5 tips to stick to your resolution and eat more plants
Are you making plans to eat healthier and pack more plants into your diet this year? Now is a great time to start, especially as most New Zealanders don't eat enough vegetables.
If you find yourself giving up on your resolutions just a few weeks into the year (you’re not alone!), we’ve got 5 easy and realistic tips to help you get more plants on your plate and make your health goals stick.
1. Eat the rainbow
Eating a rainbow of coloured fruits and vegetables helps you get the variety of nutrients you need for a healthy body. This is because they contain phytonutrients, compounds that give plants their vibrant colours as well as their unique tastes and aromas.
Research shows that diets including a variety of fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and may be protective against certain types of cancers.
So this year, make it your goal to eat a rainbow. Each day try to include plant foods from the five different colour categories: red, purple/blue, orange, green and white/brown and see how great your body starts to feel.
2. Embrace the unfamiliar
During your quest to eat the rainbow, say yes to new fruits and vegetables this year. Set yourself a task of picking a new or never tried fruit or vegetable every week for a month (or longer!) and incorporate them into your weekly food plan.
Put previously disliked veggies you haven’t eaten in a while on the list too. It is completely possible to train your tastebuds to enjoy foods you previously didn’t, just like training a muscle at the gym. In the meantime, understanding how to hack your tastebuds can get you trying these veggies again.
So, when you’re at the supermarket don’t just push your trolley past the shiitake mushrooms or rocket leaves, pick them up, find a recipe and give them a go. You’ll be surprised at how fun this game can be and you can even get the kids involved. In just a few weeks you’ll discover new veggies that’ll become family favourites, bringing a variety of tastes and health benefits to your diet.
Research also supports the benefits of a varied diet in improving the diversity of your gut bacteria. Where there is a high diversity of bacteria, your gut is healthy and resilient too!
3. Mix it up with new techniques
Blanching, braising, grilling, roasting, shredding, steaming, stir frying…there are so many ways to prepare vegetables. If you find yourself cooking a vegetable or eating a fruit the same way every time, why not make this your year to mix things up and expand your cooking repertoire.
Let’s take the Brussels sprout, for example – a vegetable which is often loved or loathed. Rather than re-creating the over-boiled version from your childhood, try another technique that we guarantee will change your perspective on these green balls of goodness. You can try roasting them, shaving them into a salad or frying them until caramelised like in this soba noodle salad.
4. Make friends with frozen veg
Frozen veggies could be your answer to eating more plants this year. They are conveniently waiting for you in the freezer whenever you need to whip up a quick meal – no washing, chopping, or peeling needed. They are also affordable and last longer, meaning they are less likely to end up soggy at the bottom of the fridge.
If you’re worried about nutrient quality in frozen veg – don’t be! Frozen vegetables are just as healthy as fresh vegetables and in some cases even healthier. This is because they are usually harvested at peak ripeness, then frozen straight away maintaining maximum nutrients. But to make sure all these nutrients make it to your mouth, the cooking method also needs to be considered. Methods like boiling can lead to nutrient losses, especially of water soluble vitamins, while steaming and microwaving retain more of the nutrients.
Subscribe to Wholicious Living to stay up-to-date with the latest health and nutrition advice.
5. Get a veggie box delivery
Make life that little bit easier and get a box of veggies ordered to your door each week. It’s an easy and convenient way to make sure you always have veggies in the house without even needing to hit the shops. And better still, it means you’ll be eating seasonally and adding to your diet diversity.
A veggie box will provide you with good quality, and usually, locally grown produce. By sourcing directly from farmers, you will not only be saving yourself a few dollars, you’ll also help to support food growing in your area.
If a lucky dip of veggies is too overwhelming for you, many veggie box businesses let you curate your own, or consider splitting a box with a friend.
If you need some inspiration on how to use up all these rainbow fruits and veggies this year, check out our easy, affordable and tasty recipe collections.