive habit helps feed and grow other positive changes in your life. Just like how a stone thrown into the pond creates a ripple effect outwards, so too can the seemingly small action of increasing your vegetable consumption!
One of the biggest changes that I made to my habits to ensure that I’m hitting that daily veggie intake, is really trying to always include a source at breakfast. Traditionally, breakfasts don’t tend to be a place where we include vegetables as most of us tend to prefer the sweet over the savoury. (I’m definitely included in that too!)
But what if I told you, you can still have your sweet breakfast and sneak those veggies in?
In today’s blog post, I’m going to go through five of my favourite hacks for how you can sneak vegetables into your diet. Either these will be ways to hide them in places you wouldn’t guess they are, or just easy and quick ways to prepare them so that you have some no-hassle go-to’s to use whenever you need a veggie boost!
Veggie hack #1: Veggies in your porridge
Stick with me on this one! It might sound a little bit strange, but you can actually add a lot of veggies into your porridge, and you wouldn’t even know that they’re there.
One of my favourite ways to do this is to simply grate up some zucchini and mix it in with the oats. You’ll be decreasing the total amount of oats you would normally use to account for the added zucchini. For example, if you would normally do ½ cup of oats for porridge, try decreasing this to ¼ to 1/3 of a cup and instead adding about 1/3 to ½ of a zucchini grated.
If the green in your porridge is a turn-off first thing in the morning, then peel the zucchini first. The white flesh will be barely noticeable in your final porridge bowl!
You can also switch it up and try out other veggie combinations! For example, mixing in some grated carrots for sort of carrot cake type porridge bowl. Or perhaps some mashed pumpkin or butternut squash (or even sweet potato).
These would all make fantastic additions to your bowl of porridge and you’ll be getting a serving of veggies in first thing in the morning! You’ll be starting the day already ahead of the curve.
Try these recipes:
Veggie hack #2: Veggies in your smoothie
This is not the most revolutionary concept, but you can very easily get an additional serving or even two of veggies in your morning smoothie. And it doesn’t need to be the stereotypical green smoothie either!
Again, it’s all about playing around with combinations. You have two main types of veggie smoothies: the veggie is the star type, and the “I didn’t know there were veggies in there” type!
For a veggie is the star type, you want to play up the natural flavour of the vegetable. Using carrots or pumpkin you could create a smoothie flavour similar to a cake or muffin by combining these with warming spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
If you’re trying to hide the vegetables, then it is even easier. Most of your greens (spinach, kale, etc.) will be hidden by any fruit you use. But you can also sneak in some steamed (and frozen) zucchini or cauliflower without much impact on taste and they also tend to give a creamy texture to the smoothie!
Try these recipes:
Veggie hack #3: Replace noodles with vegetables
You might have already seen zucchini making the rounds on social media as a substitute for pasta, but there are actually so many other veggie noodle combinations that make great pasta alternatives.
You can invest in a tool that “spiralizes” your veggies for you into various shapes of noodles, but if you just want to get started you can use a simple vegetable peeler to create long ribbons. This way you can test out the idea without immediately making an investment in another kitchen tool. (Although the spiralizers do give you more flexibility in noodle shape and takes much less time!)
Some examples of veggies you can make noodles out of:
- Carrot (try and find as thick carrots as possible)
- (Sweet) potato
- Butternut squash
- Broccoli steam
Use the veggie noodles in any way that you would normally use pasta, whether that’s just for a simple spaghetti and meatballs, or as noodles in a stir-fry. Create thin slices of veggies like zucchini or eggplant to substitute for lasagne noodles, or thinly slice sweet potato for your own version of toast or even nachos!
Be creative and try remaking some of your favourite classics with veggie noodles.
Try these recipes:
Veggie hack #4: Veggie Rice
Similar to the veggie noodles, veggie rice can be a great swap in many dishes where you were using rice before.
The easiest way to make it, if you are using a vegetable that you can also make noodle out of, is to start with that step first. Then take your vegetable noodles, a portion at a time, and pulse in a food processor or blender just a couple times until you have a rice-like consistency.
Alternatively, if you are using broccoli or cauliflower, you can just cut these into florets and pulse in small batches in the food processor or blender. The small batches are key here to ensure you get the rice consistency and don’t end up with mashed cauliflower!
And just to note, you want to be doing this with the veggies in their raw form, before cooking.
The veggie rice doesn’t need to be boiled like your standard rice. Just use a pan or wok with a bit of cooking oil, (I like coconut oil for this), and stir regularly until softened. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of water to help get things going.
Flavour it like you would with normal rice; for example, a bit of coconut cream and lime is great with coconut rice for an Asian inspired dish.
Try these recipes:
Veggie hack #5: My favourite & easiest way to prepare veggies
Getting extra veggies into your diet is not just about finding places to hide them or swap them. Being conscious of them in your food is an important step, along with developing a taste for them. Vegetables, cooked properly, are far from bland and boring! But, unfortunately, we have often been brought up eating overcooked, sad veggies or have learned (incorrectly) that they take a lot of effort to prepare.
My favourite way for preparing veggies with maximum flavour and minimal effort is to create a sheet pan meal:
- Preheat the oven to 175C/350F
- Wash, peel (if necessary), and roughly chop into similar size cubes a variety of different veggies
- Scatter across the sheet pan (a full pan would probably provide you around 4 servings)
- Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and ground pepper, and any other spices you enjoy
- Across the top of the veggies, lay chicken thighs or chicken legs. They can also be spices with the seasoning you’ve chosen.
- Bake everything in the oven until the chicken is done and the veggies are tender.
The best thing about this meal is that the juices will come out of the chicken and get soaked into the cooking vegetables, adding an even deeper layer of flavour.
When choosing veggies, try and pick ones with similar cooking times. I’ll combine ones like zucchini and eggplants, or an assortment of root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, beets, etc.). If you chop them into similar sizes you should end up with a uniform cook.
And there you have it!
Those are my top five veggie hacks. Hopefully this is gives you some inspiration into ways to get even more vegetables into your diet.
If you struggle to be consistent with vegetables, head over here to check out my free five-day challenge to kickstart your vegetable habit.
As I’ve mentioned, it is so important to our overall health that we are consuming a variety of fresh vegetables every day; they are vital to our vitamin and mineral intake as well as having enough daily fiber. But even knowing this, so many of us are failing to get in those servings of veggies!
Start taking action and work towards a solid foundation of health. Sign-up for the free challenge and start immediately!