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Most of us are at home a lot more and not eating out at the moment. From a nutritional viewpoint, now is the perfect time to experiment with cooking, focus on quality meals to optimise immunity as we head into winter.

Try to embrace meal times around the table and even get the kids up to help make some simple family meals.

One of the first things we can do to improve our nutrition and optimise immunity is to increase our vegetable intake, whether it be fresh, frozen or canned, and eat a rainbow of colours for a range of nutrients.

Alarmingly, the latest snapshot of our country’s health revealed that nearly all Australians are not eating enough vegetables. Australia's Health 2018 report found more than 99% of children and 96% of adults don’t eat the recommended intake of five serves of vegetables a day!

Whilst 5 serves a day is recommended, countries with the healthiest diets on average enjoy more than 7 serves of veggies every single day.

Our Dietitian, Kate, has put together some handy tips for you to up your veggie intake:

Include veggies at breakfast

Add a handful or two of green leaves, such as baby spinach, or sautéed mushrooms and tomato to your eggs on toast.

Beans, beans, the magical legume…

Don’t forget an old Aussie fave, baked beans. Enjoy ½ to 1 cup of warm beans on toast to boost veggie, protein and fibre intake.

Prioritise veggies at lunch and dinner

This could be adding a soup starter now the weather is cooler or always ensuring around 2 cups of veggies or salad are served alongside usual meals.

Dress it up

Try adding a tasty dressing to salads and veggies. Think about extra virgin olive oil and other flavours, like balsamic glaze, honey-mustard creations or gravy, sauces, even cheese (think broccoli-cauliflower gratin).

Legumes and pulses are veggies too!

Enjoy a small tin of four bean mix as a snack or add lentils to bulk up casseroles and stews.

Keep your finger on the pulse

Try pulse pasta, made from chickpeas and other legumes as an alternative to traditional wheat-based pasta. You’ll find pulse pasta in the pasta section of the supermarket.

The good news is that nutritionally speaking, pulse pasta counts as both the ‘meat & veg’ component of a meal, boosting your plant protein and fibre intake.

Channel your inner Masterchef

For a bit of fun, why not try a Masterchef style challenge. Couples or families can create their own mystery box masterpiece using up veggies that you find in the fridge, freezer and pantry.

Lettuce not forget the kids…

Simple and easy veggies to offer kids of all ages at meal and snack times include:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Mini cucumbers or sliced cucumber
  • Small whole carrots or sliced carrots
  • “Magic Beans” (these are simply rinsed and drained canned beans)
  • Frozen peas (a refreshing summertime snack)
  • A side of canned beetroot is also a fave