The benefits of eating a diet rich in vegetables are many-from lowering cholesterol, controlling sugar levels, aiding weight loss, fighting cancer to relieving constipation. However, most dietitians still feel that the common man is not eating enough vegetables to get the full benefits.
The question in most people’s mind: How much vegetable should one consume in day?
The answer is around 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits/day. That would mean around 4-5 cups of fruits and vegetables, which is a lot. Most of us tend to eat not more than 1-2 cups/day. So how does one achieve eating the recommended amounts?
I always advocate eating foods in a form that is as close to how it’s found in nature as this requires the body to break it down which takes time. The longer it takes for the body to digest food, the longer it stays in your stomach thus keeping you fuller for a longer period of time. So it’s best to eat your vegetables as salads or sabzi’s (don’t overcook them as that would kill all the nutrients). In addition to eating them as salads or sabzi’s,
Here are some tips to sneak in more vegetables into your diet:
1. Add vegetables to dishes which you would normally not do so -instead of plain upma, kichidi, poha, noodles, pasta, dal, add some mixed veggies into these dishes and you make them more nutritious and a filling dish.
2. Add grated veggies to any dish-you can add grated carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot, etc to roti’s, chutney’s, chaats, dosa, idli and even salads. Try sprinkling some grated vegetables like carrots on top of dishes as a garnish-it makes the dish more colourful and inviting.
3. Add a salad with every meal-these need not be limited to just cucumber and tomatoes. A lot more vegetables like beetroot, radish, methi leaves, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, knol-khol/kohlrabi, turnips, and capsicum/bell pepper can be eaten raw. Pulses and legumes and even some grains can be sprouted and added to the salads (like wheat, methi seeds, moong/mung, channa,etc). To avoid boredom, try out 3 different salads every week. You could even mix fruits and vegetables together to make some exotic combinations.
4. Add vegetable purees-to soups, curries, chapathi dough, dosa batter.
5. Add chopped/sliced veggies to sandwiches, wraps, bhel puri, fruit chaats.
6. Make dips with vegetables/fruits-avocado, cucumber, mint, cilantro/coriander leaves, pumpkin, apple, strawberries, figs, etc can all be made into tasty dips. These can be also used as spreads on whole wheat breads and phulkas to make healthy snacks.
7. Eat raw vegetables for snacks– carrots, celery, parsnips can be paired with the fruit/vegetable dips to get double the vegetables!
8. Add veggies to meat/poultry/fish curries. Even scrambled eggs taste better when you add some sautéed veggies like tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and capsicum/bell pepper!
9. Make chutney’s with vegetables/fruits-you don’t have to limit chutneys to just coriander/cilantro or mint. Try making chutneys from brinjal/eggplant, tomatoes, onions, apples, carrots, etc .Eat them with your meals or add them to your salads, breads, yogurts to create a unique dish!
10. Make your own veg+fruit smoothies– mix and match veggies with some sweet fruits to make your own smoothies/juices. The pulp contains the fiber-so do not to strain it out.