5 hacks to get more veggies into your diet

5 hacks to get more veggies into your diet

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:

  • Zucchini
  • Carrot (try and find as thick carrots as possible)
  • (Sweet) potato
  • Butternut squash
  • Broccoli steam
  • Kohlrabi
  • Celeriac
  • Turnip

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.
  • Enjoy!

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!

Breakfast Carrot Cake

Breakfast Carrot Cake

Breakfast Carrot Cake

Growing up, carrot cake was my absolute favourite type of cake whether it was for birthdays or other celebrations. Except somehow I usually ended up getting chocolate cake, and the carrot cake seemed saved for my mom’s birthday instead. Can’t really complain too much about that, though! (I mean, cake is cake, right?!)

We always used a well-loved cookbook for our carrot cake recipe, and even though I’m not a huge fan of pineapple, it was a not-to-miss ingredient in our cake. Even now I love the twist that it adds to the recipe, giving it an extra bit of moisture and sweetness without the extra oils and added sugar.

I decided I wanted to have carrot cake for breakfast (it seemed like one of those things you just should do), so I needed to refine our family recipe to something a little more balanced – and I’m so happy with the results!

This oatmeal cake variation is everything that is amazing about carrot cake, but you can still happily eat it all week for breakfast. That’s a win for me! The oats make it quite filling so that you don’t need a huge portion, and it will stay with you all morning. Or just have a smaller slice as a snack!

I topped mine with plain cream cheese rather than creating a sugar-filled icing, but you can do whichever you prefer. I’m sure if you google “cream cheese icing” you’ll find plenty of possibilities.

Breakfast Carrot Cake

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 1/4 cup oat flour or oats ground using food processor
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
  • 3 eggs large, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups grated carrots packed
  • 3/4 cup pineapple diced
  • 3/4 cup walnuts chopped

Optional

  • 200 g cheese cheese skip for dairy-free

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 160C / 320F. Line a 23x23cm (9x9") baking pan with parchment paper (cut two strips so that the paper continues up the sides of the pan).
  • In a medium bowl, add all the dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the maple syrup, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. If you have just melted your coconut oil, allow it to cool before using to ensure you don't cook your eggs!
  • Add in the grated carrots to the wet ingredients and mix until well combined.
  • Add the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.
  • Fold in the diced pineapple and chopped walnuts.
  • Pour batter into the baking pan and spread out evenly in the pan.
  • Bake for 40 minutes. (If you test with a toothpick it should come away clean.)
  • Allow to cool, then remove from pan. "Ice" with the cream cheese. Cut into 8 slices and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
  • You could also skip the creamcheese and freeze the bars instead, only icing them once defrosted and prior to eating.
Keyword Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Eat Seasonally! Free Summer Produce Guide

Eat Seasonally! Free Summer Produce Guide

Today, when you walk around the produce section of a grocery store, you often have no concept anymore of the four seasons. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are stocked throughout the year and so we have slowly gotten away from cooking and eating with the seasons.

Summer is upon us and with it comes some of the most amazing produce! This is a time of abundance in the garden and at the market, so take advantage of it. You might be preferring raw fruits and veg to cooked. Lean into these cravings and indulge in everything the summer season has to offer!

Eating seasonally has many benefits. Choosing in-season produce means you likely are getting fruits and veggies that are more nutrient dense, since they have been grown in their optimal environment and are freshly harvested. They’ll also probably be more flavourful than their off-season neighbours in the produce section!

The best way to do this is to head to your local farmer’s market where you can support local growers and see with your own eyes what has been freshly harvested.

But whether you’re going to the market or just to your local grocery store, I got you! Click below to download my easy guide to seasonal produce. Pin this up in your kitchen for an easy resource when you’re planning your weekly grocery haul!

See some things on the list you don’t recognize? I challenge you this season to try 2-3 new fruits or veggies! It will help keep meal times interesting, foster creativity in your cooking, and eating a wider range of food usually means a wider range of vitamins and minerals as well!

Let me know what new fruits or veggies you’re going to try in the comments!

Happy shopping!

Eat Seasonally! Free Spring Produce Guide

Today, when you walk around the produce section of a grocery store, you often have no concept anymore of the four seasons. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are stocked throughout the year and so we have slowly gotten away from cooking and eating with the seasons.

Spring is just around the corner, and after a long winter you’re probably looking forward to some fresh and bright flavours! Spring and summer bring in some of the most amazing produce, and you might start to feel like moving away from heavier soups and stews towards lighter fare. You might also be preferring raw fruits and veg to cooked. Lean into these cravings and indulge in everything the spring season has to offer!

Eating seasonally also has some other benefits. Choosing in-season produce means you likely are getting fruits and veggies that are more nutrient dense, since they have been grown in their optimal environment and are freshly harvested. They’ll also probably be more flavourful than their off-season neighbours in the produce section!

The best way to do this is to head to your local farmer’s market where you can support local growers and see with your own eyes what has been freshly harvested.

But whether you’re going to the market or just to your local grocery store, I got you! Click below to download my easy guide to spring produce. Pin this up in your kitchen for an easy resource when you’re planning your weekly grocery haul!

See some things on the list you don’t recognize? I challenge you this season to try 2-3 new fruits or veggies! It will help keep meal times interesting, foster creativity in your cooking, and eating a wider range of food usually means a wider range of vitamins and minerals as well!

Let me know what new fruits or veggies you’re going to try in the comments!

Happy shopping!

Eat Seasonally! Free Winter Produce Guide

Today, when you walk around the produce section of a grocery store, you often have no concept anymore of the four seasons. A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are stocked throughout the year and so we have slowly gotten away from cooking and eating with the seasons.

With winter here we often overlook eating seasonally as many of the winter produce is less popular or less known as other seasons. This period is often one of warm, rich foods like baked or roasted veggies, soups, and stews . These warm foods are easier on our digestion as our bodies generally need to use more energy to keep warm or potentially guard against the cold and flu season that may have hit. If you feel this way, then I encourage you to lean into it and fully embrace the change! 

Eating seasonally also has some other benefits. Choosing in-season produce means you likely are getting fruits and veggies that are more nutrient dense, since they have been grown in their optimal environment and are freshly harvested. They’ll also probably be more flavourful than their off-season neighbours in the produce section!

The best way to do this is to head to your local farmer’s market where you can support local growers and see with your own eyes what has been freshly harvested.

But whether you’re going to the market or just to your local grocery store, I got you! Click below to download my easy guide to winter produce. Pin this up in your kitchen for an easy resource when you’re planning your weekly grocery haul!

See some things on the list you don’t recognize? I challenge you this season to try 2-3 new fruits or veggies! It will help keep meal times interesting, foster creativity in your cooking, and eating a wider range of food usually means a wider range of vitamins and minerals as well!

Let me know what new fruits or veggies you’re going to try in the comments!

Happy shopping!

Healthfully Heather (eenmanszaak)
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