Green vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and chlorophyl, they are fabulous for keeping our bones strong, and are also relatively low in calories.
Greens are also great source of antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties to boost our immune systems and fight off bacteria and disease, and contain fibre which is great for our digestive health.
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults should be consuming 5-6 servings of vegetables and legumes per day. 1 serve is approximately equivalent to 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables, such as broccoli, pumpkin, sweet potato, 1/2 cup of lentils and beans, or 1 cup of leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, kale.
Most Australians don't meet their requirements everyday, however vegetables, in particular greens are a corner stone to our health.
Here are a few ways to increase your vegetable intake daily:
Add some greens to your smoothie
Spinach and Kale are great in smoothies. You can hardly taste them and its easy to get a cup in there. 1 serve done!
Include veggies at breakfast
Stack your omelette full of veggies, add sides of mushroom and avocado, grate carrot or zucchini into your oats, add spinach to protein pancakes (see recipe below).
Eat a salad at every meal
Make sure you have a cup of salad at lunch and dinner. Its a small side, with all the important vitamins and minerals that will help you feel amazing.
Grate and Add
Grate up any vegetable, carrot, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, leafy greens, and add to pasta dishes, frittata and quiches, homemade muffins, hamburgers... anything!
Eat three different vegetables at dinner
A variety of vegetables will give you a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Aim for a serving of greens, then a serving of red and yellow.
I really encourage you to eat as many vegetables as you can, particulary greens, aiming for a minimum of 5 serves. You will be amazed at how great you feel, and also begin to crave them if you miss them for a few days.
Try my Spinach Protein Pancakes Recipe!
Spinach Protein Pancakes
3 cups spinach leaves
2 scoops vanilla protein
1/2 cup almond milk
2 tbsp coconut flour
2 tbsp flax meal
1 pinch baking powder
2 tbsp coconut yoghurt
2 tsp honey
2 tsp chai seeds
2 sprinkles of coconut flakes
Coconut oil (for cooking)
In a blender, blend the together the spinach, eggs, protein, almond milk, coconut flour, flax meal and baking powder until smooth.
Heat coconut oil in a fry pan over a moderate heat.
Divide the pancake mixture into four, spoon into the pan and cook the pancakes on each side until brown.
To serve, stack two pancakes on your plate, top with a tbsp of coconut yoghurt, a tsp of honey, and chia seeds and coconut flakes sprinkled on top.
Do you find yourself smiling a little more when the weather gets a little warmer and the sun begins to shine? I know I do!
For years we have been told to cover up in the sun to reduce our risk of developing skin cancer, which is true. However we should not completely shun the sun! A little exposure to sunlight is actually good for us.
UV rays from the sun stimulate the production of Vitamin D in our bodies. Vitamin D is essential to the smooth running of our bodies vital functions, particularly keeping our bones strong and boosting our immune system.
Why we should all get a little sunlight...
Keeps your bones strong - Vitamin D stimulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which helps to keep our bones strong.
Makes you happy - your brain produces more serotonin on sunny days. Serotonin is the bodies natural happy hormone.
Improves your memory - Vitamin D also spurs nerve cell growth in the part of the brain responsible for forming, organising and storing memories.
Improves your immune system - Sunlight encourages the production of white blood cells. White blood cells play a key role in fighting disease and defending against infection.
Improves your quality of sleep - Sunlight tells your body it's daytime and you should be awake. This helps to maintain normal circadian rhythm, so that when it is dark, your body is given the signal to make you feel tired and get ready to sleep. So in short, sunlight exposure keeps your body clock in check, which should give you a better quality of sleep at night time.
Although you can get Vitamin D from foods such as oily fish, fortified dairy and eggs, many of us do not eat these foods every single day. Therefore experts recommend that you spend between 5 - 15 minutes everyday in the sunlight to boost your Vitamin D, depending on your skin colour and tolerance to sun exposure.