How to Eat 8-Plus Serves of Vegetables (and Fruit) Every Day
When it comes to discussing nutrition and what we should be eating to maximise our health, it seems like everybody has an opinion.
Eat more (quality) meat. No, eat less meat. Actually, try vegetarian. High carb’ is good. Low carb’ is better, but keto’ is best. High fat is the way. I prefer low fat. Less sugar, please. Mediterranean. French. Okinawa. Ancestral…
This nutrition gig can get really confusing!
The one thing everyone agrees on – regardless of their flavour of dietary preference – is that we should all be eating more vegetables. And it seems 8-plus serves is the magic number.
Here’s what my friend and health mentor, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne has to say about the mighty vegetable:
That’s a pretty impressive incentive to eat at least 8-plus serves of vegetables every day, don’t you think?
But hold on one tick – before we get onto the topic of how we get 8-plus serves of veggies into our day on a regular basis…
What exactly is a serve?
In order to set a goal of eating at 8-plus serves of vegetables (and fruit) each day, we need to understand what a serve consists of, don’t we?
To answer this question, let’s head to the World Health Organisation. WHO defines 1 serve as 80g of raw vegetable or fruit. (That’s a smidge under 3 ounces.)
Of course, it’s not always realistic for us to get our scales out whenever we’re counting our vegetable intake. Loosely speaking, 80g is the equivalent of:
- 1 cup of raw vegetables
- ½ cup of cooked vegetables
- 2 cups of raw leafy greens
- 1 medium-sized piece of fruit or 2 small pieces of fruit
- ½ cup of berries or chopped fruit
- ½ cup of berries or cooked fruit
So, How DO You Eat 8-Plus Serves of Vegetables (and Fruit) Every Day?
Here are some of the ways I get in my 8-plus serves a day:
Make it a practice of looking for ways to add more vegetables to your plate. When you’re planning your meal, set a goal of adding one more vegetable than you have planned.
When it comes to adding vegetables, think breakfast (yes – breakfast!), lunch, dinner and snacks. To make your target of 8+ cups every day, do yourself a favour and add vegetables to every meal. This No Recipe Breakfast Hash is my go-to breakfast of choice.
Layer your meals. Aim to have 3/4 of your meal as vegetables. Ideally, this should be a diverse mix of as many different vegetables as possible to maximise the nutrient density of your meal. Think ‘eat a rainbow’ (like you find in this SUPERFOOD Slaw recipe). Consider a side of guacamole– avocados are high in finer which is GREAT news.
Challenge yourself to try a new, previously untried vegetable every week. This is a great way to increase both your vegetable intake and your nutrient density. Have you tasted Jerusalem artichokes? – they are a great prebiotic. What about the sexy-ugly kohlrabi? – wonderfully versatile. Daikon makes a beautifully funky addition to Golden Kraut.
Establish routines to support your veggie habit. Some of my favourites are:
- the leafy greens kitchen hack
- Make a big tray of Roasted Vegetables at least once each week
- Create a signature green sauce (it tastes great on almost everything!)
- Learn to ferment your own vegetables and add some to your plate every time you’re having a savoury meal.
- Make a practice of making a pureed vegetable soup every week. If you grab a copy of my Soup Equation, you don’t even need a recipe. (It’s free!)
- Add microgreens and herbs as a garnish to your meal for an extra hit of nutrients
- Try my friend, Stephanie’s Healing Green Broth. Better yet, take her 30-day challenge (it’s free, too!) The best mid-afternoon pick-me-up around.
- Get in the habit of adding leafy greens to hash, braises, casseroles and stews. This Osso Buco recipe is a favourite ‘one-pot wonder’ at my place.
- Hide grated or shredded vegetables in meatballs, meatloaves and burgers. This Meatloaf with Hidden Veggies from my mate, Mickey is a great one to try.