By Jane Gibb
Ten serves, you ask? Yes, the rule of thumb on vegetables is changing. According to recent research by the Harvard School of Public Health, the indicators now suggest that we need to consume around nine serves (we just rounded it up for convenience) of fruit and veggies a day, with more veggies than fruit. (There’s a growing body of research to suggest that one piece of fruit a day is better for us than more). All up, that’s about five cups of veggies.
Of course, the question is how?
We all want to eat more veggies, but they take time to peel, chop and cook, so we reach for a piece of fruit (ideally) or a takeaway “healthfood” bar, or let’s admit, the odd meat pie.
The secret of success is “chunking up” your veggie time
At Griffins Hill, preparing our all-vegetarian menu for guests, I need large quantities of veggies, so I’ve developed some time savers I am going to share with you that will make it easy to weave veggies into every meal you eat with little fuss and bother.
Imagine how you will feel in six months’ time! The health benefits of veggies are really innumerable. Intractable chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, blood pressure, cancer, gastrointestinal health and poor vision all proven to respond remarkably when we just eat more veggies.
Chunk up the buying, chopping and cooking
If you don’t grow veggies (the quick and easy way to get access to them), I suggest a weekly shopping jaunt to your favourite markets to load up with yummy fresh broccoli, beans, carrots, celery and parsnips, pumpkin, fennel, kale and other seasonal delicious delicacies.
At home, while you are chopping and peeling, bring a couple of litres of water with about half a cup of quality sea salt to a fast boil. The veggies do not take up much of the salt because we are going to par boil the veggies (which keeps them crisper than steaming) with these three simple steps.
- 1. Plunge them for a minute (at most) into the boiling water.
- 2. Whip them out and into a bowl of sink filled with ice to instantly chill them
- 3. Spin them in your salad spinner till they are dry.
When you start, I suggest doing the veggies in batches, scooping them out with a sieve or slotted spoon after a minute.
Adding a whole lot to a pot brings it off the boil, and your veggies might overcook as it returns to the boil.
After a time or two, you’ll be an expert and can plunge them all in and whip them out to your own standards of crispness and crunch.
The big chill
Once chilled, put them in an airtight container. You need to get the click lock ones that have a really good rubber seal.
Chops or grate some raw veggies – carrots, mushroom, capsicum, spring onions – and put in another air tight container for added crunch.
Make a miso soup stock – buy black white or red miso from Asian supermarkets -- and add a few of your crisp veggies to that: mushrooms, a little broccoli or beans. If you grow herbs, add a handful of parsley or coriander to the mix.
Some people love to start the day with a fruit or veggie smoothie. Adding some chopped veggies from your crisper is a lovely way of adding some texture and crunch so you are not just drinking pulp.
Salad every which way
Time to raid your containers for raw and cook veggies that you can either put together in advance or at work. Carrots, shredded cabbage or lettuce (it won’t go brown if it is thoroughly dried), beetroot and kale make delicious salad veg. I like to add some broccoli or beans, and even a hard-boiled egg or some feta cheese.
For a more substantial meal, sandwich your ingredients between two luscious slices of whole-wheat or sourdough bread (sliced and kept in the freezer until used). Of add them to a bowl of noodles.
Eating out plus plus
If you’re dining out, why not whip out a small container and slip a few extra veg onto your plate or into your soup to boost your veggie quotient – most restaurants treat veggies as second cousins to meats and carbohydrates.
Kale chips are very popular. You can make an even healthier version yourself by roasting the kale in the oven rather than frying them.But simply raid your containers between meals for healthy veggies snacks. Did you know that celery is an appetite suppressant?
Winter soups and roasts
At dinner, when we have a little more time, we can chop and prepare some veggies to roast or make a simple veggie soup.
It is best to make them with ingredients prepared at the time, but you can chop up your dinner veg ingredients in the morning ready to cook in the evening.
Summer salads, BBQs and stir fries
Remember to add a few cooked vegetables into your salads in summer. It makes them so much more substantial.
Some veggies are lovely barbequed – pumpkin and sweet potato as well as eggplant comes to mind.Stir fries lessen the time we spend over a hot stove. Simply heat the wok, spoon in some of your par-boiled and raw veg, add noodles and soy sauce or whatever takes your fancy for an instant dinner.
It’s so easy to make veggies part of our daily fare if we get in the habit of this simple weekly preparation. It’s satisfying to know you are helping your body to fight off diseases, and keeping your energy levels high. Within six months, you’ll feel the difference. Enjoy.