The results of a comprehensive survey of the dietary habits of Australians were released this week with depressing news. Only 6.8% of Australians are eating the recommended number of serves of vegetables each day. What are the daily recommended number of serves of vegetables?
Age group # of Serves of Vegetables per day
Children aged 12-18 boys 5 1/2
Children aged 12-18 girls 5
Children aged 9-11 5
Children aged 4-8 4 1/2
Children aged 2-3 2 1/2
One serving equals a 1/2 cup cooked vegetables, 1/2 a medium potato (french fries and chips don’t count!) or 1 cup of raw vegetables like salad.
So how do you get enough serves of vegetables each day? Don’t wait until dinner because it is hard to fit them all in one meal. One way I get my family to meet the recommendations is to roast up a big batch of veggies on Sunday night, store them in a container in the refrigerator, and use them each day to create quick and healthy meals. I promise you, this is a HUGE time saver.
Start with a variety of vegetables. Choose the rainbow and try to pick what’s in season. You can change the mix each week to keep it interesting.
Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F) fan forced. Peel and chop the vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (I used 1/2 cup for this big bowl, but it depends on the quantity of veggies you are roasting). Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon iodised salt. Toss well.
Spread the veggies out in one layer on two trays.
Place trays in preheated oven and roast for 1 hour. Give veggies a stir after 30 minutes to help them cook evenly.Store the veggies in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should keep for 5 days.
Ways to use roasted veggies – for breakfast, lunch and dinner:
*Make a roasted veggie salad. Toss veggies with rocket or lettuce leaves, pumpkin seeds, feta and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and caramelized balsamic vinegar.
*Use as a base for quick soups and stews.
*Tuck roasted veggies into omelettes for breakfast.
*Add roast veggies to a wrap. I usually add brown rice, cooked lentils, hummus or tuna, and a bit of feta. I toast my wraps in a sandwich press which keeps it together and makes it crispy and delicious! Top with lettuce/rocket and tomatoes and you have even more servings of vegetables.
*Make Huevos Rancheros for breakfast. Heat up a corn tortilla, spread over some refried black beans, add roast veggies and top with a fried egg and avocado slices.
*Use roast veggies in a lasagna.
*Top a wholemeal pizza crust with roast vegetables and make a delicious pizza.
*Toss roast veggies through whole grain pasta. Chuck in a can of canellini beans and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
*Or just add them as a side dish to your main dinner.
Why are so many servings of vegetables recommended?
There is strong evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. A study in the Journal of Human Hypertension found that increased consumption of fruit and vegetables from less than 3 to more than 5 servings a day was related to a 17% reduction in coronary heart disease risk. See that study here.
The DASH study found that people with high blood pressure who followed a DASH diet, high in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy reduced their systolic blood pressure by about 11 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure by almost 6 mm Hg—as much as medications can achieve. See the DASH study here.
The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) states that there is strong evidence that vegetables, fruits and other foods containing dietary fibre (such as wholegrains and pulses) protect against a range of cancers including mouth, stomach and bowel cancer. They also help to protect against weight gain and obesity.See the WCRF website here.