3 ways to easily increase your vegie intake

March 18, 2016
Lyndall McAlpine

We all know an increased intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables reduce risks of degenerate diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. If you have a hard time eating many, or a wide enough variety of vegetables then juices, smoothies and soups are an easy way to virtually guarantee reaching your daily target for vegetables.


Vegetable juice

Juices are a great way to give your body a boost of instant nutrients. When juice is separated from the fibre of fruits and vegetables, it is easier for your body to absorb all the nutrients, giving you an instant boost of energy.

What type? The Cold Pressed juicer is mostly favoured over blending or centrifugal high speed juicer because some say the heat generated from the fast-spinning blades destroy the enzymes and nutrients in the vegetables – but hey any juicing is better than none so if you have any old juicer or like blending keep it up!

Vegetables, not fruits, should be the main ingredients – yes fruit is healthy but we should only be “eating” fruit as once you have taken out the fibre most fruit is high in sugar and will spike your blood sugar. To sweeten up your juice, throw in low-sugar items such as lemon, lime, berries or green apple instead of fruits that are higher on the glycaemic scale. If your taste buds need that sweetness try to wean yourself off using higher GI fruit by reducing your portions each few days until you are enjoying the natural sweetness of the vegies…or try my 10 Day Detox, it really changes your taste buds and you don’t need things to be as sweet.

It is important to note that vegetable juice has very little protein and virtually no fat, so on a juice-only diet you may not get enough fibre or protein to make you full, and not getting enough protein could also mean you lose muscle mass. As it is not really a complete food juices should be used in addition to your regular meals (with your meal or as a between meal snack) not in place of them. Otherwise you can make your juice more balanced by adding protein and fat. Some good sources are almond milk, full cream Greek yogurt (no added sugar), freshly ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, avocado, eggs, coconut oil, nut butter and good quality (no sugar or added baddies) protein powder.

I feel the only other negative to juicing is wasting the valuable parts, such as skins and fibre. I use the pulp:

  • as compost on my vegie patch,
  • it makes great stock – Put the vegie pulp straight in saucepan with water covering and simmer for 10-20 minutes, then strain and reserve the stock, putting it in the freezer for next time I need stock.
  • and have also experimented with cooking – Add it to savoury muffin or patty batter,… recipe and photo coming soon

I know it seems such a pain to do and clean up but with a few simple time saver tips you may be pleasantly surprised to find that it is much easier than you thought:

  • At the beginning of your week buy, wash and sort daily portions of your fave juice ingredients into 5 plastic bags and pop in fridge. Then each day all you have to do is grab one bag and start juicing
  • Wash the juicer before you drink the juice, it cleans much easier when fresh and also then you can relax and enjoy you juice.
  • Juice whenever is best for you – get up 5 minutes earlier and have first thing in the morning, grab a juice at lunch ( just make sure it is fresh juice from real vegies, not a pre-packaged, sugar loaded concoction). I juice about 3pm hen I used to reach for a coffee and have now made this a healthier habit I really look forward to. My very favourite juice when out is celery, carrot, ginger and 1/4 of an orange but I add other vegies for variety.
  • Juice starts oxidising quite quickly and does not keep well so it’s best to drink immediately – but a few hours old juice is better than none!

Basics juice staples are : (but you can add whatever you love)

  • Celery – use the leaves and upper branches for juicing leaving the stalks for salads, cooking or snacks. Very rich in vitamin K and also contains folate, vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin C
  • Carrots – rich in beta-carotenesparingly as higher in GI
  • ginger – a must for flavour (adds a little “kick”!) and health (research shows it’s beneficial for cardiovascular health, including preventing atherosclerosis, lowering cholesterol levels, and preventing the oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL).
  • tomatojuices up well. Excellent source vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, and vitamin K. They are also a very good source of copper, potassium, manganese, beta-carotene, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus.
  • cucumber – adds lots of liquid. Vitamin K, B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, calcium and manganese
  • kale or spinach – Kale is high in vitamin K, A, C, manganese, copper. Spinach – Vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.
  • Lemons and Limes: great when in season for added vitamin c and also eliminating the bitter taste of dark, deep green leafy vegetables
  • Cranberries: Researchers have discovered that cranberries have five times the antioxidant content of broccoli, which means they may protect against cancer, stroke and heart disease. In addition, they are chock-full of phytonutrients, and can help women avoid urinary tract infections. Use sparingly for GI.
  • beetroot is a wonderful juicing vegie. High in vitamin C, potassium and manganese also  B vitamin. Support detoxification and help to purify your blood and your liver. Nitrates in beetroots help to lower blood pressure.

Unfortunately most of these vegies are high on the dirty dozen list so it would be wise to only buy these vegetables if they are organically grown. If organic is not available or in your budget please see here for tips on removing pesticides


Green spinach smoothie in glass jar


The blender/”Nutribullet” style smoothie –  takes longer for the body to take in the nutrients and the process may destroy some enzymes, but smoothies have the bonus of adding fibre, you can include avocados, bananas etc in with the lot plus you can add your choice of protein, and also seeds and nuts for extra good fats and nutrients.

Beware of the bought smoothies! They can have a whopping 80 grams of sugar, 350 calories or more, little protein, and often no fresh fruit. Fruit concentrates are often used instead of fresh fruit. And sorbet, ice cream, and sweeteners can make these no better than a milkshake. Ask for fresh fruit only, low-fat yogurt, milk, or protein powder to blend in protein and good nutrition.


A bowl of tomato soup gaspacho with basil, tomatoes and garlic

“Souping” is now becoming the new thing. Because it’s mostly vegetables, the sugar content is lower and because soup is eaten rather than drunk, it can feel like more of a meal. Although some vegetables sensitive micronutrients become damaged when heated, some vegies such as tomatoes actually increase their nutritional availability when cooked.

A Few recipes that a chock full of vegies:

Aideen’s Carrot and Basil Soup is delicious

 Chicken and Vegie Soup my year round staple (my avg is 1/week!) is easy and versatile. I have been know to have it for breakfast! and can often go without the chicken

Cauliflower Mash – a great alternative to mashed potato

Cauliflower rice – a great alternative to fried white rice


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