Ideas for including more vegetables in your meals.

Increasing your vegetable intake to 50% of your meals may seem difficult if you are not used to it. Try out the ideas below to maximise your vegetable intake everyday.

Salads – Add protein for a great lunch or main, or use salad as a starter or side to maximise your raw vegetable intake.

Salads can be more than just cucumber, lettuce and tomato. Try adding vegetables from this list to make them a bit more exciting:

  • Spinach leaves, watercress, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce, little gem lettuce.
  • Celery
  • Beetroot
  • Baby tomatoes, tomatoes
  • Grated or thinly sliced carrots
  • Cold steamed asparagus
  • Cold steamed broccoli
  • Bell peppers
  • Spring onions, Spanish onions, red onions
  • Raw green beans, mange tout, snow peas, sugar snap peas.
  • Pickled onions and gherkins
  • Radishes
  • Cucumber

Make sure you count the calories on these additions:

  • Olives
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Sweetcorn
  • Edamame beans

Soups – make a great lunch with crispbreads or Ryvita dipped or crumbled in. Use soup as a starter to bring extra vegetables into your meal too.

Soups are as easy as throwing vegetables and a little protein into some boiling water and cooking until everything is soft enough to blend. Add some stock, salt and pepper and some mixed herbs.

  • Two medium potatoes
  • 2-3 carrots
  • One leek
  • Onion
  • Garlic clove
  • Handful of peas
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Sprinkle of mixed herbs
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Teaspoon turmeric (optional)
  • One butternut squash (cut in half and bake in the oven until soft – it’s easier to scoop out the middle)
  • Onion
  • Garlic clove
  • Vegetable stock
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 level teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 level teaspoon of coriander powder
  • Sprinkle of coriander herbs
  • Sprinkle of chilli if you like a bit of heat
  • One pound of carrots
  • One heaped teaspoon of turmeric
  • Onion
  • Garlic clove
  • Vegetable stock
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Fresh coriander (added to the blended soup while it’s still hot)

If you prefer a chunkier soup, take out half of the contents before blending everything else and stir back together once your blended base is ready.

Try not to go overboard with the bread.

Stir-fried vegetables are fast and taste amazing. These make a fantastic side or even eat as a snack.

We use the smallest amount of oil in this recipe. The big player for flavour is garlic and you can get adventurous adding chilli powder, paprika, smoked paprika or Cajun spices – however you like them.

Choose your vegetables. You can buy prepared stir-fry vegetables in the fresh produce section of the supermarket or use frozen. Try out the following as a suggestion.

  • Frozen broccoli
  • Frozen whole green beans
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen sweetcorn
  • Fresh mushrooms
  • Fresh onions
  • Take all the frozen vegetables and place in a microwaveable container with a lid (leave the lid slightly loose). Cook in the microwave on full power for ten minutes. Alternatively, steam in a pan for ten minutes.
  • When the vegetables are part cooked, add one teaspoon of olive oil to a large frying pan and heat on a medium hot temperature. Add the vegetables, turning constantly.
  • Add the onions and mushrooms.
  • Just before the end of cooking add a crushed clove of garlic (or two) and stir in. Sprinkle in your herbs and spices and stir.
  • If the vegetables char slightly when you cook them, that’s even better – just don’t let the garlic burn.

Get used to snacking on raw vegetables – the powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.

  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery sticks
  • Raw whole green beans
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Mange tout
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Baby corns
  • Pepper slices
  • Cucumber sticks

Crush garlic, chop some fresh mint, grate cucumber and stir into natural yoghurt for a tzatziki or use a tablespoon of low fat cream cheese and chives as a dip.

Steam your vegetables in the microwave – this retains the most nutrition.

It is usually a surprise for people to learn that steaming your vegetables in a loose lid container in the microwave is the best way to retain the nutrients.

It is actually the cooking process that breaks down nutrients, so the faster you cook, the more you keep.

If you are steaming from frozen, you don’t need to add water. If you are cooking fresh, just a small amount in a container with a lid is all you need (think half a mug).