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Eating more vegetables

SA Health July19 Stills Print 121

Spreading vegetables over breakfast, lunch and dinner (plus snacks if you need them) make it easier to get our five or more serves of vegetables each day.

While the supermarket shelves may look a little bare, there is no shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables. Remember to always wash fresh fruit and vegetables under fresh water before eating.

Healthy tips to enjoy more vegetables on your menu every day

  • Chop vegetables ahead of time and store them in containers in the fridge.
  • Buying vegetables that are in season is cheaper and they’re generally fresher and tastier.
  • Look for vegetables that are cheaper per kilogram or unit.
  • Frozen vegetables count – they’re just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. Try steaming some frozen vegetables in the microwave or adding to a stir-fry.
  • Canned vegetables are cheap and good options to have on hand. Healthier choices are canned vegetables with ‘no added salt’ (if this option isn’t available then look for ‘reduced salt’).
  • Cooking methods are also important. Try steaming, grilling, baking or stir-frying with just a small amount of oil.
  • Make vegetables more fun for kids. Peel it and slice it, and they are more likely to eat it. If you have time, get them involved by making vegetable kebabs, or cut into interesting shapes.

Great ideas for including more vegetables into your day

Breakfast

  • Top toast or English muffins with cooked mushrooms, tomatoes, capsicum, sweet corn or baked beans.
  • Chop and add any vegetables in your fridge to an omelette or savoury pancake.

Snacks

  • Use carrot, celery, cucumber, capsicum sticks, florets of broccoli or cauliflower instead of crackers with a low-fat dip.
  • Grate or dice onion, carrot, zucchini, potato and corn into a savoury muffin.
  • Try wholegrain or wholemeal crackers topped with tomato and reduced-fat cheese.

Lunch

  • Grate beetroot and carrot to add colour to your salad or sandwich.
  • Fill a baked potato with coleslaw and finish off with a bit of reduced-fat cheese.
  • Add in-season vegetables or legumes such as dried beans, peas or lentils, to soups for added flavour and texture.

Dinner

  • Always serve dinner with cooked vegetables or a salad.
  • Make meat go further by adding extra vegetables in a stir-fry, curry or pasta.
  • Add extra vegetables, dried peas, beans or lentils to recipes for:
    • meatloaves, patties and stuffings
    • stews and casserole
    • home-cooked pies
    • pasta and rice dishes.
  • Use capsicum, zucchini, pumpkin, eggplant, cabbage or lettuce leaves as edible containers with savoury fillings.
  • If ordering takeaway, swap the side of chips for extra salad.

What is a serve?

One serve of vegetables is 75 grams:

  • ½ cup cooked vegetables
  • ½ cup cooked, dried or canned beans, peas or lentils (no added salt)
  • ½ medium potato or other starchy vegetables (such as sweet potato, taro or cassava)
  • 1 medium tomato
  • ½ cup sweet corn
  • 1 cup salad vegetables.

How many vegetables do we need every day?

On average, South Australian adults are only eating about half the daily recommended amount of vegetables. Adults need at least five or more serves depending on your age, gender and life stage.

Every day you should aim to consume:

  • 5 serves for all adult women (including during pregnancy) and men 70 years and older
  • 6 serves for men 19 to 50 years
  • 5½ serves for men 51 to 70 years
  • 7 ½ serves for breastfeeding women.

The amount of vegetables a child needs depends on their age:

2 to 3 years — 2½ serves of vegetables

4 to 8 years — 4½ serves of vegetables

9 to 11 years — 5 serves of vegetables

12 to 13 years — 5 to 5½ serves of vegetables

14 to 18 years — 5 to 5½ serves of vegetables.