A common, age-old question when it comes to nutrition remains—Are we getting enough fruits and vegetables in our diets?
According to Nutrition Australia, Australians of all ages on average have a poor diet—which includes insufficient daily consumption of vegetables. In fact, only 4% of Australians eat their recommended amount of vegetables each day. This includes 5-6 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit.
So we need to know easy ways to try for five servings of vegetables each day. This includes learning about food waste management and breaking stereotypical vegetable consumption habits.
Here to explain how she gets more out of her veggies is Eloise Wellings—who is a two-time Olympian, three-time Commonwealth Games athlete, philanthropist, Ubiquinol ambassador, and mum extraordinaire. Between her many responsibilities on and off the track—she’s a strong believer in healthy eating, and that includes getting vegetables and energy boosting ingredients into her diet as much as possible.
Eloise gives us a break down on her top tips:
1. Embrace ‘ugly’ vegetables
It is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of fresh fruit and vegetables in Australia are deemed as ‘waste’ before it even leaves the farm due to imperfections. There are now options in grocery stores, online food delivery companies, and even people growing their own vegetables who are embracing that ugly vegetables are equally as nutritious, more economical and better for the environment. According to Eloise, “I’ll often go with this option as I know I’m doing my part to reduce waste, am saving money and am still getting the same nutritional benefits as the more polished and prettier versions on display in grocery stores.”
“Including these bits and bobs of vegetables that you wouldn’t think to include add more flavour and creativity to my cooking,” says Eloise.
2. Harness alternative food storage techniques
When it comes to making sure you are getting enough fruit and veg in your diet, one of the hardest problems is eating your fresh produce in time before it goes bad. A lot of this can be avoided by knowing where vegetables and fruit should be stored, and which should be kept separate from each other. While it isn’t toxic to humans, ethylene gas, also known as ‘fruit ripening gas’ is the main culprit for the quick ripening and rotting of produce. A general rule of thumb is to store produce at 4°C, including most leafy green vegetables, especially if they have been cut or peeled. A few other examples Eloise swears by includes:
- Apples give off ethylene gas, so it is advised to keep them away from your other produce on your countertop or in the fridge.
- Berries and mushrooms shouldn’t be washed until you are prepared to eat them, as they are delicate and should be otherwise stored in a fridge in a dry container to keep them from rotting and getting soft.
- Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature in a shady area of your kitchen, as they will rot in the sunlight or in the fridge.
3. Buy only what you need
One of the reasons that vegetables and fruits go to waste is that sometimes we buy too much of it and simply can’t keep up with eating it all. Depending on if there’s a local grocer nearby and you’ve got the time— going to collect fresh produce each day for a meal can be a great way to get some exercise, but it also ensures you are getting the produce in its freshest state. “This is a great option for me to get some fresh air and fresh ingredients, it also gets me excited about the meal I’m about to prepare for myself and my family,” Eloise comments.
4. When veggies start to turn, use them for hot dishes
They may not be as pretty as freshly bought produce—but fruit and vegetables that are starting to wilt can still make for great, hot nutritious meals. While produce that smells, is mushy or has visible signs of rot or mould should be tossed out—fruit and vegies that don’t have these signs of spoilage are safe and have great potential for a second meal life. This could include hot dishes like pizza, pasta, soups, broths or even desserts! Try putting capsicum, mushroom and onion that are looking wilted on top of a pizza for an extra kick of textures and flavour, or do a vegetable round up in a hot and delicious veggie casserole. Over ripe bananas make a tasty and nutrient rich banana bread, while apples that are starting to brown can be used for a flavour packed apple pie. Eloise comments, “There are so many options with these aged and undesired fruit and vegies that often end up in the bin—they’ve still got a lot of nutritious life in them!”
5. Get more out of your veggie intake through natural supplementation
While achieving your daily recommended vegetable and fruit intake each day is the goal—some people find natural supplementation can also boost your body’s ability to get the most energy and nutrients out of their diet. Options for this include Ubiquinol (the active form of CoQ10)—it is a potent antioxidant found naturally in our bodies and supports healthy energy synthesis.