How to Make Spiralized Sweet Potato Carbonara
Most of us don’t get enough vegetables. In fact, 90% of Americans don’t get the recommended 2-3 servings a day. (For most vegetables, 1 cup is a serving. For raw, leafy vegetables like salad greens it’s 2 cups). Vegetables are a great source of healthy nutrients like fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin A. They also play a big role in helping people lose or maintain weight. Vegetables are rich in fiber, which helps fill you up. Plus, when you’re eating more low-calorie vegetables, there’s less space for eating less higher-calorie less-healthful foods. Here are seven easy (and delicious ways) to eat more vegetables.
1. Add vegetables (and fruits) to breakfast.
The nutrients you get are a plus for your health, but eating produce in the morning can also help you maintain a healthy weight. A recent Cornell University study looked at the habits of people with normal BMIs—just naturally, without trying—and found that 96 percent ate breakfast, versus skipping it or merely sipping coffee. The most common items on their A.M. menu? You guessed it: fruits and veggies. So whip up a chock-full-of-veggies omelet or smoothie bowl bursting with fruit.
2. Eat more veggie soup.
Research has shown that when people eat soup they tend to eat fewer calories. Soup is also a great way to eat more vegetables because you can add a lot of produce to your soup pot. Make one of these chock-full-of-vegetables soups to help you get your fill this week.
3. Snack on vegetables.
And we don’t mean potato chips and French fries. Your snacks should help you fill up in between meals so you don’t feel starving at dinner. They also can help you fill your vegetable quota. Try carrots or cucumbers dipped in hummus, celery with peanut butter or a small cup of vegetable soup.
4.Turn sweet potatoes into noodles.
Flip pasta night on its head and make noodles out of vegetables. Use sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, turnips or beets to replace pasta and you’ll be getting loads of nutrients for not a lot of calories. Make Sweet Potato Carbornara for dinner tonight or try our other vegetable noodle recipes. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler to create long “noodles” with your vegetables.
5. Make wraps with lettuce.
Cut down on calories and carbs by using with lettuce to make a wrap. Butter lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves, lacinato kale and swiss chard all make good stand-ins. It’s a fun spin on lunch or dinner and an easy way to add more vegetables to your day. Wrap up your favorite sandwich fillings or get inspired by our healthy lettuce wrap recipes.
6. Use spaghetti squash for lasagna.
Think outside the box of traditional lasagna and instead of noodles use spaghetti squash. You get a satisfying portion of lasagna and a full serving of vegetables in this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini recipe.
7. Turn your vegetables into chips.
Make eating vegetables fun and whip up homemade chips with beets, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts or kale. Baking thin slices or leaves with a little salt gives you a crunchy snack or side. Even kids and picky eaters can’t resist vegetables when they’re served like chips!
Getting into the kitchen after a long day and making a delicious meal (and lotsa mess) is not what most of us want to be doing — especially once you’ve changed into your comfies and your favourite show is on.
Luckily there is an easy way around this: one-pan dinners.
These one-pan dinner recipes by Jessica Sepel — nutritionist, health blogger and cookbook author — are easy to prepare, make hardly any mess and are packed full of delicious flavour.
1. Roast pumpkin and chickpea one-pan with hummus dressing
“I’m obsessed with these easy one-pan dinners — as simple as throwing some veggies and a protein onto a baking tray and roasting until delicious,” Sepel said.
“This is the perfect vegetarian dinner option and so easy. Pumpkin and carrots are great starchy veggies too — really low GI and full of antioxidants from the beta-carotene.”
Serves two as a main, or four as a side.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ pumpkin
- 3-4 carrots
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5-6 mint leaves, torn
- ¼ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon hummus
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- ¼ cup vinegar (white balsamic, white wine or apple cider)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
- Preheat oven to 180°.
- Chop pumpkin into small wedges. Slice carrots thinly. Arrange on baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt generously.
- Add baking tray to the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, until golden and slightly caramelised.
- To make the dressing, combine hummus, mustard, vinegar and maple syrup in a small jar. Whisk until combined.
- Remove roasted vegetables from oven and add chickpeas to tray. Drizzle over dressing and top with pepitas, chilli flakes and mint leaves.
2. One-pan healthy chicken pesto pasta
“Who doesn’t love pesto pasta? I like to use a brown rice, gluten free brand of pasta, which I cook whilst the chicken is sautéing in the pan,” Sepel said. “Top with some grated Parmesan if you like.”
- 2 organic chicken breasts, cut into thin slices
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
- 2 cups cooked whole grain or gluten free pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 heaped tablespoons good quality pesto
- Basil leaves, to garnish
- Sea salt
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the sliced chicken breasts and one tablespoon of pesto to the pan, season generously with salt and sauté until cooked through.
