Having been asked a lot by readers to add in some more food and healthy living posts to the blog, I wanted to start by writing a post on ways to add veg into your diet easily, which is something that a lot of people struggle with on a daily basis.
Eating enough vegetables is something that is close to most peoples hearts, as everyone wants to eat more healthily but in a simple and easy way.
In fact, I am actually having my own experiment with increasing my healthy eating at the moment in that I have quit sugar!. I am using Sarah Wilsons “I Quit Sugar”** books, and it’s all going really well. One of the unexpected main benefits is that this has dramatically upped my veg intake in ways I wouldn’t have previously thought of – and I’m enjoying every second, which for me is huge as I’m not the worlds biggest vegetable fan!
Finding easy ways to get more veg into your meals is a fantastic way to start when you are trying to get healthy, so why not start there!. It can literally transform how many nutrients you get on a daily basis – and every little step counts!
#1 – Add into smoothies
Smoothies are a really easy way of getting extra veg into your diet – whether it’s for adults or kids.
They are easy to prepare, and you can pretty much grab what you have in the fridge/freezer and make up your own concoctions.
TIP – Start with a more fruit based smoothie and add in just a handful of spinach leaves which you won’t even taste (you may get a green smoothie though!). Once you get used to different tastes then you can add in lots of different veg (cucumber, courgette, avocado, kale all work really well).
A favourite mix of mine at the moment is a handful of spinach, a handful of frozen summer berries, a glass of almond milk, a few spoonfuls of natural yoghurt, and some chia seeds (these help to create a lovely thick milkshake like consistency). I don’t add any sweetener (once I quit sugar my tastes changed) but you could add in half a banana as well if you prefer.
My daughter absolutely loves to make these mixes, and is getting very brave with the combinations so I am finding its a great way to introduce weird and wonderful veg to her.
This is a fantastic way to start the day, and a smoothie can be filling enough for breakfast. What better way to walk out the door knowing you have already had 2 or more of your 5 a day!
#2 – Create soups
Soup is another easy way to slip some veg into your meal without really noticing. Yes, the veg are there (and usually in the title of the soup!) – but if you blitz it together to form a smooth soup, then you can add a few extra bits really easily!
A favourite of mine is Butternut squash soup. Simply roast some butternut squash and red onion on a baking tray, then add to a pan of stock and blitz until smooth – delicious and really easy (perfect for Autumn as well!).
Other great combinations would be Potato and Leek, Mixed Veg, or why not add some veg puree to a chicken soup etc.. for extra hidden veg!
#3 – Add to eggs
One of my favourite tricks with eggs is to add a cube of frozen spinach to them when cooking (which I buy from the supermarket and pretty much add to everything!).
Yes, it makes an omelette or scrambled eggs green – but you can’t taste the veg, and it really bulks up the meal.
#4 – Make veggie chocolate mousse (yes, really!)
Now this may just blow your mind if you have a sweet tooth – but it really works and is really tasty, and healthy too.
Create your own chocolate mousse in a blender by adding avocado.
I found the idea a few months ago on the internet and honestly have never looked back since, even my daughter (7) loves it!
I know it sounds weird – but I promise you that you don’t taste the avocado – it just gives a wonderfully indulgent texture to the mousse and adds such a lot of goodness.
There are absolutely tonnes of recipes out there with various different variations on them, so please have a search round google – but to point you in the direction I have taken already – some recipes I like are here and here, and there a great video here too.
#5 – Use in your baking
Now, we’ve all heard of carrot cake – but why stop there!
Adding veg to your baking can make some amazing things, and just a quick search around the web has given me tonnes of ideas to try out (I’m hungry already just at the thought!). Things like –
- Beetroot Brownies (beetroot and chocolate are a great match)
- Sweet potato brownies
- Courgette and Cheddar bread
- Pumpkin scones
#6 – Blitz up into pasta sauces
Any vegetable can be blitzed up and the puree can easily be added to a pasta sauce for extra goodness. I particularly like butternut squash or carrots, but you can be as creative as you like (and also use up whatever is in the fridge!)
TIP – Why not puree veg in bulk and freeze in small serves (ice cube trays work well – freeze then put the cubes into a freezer proof container) so that you can add a bit to meals really easily when you are cooking
#7 – Use as the pasta!
There is a craze at the moment in healthy eating circles to actually use courgettes and carrots as the pasta itself.
People are using contraptions such as a spiralizer** – which looks funky but I think adds to the clutter in your kitchen if you’re not to careful!
Another way I have used this idea is to simply use a vegetable peeler and create long strips of vegetables, mixing in with tagliatelle. This is a real winner in our house and creates really gorgeous looking food really simply.
The veg takes very little time to cook – and as you get used to the swap you could use less and less pasta – yum!
#8 – Cut up small/grate into dishes
I find that grating veg and adding to meals is one of the simplest ways to increase veg in meals.
We all tend to have meals such as spaghetti bolognese, chilli, stew, and similar – and there is always room for adding a handful or two of grated courgette/carrot etc.. to the pot.
Not only do you not really notice the extra veg, but you can cook less meat and therefore save a bit of money as well – perfect!
#9 – Swap potatoes
Having potatoes with meals in some form or another is very usual – whether it be baked, mashed, chips etc….
But the humble white potato doesn’t actually count as vegetables in our diet at all…..
Why not, therefore, swap all or some of the white potatoes with sweet potatoes – which are counted as veg?
Sweet potato has a wonderful taste and you use it in just the same way as a white potato – and the bonus of this swap is because its sweet, kids love them!
#10 – Pizza, anyone?
Why not bulk up your usual pizza with some veggie toppings?
Frozen sweetcorn works really well, as do peppers and onions – and you barely notice they are there…
Getting more out of what you already eat has to be the quickest and easiest way to start with healthier eating for yourself and for the whole family…
…so I hope these tips have given you a little extra inspiration for this weeks meals…