We all know how important fruit and vegetables are to maintaining optimal health. These natural bundles of goodness contain dietary fibre, which is central to good digestion. Fruit and vegetables also include many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals which assist with general health and protect against some diseases.
The recommended Australian daily intake is 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. For vegetables, a serving is 1 cup of raw veg or 1/2 cup of cooked veg. For fruit, a serving is 1 medium piece or 1 cup of canned fruit.
Meeting these recommendations can be difficult when leading a busy life (and even more so when cooking for children averse to green things!).
However, there are easy ways to increase your fruit and vegetable intake:
Include fruit and vegetables into your regular dishes:
• Add handfuls of spinach or kale to pancake batter or scrambled eggs.
• Shred carrot, zucchini, kale and spinach into pasta sauces, chilli con carne or soups.
• Incorporate grated beetroot or zucchini, stewed fruit and berries into cakes.
• Use vegetable garnishes on meals such as snow pea sprouts or chopped cherry tomatoes.
• Top cereal with fruit.
• Swap butter with avocado for a spread.
Preparation is key to beating inevitable snack cravings. With enticing easy-to-consume fruit and vegetables on-hand, you can easily turn a snack into a healthy nutritional boost:
• Select bite-sized or small fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be cut, such as berries, fresh dates, apples, stone fruit and cherry tomatoes.
• Pre-cut carrot, cucumber and celery segments to serve as is, or with a dip.
• At the start of a day, make a green smoothie packed with fruit and vegetables, and seal in a jar to consume later.
A fridge bursting with fruit and vegetables is a sure way to increase your intake:
• Buy seasonal produce which is often cheaper so you can purchase more.
• Don’t be scared of the discount rack at your greengrocer – blackened bananas can be used in smoothies; soft tomatoes can be cooked into delicious pasta sauces.
• Buy in bulk, chop and freeze for use in future meals.
For more advice on healthy living, check out our previous blogs here at The Living Press.