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How to: Get your five a day – it's time to veg out

Posted by Amy

You all know the drill, five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day according to official guidelines.

You're probably also aware that for most people, this appears to be a rather fruitless (ahem) mission, with just 9% of us managing this daily intake.

I mean let's be honest, by the time you've had your cornflakes for breaky and ham sandwich for lunch, how on earth do you rack up five portions of vegetables before the end of the day?

Ah, okay, I think I might have stumbled onto my biggest problem, and in fact, the obvious solution; veg out all day (or to be crystal clear, eat vegies throughout the day, not just at dinner time).

Consuming five serves of vegetables each day, every day, can be a pretty daunting prospect for a lot of people. Many of us have busy lives, juggling work and family, social engagements and (hopefully) exercise, so getting the right amount of vegie intake can quickly fall down our list of priorities until it's somewhere beneath making time for a quick takeaway burger between work and bookclub.  

Of course with the so-called ‘Silly Season' approaching, this is only going to get harder with parties to enjoy every other week. So how do you load up your vegie intake before dinner?

Whoever said vegies weren't for breakfast?? If sautéeing spinach seems like a tad too much effort on your average Monday morning, how about mixing some rhubarb with your yoghurt, adding beets to a smoothie or even whipping up a mushroom omelette? If you're clever enough to think ahead (and you own a bread maker) why not throw some zucchini in with your dough and wake up to the delicious smell of freshly baked zucchini bread? If this still sounds too hard, your basic avo on toast (with some cracked pepper and squeeze of lemon for easy decadence) is quick and delicious. We're willing to ignore the fact that avocado is technically a fruit if you are.

If you just can't accept the idea of vegies for breakfast, getting your five a day over lunch and dinner is very doable. Why not try adding some delicious, colourful salad ingredients to your ham sandwich like tomato, cucumber, mushroom, spinach and grated carrot. Approximately 1 cup of salad equals one of your 5 daily portions. (Tip: think about giving ham the miss altogether from time to time, as research shows eating processed meat can increase your risk of developing bowel cancer).

Soup! It may not traditionally be the season for it, but soup (particularly homemade, vegetable-based soup) is a tasty, nutritious way to increase your vegie intake at lunch (or dinner of course). Vegie soups combine a high nutrient density with a low energy density – this means that we get lots of key nutrients for relatively few kilojoules. So buy a good-quality piece of Tupperware and enjoy your tasty, healthy soup at work.

If you're still struggling to get to five, why not try some vegie-based snacks between your main meals. Carrot or celery sticks with hommus (made from chick-peas of course) is a quick and healthy snack that doesn't take a lot of time or equipment to prepare so perfect for home or the office.

Of course there are hundreds of other ways to get your five a day. What are your ideas?

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