- Once chicken is cooked, add the chopped broccoli and continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes.
- Stir through cooked pasta and add two tablespoons of pesto.
- Stir and top with fresh basil. Serve.
3. One-pan teriyaki chicken
“This one-pan dinner is so simple to make, requires virtually no washing up and tastes amazing,” Sepel said. “Not to mention, it is completely nutritionally sound. Enjoy.”
- 2 organic chicken breasts
- 1 head broccoli
- 2 carrots
- 1 eggplant
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- ¼ cup tamari sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 180°.
- Chop carrots and eggplant into slices. Chop broccoli into florets. Arrange vegetables on a lined baking tray, leaving space for the chicken breast.
- Drizzle vegetables with olive oil (or olive oil spray) and salt generously.
- Add chicken breast to the middle of the tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- To make marinade, whisk all marinade ingredients together until smooth.
- Spoon two tablespoons of marinade over each chicken breast. Spoon remaining marinade over vegetables.
- Place pan in oven and roast for 30-35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Serve with brown rice, if desired.
4. One-pan healthy fish and chips
“Fish and chips is such a classic summer meal. There’s nothing better after a day at the beach, but often the oils and batters used can be high in saturated fats. So I created a healthy version for you guys, as a one-pan dinner, of course,” Sepel said.
“Crispy parsnip and sweet potato chips paired with a simply roasted white fish, plus the most divine herb-nut topping.”
- 2 fillets white fish (e.g. John Dory or Ling)
- 1 sweet potato
- 2 parsnips
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 1 cup mixed herbs (parsley and basil are best)
- ½ cup almonds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt
- Preheat oven to 180° degrees.
- Chop sweet potato and parsnips into thin wedges and arrange on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with one tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle over coconut flour. Season with sea salt. Roast in oven for 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the herb-nut topping, finely chop mixed herbs with almonds. Add one tablespoon olive oil and a generous pinch of sea salt and continue to chop until combined.
- After 25 minutes, remove sweet potato and parsnip from oven and add the fish to the pan. Spoon over the herb-nut topping.
- Return tray to oven for a further 20 minutes, until fish is cooked and wedges are golden.
Eating properly after exercise is important not only to replenish the energy you’ve just burned, but also to make sure you get the most out of your workout — so you can see the results you want.
“Post workout nutrition provides fuel and nutrients for the body and helps prevent blood sugar lows and fatigue,” nutritionist Fiona Tuck told The Huffington Post Australia. “The body needs nutrients to help with muscle recovery and cellular repair.”
Nutritionist and celebrity chef Zoe Bingley-Pullin agrees.
“Looking after yourself doesn’t stop at exercise — taking care of nutrition is critical,” Bingley-Pullin said. “Proper refuelling will also allow you to have more energy for your next workout.”
According to Alexandra Parker and Anna Debenham, accredited practising dietitians from The Biting Truth, whether you’re an amateur or a professional athlete, what you eat pre- and post-exercise is crucial.
“Following a workout, what you eat is vital in helping you reach your training and health goals and in ensuring you make the most of your workout,” Debenham said.
“Every time you exercise, carbohydrate stores (in the form of glycogen) are utilised for energy and your muscle protein is broken down. It’s therefore essential to replenish these stores afterwards.”
“Exercising actually makes your muscle tissues more sensitive to certain hormones and nutrients, which means that muscle is most responsive to nutrient intake during the first 30 to 90 minutes post-workout,” Parker added.
When it comes to post-workout recovery, always consider the three Rs:
- Refuel your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores to avoid muscle tissue breakdown and low energy.
- Lack of glucose to fuel the brain can lead to decreased alertness and concentration, and low mood.
- Aim for high quality carbohydrates sources (think wholegrain breads and cereals).
- Repair damaged muscles with protein.
- Consuming protein post-workout will provide amino acids for the building and repair of muscle tissue. This will help you to recover more quickly.
- Aim for lean protein sources (think lean meats, eggs, nuts, legumes, tofu and reduced fat dairy).
- Rehydrate with fluids.
- Most of us finish a workout at least a little dehydrated, and you will continue to lose fluids through sweating and breathing. It is essential that you replace these fluids immediately.
- Your thirst is not the best gauge of hydration. The best way to tell how hydrated you are is to look at the colour of your urine. You want to aim for straw-coloured urine. The darker it is, the more dehydrated you are.
When we skip post-workout nutrition, the effects on the body are negative and quick to arise.
“While skipping a post-workout snack every now and then isn’t necessarily an enormous deal, it should never become a habit,” Parker told HuffPost Australia.
