New Years Resolutions: How to eat more vegies without wanting to die

I always make lots of New Years resolutions and always forget them really quickly. But my 2016 resolution to “eat more vegies” has actually stuck with me, and I must have mentioned it to a lot of people because I was at a kid’s birthday party the other day and one of the mums told me that she often thinks of me and how she should also eat more vegies. I’m parenting the parents of my daughter’s childcare friends!

This resolution came about because whenever you see a list of top tips for not getting cancer, they tend to be: don’t smoke (haven’t touched one since The Night of Three 21st Parties, September 2002); don’t drink (haha I have two small children, if you touch my wine I will kill you); eat less red meat (haven’t eaten red meat in 8 years –> winning at this one); and eat five servings of vegies a day.

FIVE SERVINGS? (What is a ‘serving’ anyway? We all know we eat way more than the recommended ‘serving size’ on the back of the Doritos or M&Ms packet. Is it the same with vegies, am I already eating way more than I realise? Um, no. Start here for some guidance.)

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I think I mentioned in my thoughtful critique on carrots that I find this ‘five servings a day’ a particularly difficult concept to get my head around, but this year I decided I had to get around it. Mum had just had a cancer scare, the idea of dying young and missing my kids grow up makes my blood run cold, and mostly I really want to keep drinking wine without feeling guilty.

So if you have made the same resolution this year, but now it’s mid February and you’ve just counted hot chips from the pub as tonight’s vegetable, here are my top tips for getting more vegies into your day, so you too can feel smug the next time you read an article on how to avoid cancer, while avoiding any suicidal thoughts that come about because life is too short for lettuce at every meal.  (Pictures inspired by/taken from this article which always makes me laugh.)

First, eat vegies for breakfast – I started off 2016 having smoothies. YES, I KNOW, I’m a walking cliche. But really if you want an easy way to get your greens in, this is it. My basic recipe is a banana, a handful of frozen spinach portions, about 1/3 cup of oats, about 1.5 cups of milk (usually rice), a tablespoon of nut butter or LSA mix, and a bit of cinnamon. Delish. But then winter hit and I didn’t really feel like cold smoothies, and also I didn’t want a sweet breakfast every day. So now my breakfast is almost always mushrooms on toast spread with avocado. With an egg if I’m extra hungry, with some extra vegies if I have them around especially zucchini, capsicum or cherry tomatoes. It’s super delish, and no it doesn’t feel like much extra effort now that I’m used to it (plus I don’t have to clean the blender –> winning).

Don’t throw out your leftovers – sure, two florets of broccoli left on the kids’ dinner plates don’t look very appetising, but tomorrow you can chop them up and fry them in some olive oil and garlic to have with your cheese toastie, and look you added half a serve of vegies. Whenever I cook sweet potato or pumpkin I also cook some extra without seasoning and that makes a great addition to a smoothie or salad the next day.

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Buy lots of vegies and fresh herbs, and learn how to store them – I used to do a meal plan for the week’s dinners and just buy what we needed, but that meant there was nothing left for lunches or snacks. So I’ve figured out how to buy enough vegies for the week, without meal planning in advance (so I can just buy what’s fresh and cheap), and without throwing out heaps of rotten food. And I buy two or three of my favourite fresh herbs, because they are what make vegies sing. (Yes, we are attempting to grow our own.) If you buy good quality stuff and store it properly (Google is your friend), it won’t go off and you’ll have lots of options right up until the end of the week.

Don’t think you have to eat things you don’t like – I don’t much care for salads. I mean the cold crunchy kind, based around lettuce and cucumber and that kind of thing. Blah. I love salads that fill you up, particularly if they are made wholly or partly of cooked vegies – full of roast vegies and feta, or soba noodles with julienned vegies and a spicy dressing, or anything in Hetty’s books. So that’s how I eat them, because that’s what I enjoy and what makes me happy. Another thing I love is pesto, so I like turning greens into pesto (like broccoli and spinach) and then a bowl of spaghetti and pesto suddenly feels so virtuous. I also like any combination of vegies that is partial to being grilled in olive oil. But if handfuls of rocket on every meal, or simple steamed three veg,  will make you happy, then go right ahead.

Make it easy on yourself – frozen vegies are great to keep in the freezer at home or work, toss them up with your protein of choice and boom, lunch is done. The tinned tomatoes in your pasta sauce count. Jarred antipasto vegies can go on sandwiches at the end of the week when all the fresh stuff is gone. You don’t have to suddenly be creating amazing complicated meals with 100 different ingredients.

Any other tricks you’ve found that I’ve missed? Do you find it easy to get five (or even three) a day? Do you agree the Brits are cheating by counting baked beans?

Happy new year everyone, and happy eating 🙂