There is much debate and loads of conflicting advice regarding macronutrients – protein, fats and carbohydrates. The ideal sources and quantities of these nutrients is a complex matter and depends on many factors such as your current body condition, how your body responds to certain foods, your health/fitness goals and your training regime/activity levels.
However, when it comes to eating vegetables and in particular green leafy vegetables, the advice is more simple – EAT PLENTY OF THEM ON A DAILY BASIS!!
I’m sure everyone reading this will have heard the advice to eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Please note that this is a general minimum recommendation and I personally would advise eating more when it comes to vegetables. Try to include them with most of your meals and eat a variety of colours so that you get a balance of nutrients.
We all know that vegetables are good for us, but many people fail to take them seriously and still ignore advice to eat them regularly. Vegetables are so important because they provide the majority of vitamins and minerals that are vital to our bodily functions. These processes include bone formation, blood formation, hormone function, energy release and neuromuscular function. The processes also fight against disease and prevent serious conditions later in life such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
Many of us experience the common issues of modern life such as stress, anxiety, nervousness, fatigue, depression and disturbed sleep. Many people also now suffer with stomach disturbances, muscle pain, skin irritation and eye problems. We then use a variety of pills and creams to try and solve the problems without really looking into what is causing them. These conditions are all symptoms of particular vitamin and mineral deficiency, so if any of them apply to you then take a good look at your diet.
I highlighted green vegetables because they provide the widest variety of vitamins and minerals, so make sure you start including broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach etc. into your diet. However, different vegetables contain different nutrients and our bodies need a supply of every type, so the greater variety you eat the better. Avoid overcooking vegetables because this removes many of the nutrients, so steam or stir fry instead of boil, or even better eat them raw. If you have the time and money then try to buy local, seasonal and organic – this will maximise nutrient quantity and avoid all the harmful chemicals added to preserve food.
If you don’t like vegetables then get inventive! Taste buds can be changed so keep trying them in different recipes, adding a small amount first then building them up as your palette develops. Being lazy with your diet is just as bad as being lazy with regards to exercise!
Two of the quickest and easiest meals to pack a load of veg into are stir fries and omelettes. If you are stuck for ideas then try the following recipes:
Chicken stir fry (vegetarians can leave out chicken or use quorn instead)
Heat small amount of oil (preferably coconut) in a wok or pan
Add an onion and fry until soft
Add chicken breast cut into strips or chunks and fry until browned
Add grated ginger, chopped garlic and chopped red chilli
Add a variety of veg such as shredded cabbage, chopped kale, sliced mushrooms, carrot peelings, sliced peppers, chopped broccoli etc.
Add splash of fish sauce, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a tablespoon of soy sauce, small squeeze of honey, ½ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice, cinnamon, paprika and cumin
Add 50-100ml of veg stock and stir
Simmer until chicken is cooked through
Take off heat and add a squeeze of lime and chopped coriander
Stir though and serve with wholegrain rice or quinoa
Heat small amount of coconut oil or organic butter in a frying pan
Add an onion and cooked until softened
Add shredded cabbage plus sliced peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms
Cooked for few mins until veg starts to soften
Add crumbled feta, a handful of spinach, a squeeze of lemon
Crack 3-4 eggs into a bowl, season and whisk
When spinach has wilted and feta starts to melt, add eggs and swirl around pan
Cooked for couple of minutes then place under preheated grill to finish
Thanks for reading!