A healthy, balanced diet needs to contain appropriate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and these should ideally come from a wide variety of foods. Vegetables are the nutritious power-houses of food, bursting with important vitamins for energy and supporting the healthy function of our brains. However, even though we are aware of all the benefits, it’s hard to get the magic number 5 of veg and fruit portions we should be eating each day.
But it doesn’t have to be! There are all sorts of tricks to make healthier meal choices and increase the amount and variety of vegetables in your weekly diet like: choose cleverly-crafted veggie burgers or colourful multi-veg mixtures, add some fruit to your dessert, eat more fish or use more condiments instead of salt. Here are a few of our favourite tips:
Switch it up
Innovation in food has resulted in lots of great ideas for substitutes – without even noticing, you’ve got more veg in your meal:
- Use spiralised vegetables (made at home or bought in shops) instead of pasta. Swap rice with cauliflower or broccoli “rice” for a lower-carb meal.
- Swap meat portions for vegetable alternatives – like Birds Eye’s Green Cuisine range of meat-less products or veggie fingers
- Switch to a guilt-free pizza by making cauliflower pizza bases. These are made with shredded cauliflower and can contain more nutrients than the traditional wheat flour bases
- Chunky veg like broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms can be wrapped in golden batter or breadcrumbs and fried for a tasty one-off treat
Start the day right
It’s key to start the day with a nutritious breakfast and you don’t have to re-invent the wheel: something as simple as a bowl of wholegrain cereal with a piece of fruit sounds just right. That said – don’t be afraid to mix it up. How about making yourself a smoothie chock full of your favourite vegetables and fruits, or cooking up a savoury option such as a pea omelette.
Sneak in some extra veg
Some classic family meals can take on an extra portion of veg without their taste changing much at all. Try adding carrots to a spaghetti Bolognese, parsnip or swede to potato mash, peas to a pesto, or chickpeas to your chilli – our pulses mix gives you 3 beans in one go for a little variety!
Soups are incredibly quick to make and will last for at least a few days in the fridge – giving you ready-made veg in smooth portions that are great for lunches or quick dinners.
Try meat-free Mondays (or any other day)
Pick a day to go meat-free, and discover that eating vegetables can be just as satisfying as meat-based dishes. Veggie curries, stir fries, risottos and chillies (without the carne!) are as easy to make, flavoursome and filling as their meaty counterparts – but by substituting the meat for another vegetable, you’ve instantly doubled the amount of veg in the dish. If you don’t know where to start we have a few meat-free recipe ideas ready.
Use shortcuts to healthier meal options
Make it easier to eat more vegetables by stocking up on varieties that are quick to prepare. Use frozen veg with nutrients locked in, to store large quantities for longer and save on food waste – you can even bulk cook and keep cooked veg in the fridge, ready to add to your plate at short notice.
Microwave our garden peas in hot water and pick up some spinach leaves – add these atop a sandwich or pizza for a veg boost or mix into stir fries and risottos, where the heat of a cooked meal will quickly wilt the spinach down.
When you’re really pushed for time, our SteamFresh vegetables are ready in under 10 minutes and come in a dozen different mixes. They’re ideal for introducing new flavours to the family with a boost of veg, from the Mediterranean-inspired vegetable rice to the mini mountains of sweet Romanesco broccoli.
Make meals an adventure and discover exciting new flavours together with your family. Work your way through a rainbow of colour, from bright red peppers and tomatoes to deep purple aubergines, and help your kids to explore the new textures and tastes.
Get the whole family involved in plating up a rainbow – and help them eat in full colour, with Birds Eye.