“If you don’t adequately replenish your stores following a workout, not only will you not make the most out of your workout, but your body can experience some other negative consequences.”
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels), which can make you feel disoriented and could even cause you to pass out
- Increased fatigue (during training and at work or school)
- Reduced performance at your next training session or event
- Suboptimal gains from the session just completed — you won’t make the most out of your workout
- Increased muscle soreness.
“Blood sugar can drop which can lead us to feeling shaky, tired, lightheaded and even nauseated,” Tuck said. “The brain relies on a constant supply of glucose to stay mentally alert, so our attention can wane and we can feel low in energy and mood.”
When it comes to actual post-workout food, Parker said the type and amount comes down to your fitness goals, more so than the exercise itself.
“Generally, the principles are very much the same, but exactly what your body needs most varies slightly depending on the type of exercise you’re doing and what your goals are,” Parker said.
“The time of day of your workout is also going to make a difference to the meal or snack you have (lunch food is very different to a snack).”
As a general rule, Parker recommends that all post-exercise foods should be rich in good quality carbohydrates to replenish muscle fuel stores, contain some lean protein to repair muscles, and include a source of fluid and electrolytes to re-hydrate effectively.
“The higher the energy intake (calories) depends on the intensity of the amount of physical exercise,” Tuck explained. “Long distance endurance training or weight training or body building would be different to a relaxing yoga class, for example.”
Here’s what to eat after different types of workouts.
1. Cardio work (e.g. running, endurance, cycling)
“The key is replenishing carbohydrate stores, and adequate hydration is essential,” Debenham said. “For example, a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and banana. It’s full of potassium which soothes muscles, high quality carbs, protein and heart healthy fats.”
Other great post-cardio options include: a banana and a handful of nuts, or 1-2 slices of whole grain toast with either ricotta and fruit or cottage cheese and tomato.
“Athletes, such as endurance runners and cyclists, need specific sports nutrition to ensure adequate nutrients and calories are consumed for the body to be able to function at its optimum,” Tuck told HuffPost Australia.
“This may involve consuming nutrients and electrolytes during the actual exercise, as well as pre- and post-work out nutrition.”
2. Pilates or barre
“Again, it depends on your goal. Is the goal to lose weight, or perhaps you’re looking to boost core strength and increase your muscle mass,” Debenham said.
“If your goal is weight loss, then a nutrient rich meal within 60 minutes of your workout is essential as the meal will be more efficiently digested. If your goal is to improve strength, then protein is key.”
Try two hard boiled eggs with multigrain toast, or a slice of roasted vegetable and feta frittata.
“Your food choices post-yoga should aim to repair your tired muscles and replenish your energy stores,” Parker said. “To do this, your body needs a hit of protein, some low GI carbohydrates and fruits or vegetables.
“Try a small tub of Greek yoghurt with a couple of spoons of natural muesli containing nuts and fruit. Or for something savoury, a small can of tuna, four bean mix and some chopped veggies.”
4. Resistance or strength training
If your goal is to gain muscle, then an energy-rich diet with adequate amounts of protein is just as important as your well-developed strength training program.
“While an increased intake is essential for muscle gain, your intake should be low in fat and high in nutrients,” Parker said.
“Following strength training, protein should be consumed. Consuming carbohydrates in conjunction with protein allows the protein to be used for muscle growth and repair.”
“Smoothies are a great option and easy if you’re on the run. Simply blitz the ingredients together in the blender the night before (berries, low fat yoghurt, oats).”
Tuck recommends trying a delicious chocolate smoothie with protein powder, banana, cacao and milk.
“This provides carbs, protein, fats and important minerals such as potassium and magnesium,” Tuck said.
5. High intensity interval training (e.g. cross fit, HIIT)
After high intensity interval training, Debenham recommends opting for an egg omelette with sautéed onions and capsicum, plus a bowl of chopped fruit. Hint: include pineapple.
“Aside from their protein content, eggs are high in leucine which triggers muscle protein synthesis. The vitamin C in the capsicums is essential for maintaining healthy cartilage you need to cushion your bones,” Debenham said.
“Research suggests that bromelain (an enzyme in pineapple) may help to reduce exercise induced inflammation.”
Another delicious option is overnight oats — simply combine oats, yoghurt or milk of choice, mashed banana and chia seeds.
Other post-workout snack and meal ideas:
- Peanut butter and banana in a whole grain wrap
- Lean chicken and salad roll
- Bowl of muesli with yogurt and berries
- Fresh fruit salad with Greek yogurt
- Tin of tuna with crackers, plus a banana
- Lean meat, chicken or fish with potato and vegetables
- Stir fry with lean meat
- Toast with banana, reduced-fat ricotta and honey, plus an orange.