Vegetables are the flavor of the month around here, with a whole bunch of posts on why I follow a plant-based diet, to tips and recipes on to how you can easily include more vegetables into your breakfasts, mains, sweets and snacks. We’re also running a fantastic competition where you can win an amazing prize pack simply by sending through a picture of your best vegetable dish.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m try to push (perhaps not so subtlety.. ;) how great vegetables are for your health and how versatile they are – if you grew up eating the standard western fare of meat and three veg which led to a vegetable aversion, I strongly encourage you to give them another go – if I can’t convince you with vegetable noodles or rice, I bet I’ll win you over this this rich and creamy Chocolate Zucchini Pudding (I promise you can’t even taste he hidden zucchini!)
Today, we’re delving a little deeper into the nitty gritty on why it’s so important to include vegetables into your daily diet and how much you should be aiming for. And what better way to do this than with a little chat with nutrition guru and healthy recipe creating extraordinaire Jessica Cox.
Jessica is an accredited practicing nutritional practitioner who also happens to be an amazing cook – I first learnt about her after seeing some of her amazing recipe creations passing through my IG feed, and after I tried her carrot cake pancakes, I was hooked!
Q. Why is it important to include vegetables in your diet every day?
A. Vegetables provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that are vital for our health and vitality. Many of these can not be found in alternative food sources. Eating vegetables every day ensures you are meeting your daily needs of these nutrients, whilst providing your body with plentiful antioxidants and vegetable based fibre.
How much should we be aiming for on a daily basis?
The amount of vegetables one should eat per day will differ slightly from person to person, dependent on their needs. Generally, aiming to have some vegetables with each main meal, and in some form with your snacks is ideal. A rough guide is about one and half cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner meals and half a cup with breakfast. If you can manage this on a daily basis that’s great. As far as snacks, think about adding some sliced cucumber or tomato to your crackers with hummus or some grated vegetables to your homemade muffins and cookies.
In terms of eating a balanced meal, what should we be trying to incorporate into our veggie-based meals to ensure maximum nutrition?
Besides your vegetables, we should be aiming for our meal to include protein, essential fats and complex carbs. This will ensure our meal is ‘macronutrient balanced’, therefore sustaining us and keeping us fuelled for longer. To amp up your protein (asides from the amino acids found in vegetables, which are generally not enough to keep us fuelled for long), aim for protein such as meats/fish/legumes/eggs/nuts and seeds. For complex carbs go for whole wheat/rye/quinoa/buckwheat/barley and oats for example, and lastly for essential fats look at using sources such as avocado/quality oils/nuts and seeds.
If we’re looking at an actual serving, what would this look like if we are including all of these components?
If you aim for your plate or meal to be half vegetables, then roughly 1/4 protein and 1/4 complex carbs with a small handful of added fats, then you are generally going to hit the mark.
And for ideas on how to include more vegetables at each meal, check out the How to include more veggies in your diet series –