6 tips for eating more vegetables
You probably know the advice of the Nutrition Center to eat at least 250 grams of vegetables per day. Other experts set the minimum even higher, around 400 grams. In reality, however, we only eat about 150 grams of vegetables per day in the Netherlands! It’s a shame because vegetables are perhaps the healthiest category on your plate. If you’re not used to paying attention to your vegetables, 250 grams of vegetables probably sounds like a terrifying amount. But don’t worry; it’s easier than you think! In this blog, we give you 6 concrete tips to eat more vegetables – with recipes.
How many vegetables per day?
So there is still some debate about the exact amount of vegetables you need to live a healthy life. The Netherlands Nutrition Center recently went from 200 grams per day to 250 grams per day. However, research shows that some benefits of more vegetables only become visible if you eat 350 to 400 grams per day.
What kind of benefits are these? Well, for example, think of:
- Lower blood pressure
- Less risk of cardiovascular disease
- Less chance of cancer
- Healthier bowels and fewer bowel problems
- Better resistance
- Less chance of being overweight
- Cleaner and healthier skin
The reasons for all this: vegetables are simply packed with good substances. Much of the benefits have to do with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Also very important are the so-called phytonutrients. Even in very small amounts, these plant nutrients have a major effect on your health.
So every reason to eat more vegetables! But how do you do that?
Vegetables all day long
This will bring us to concrete, practical tips for eating more vegetables. However, the most important lesson deserves to be discussed in more detail.
The vast majority of the Dutch only eat vegetables with dinner. Not surprising that 400 grams of vegetables sound like an overwhelming amount! Because indeed: if you put it on the plate next to your potatoes and piece of meat, the meal does not necessarily feel in balance.
But why limit yourself to eating vegetables for dinner? Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are also ideal for some extra greenery. This way you also benefit at these moments from the benefits that vegetables offer: extra satiety for fewer calories and slow, stable energy that allows you to move forward a few hours.
So the best way to eat more vegetables is to pay attention to them all day long. And no, that really does not mean that you are constantly getting rid of salads. Much more is possible!
6 tips for eating more vegetables
1. Breakfast with vegetables
Many people slide in a quick peanut butter sandwich for breakfast. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but it could be so much better!
Many people opt for a sweet breakfast, and vegetables do not always fit in easily. Fruit is therefore a great healthy choice. But do you really want to go for it? Then sweeter vegetables such as carrots are a tasty option. For example with this delicious carrot curd.
Little time for breakfast? With a green smoothie, you already have some fruit and vegetables in three minutes.
And do you prefer just a good sandwich? For example, make a vegetable omelet with it! Or opt for super fast and enrich your cheese sandwich with some tomato and cucumber.
2. Make soup for lunch
You guessed it: there is also plenty to choose from at lunch. A great way to easily get in a lot of vegetables is to make a large pot of soup. Extra smart: make multiple portions and freeze them per portion. All you have to do is defrost your soup in the microwave at work.
No inspiration? You can make a soup from sweet potato, cauliflower, or bell pepper. Or make it a meal soup by adding legumes, like in this Italian soup with cannellini beans or this spicy soup with lentils.
With a nice bowl of warm soup, you already have 200 grams of vegetables. Add a wholemeal sandwich and your lunch is ready!
Eat a salad for lunch
Many people find salads boring. This is usually mainly because they only make boring salads. Because yes: three leaves of iceberg lettuce with some tomatoes and a cowardly dressing, there is indeed little to do with that.
But you can do so much more with salads! Add extra veggies, proteins, and seasonings and you have a complete meal with smells and colors for example:
- Thai salad with a delicious curry peanut dressing
- Sweet potato salad with lentils, feta, and spicy arugula
- Pasta salad with spicy sauce and tuna
- Salad with deliciously sweet mango and chicken
- Delicious summer salad with red fruit and feta
- Fresh green pasta salad with pesto
Of course, there is a lot more to do, but with this, you have a few good options to get started.
Snack with vegetables
We will not argue that a carrot with hummus gives the same feeling like a bag of paprika chips. But we do think that the difference is especially good for that carrot … Just think: after a bag of chips you often feel a bit greasy and bloated. If you snack with vegetables, it provides a lot more energy.
You can of course just nibble away some carrots, bell pepper, tomatoes, or cucumber. Do you want to make it a bit more interesting? Then serve a nice dip with the raw vegetables. Good options include cottage cheese au gratin, our spicy lentil dip, a white bean dip, or a pesto yogurt dip.
Also tasty: make a small salad. That takes no more than five minutes! Consider, for example, these one-person recipes with edamame and cheese, cucumber, and salmon or tomato and chicken fillet.
Do you really want to unpack? Then vegetable rolls and balls are tasty snacks. How about rolls with eggplant? Or these super simple feta pea balls?
5. Hide vegetables in your dinner
If you use the above tips, you are sometimes fine with the 250 grams of vegetables before it is even time for dinner. But again, more is always better! So how can you make your dinner as vegetable-rich as possible?
One trick is to not only serve vegetables loose but to ‘hide’ them in the rest of the food. And that can be done in various ways.
A popular approach is to use vegetables in sauces. These yields double the benefit: you eat extra vegetables, and because they already provide extra creaminess, you don’t have to use as much saturated fat. Tomato sauce is the usual example, but you can also serve your pasta with cauliflower sauce, pumpkin sauce, or paprika sauce.
It is also becoming increasingly popular to partly replace carbohydrates with vegetables. For example, you can use cauliflower rice for nasi or Mexican rice. Slightly less known, but just as popular, is broccoli rice.
6. Use different cooking methods
Finally, whatever you make for dinner, try treating the vegetables differently than you normally do. Many people cook their vegetables every night. However, this will make them lose a lot of flavors, and the structure will also become a bit dull.
So try something different! For example, you can fill vegetables perfectly, such as this zucchini, bell pepper, and eggplant from the oven.
Also tasty: a stir-fry. This is a great basic recipe, but you can vary endlessly with proteins, vegetables, and seasonings.
And if you really want to make your vegetables taste different, curries are excellent options! With recipes like this sweet potato curry, you hardly notice that you are eating vegetables.
Easily eat more vegetables
Eating more vegetables really does not mean that you have to get rid of a mountain of cooked carrots every night. On the contrary, it can be a great way to eat better and more creatively throughout the day! Because let’s face it, a sandwich with a raw vegetable salad or a nice soup is much better with lunch than a soggy cheese sandwich, right?
And the good news: you really don’t need that much time. For example, use the following tricks:
- Make a large pot of soup once for the entire week
- Prepare a large amount of smoothie for two or three days of breakfast
- Prepare a salad for lunch the night before (you can keep the dressing separate until you eat)
- Buy pre-cut snack vegetables (slightly more expensive, but less expensive than expensive snacks from the vending machine!)
- In the evening, cook stews, such as curries and casseroles
Perhaps each recipe takes a little more time the first two or three times. But then you have gotten into the routine and your vegetable-rich breakfast, lunch or snack is on the table within a few minutes!