Are you like me – starting to lose motivation whenever the thought of planning for next week’s meals looms? The drudgery of churning out healthy, tasty meals that cater for all tastes in the family while involving some form of vegetable matter can be discouraging to the most motivated of mamas. We all know vegies are important, but most of us still don’t make our five serves a day (one serve is a cup of raw or half a cup of cooked veg), and probably end up eating the same vegies week in week out.
Vegetables need to be a part of our everyday diet because they provide plenty of fibre and essential nutrients. A diet high in vegetables may help reduce cholesterol, some cancers, and heart disease. We were designed as omnivores after all, not carnivores, and our plates are supposed to look like this:
Having more vegies on your plate has another huge advantage – they are extremely low in calories (in general – avoid potatoes though!) but high in water, fibre and nutrients so you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied on fewer calories. Hello weight loss!
But how do you find inspiration beyond the usual broccoli, peas and carrots? I’ve developed a number of different ways of thinking about vegetables that I must say I don’t apply often enough, but here they are in the hope that they might help you one day!
1. Vegies that are in season
This doesn’t apply if you live in the tropics, obviously, but buying vegies in season has many benefits, including being cheaper and more nutritious. Google for information on your local vegetable seasons, like this Farmer’s Market Guide to seasonal fruits, vegies and herbs in Victoria, Australia.
2. Vegies according to colour
You get the drift – red for tomatoes and capsicums, green for leafies and broccoli and beans, yellow for squash, orange for pumpkin and carrot etc… This way of eating vegies ensures that you are eating a variety of nutrients.
3. Vegies according to cuisine
This is one of my favourites. Think stirfries, salads or curries for Asian cuisines, guacamole for Mexican, ratatouille for French etc. Bon appetit!
4. Vegies according to way of cooking
Steamed, roast, stirfried, curried, salads, in soups, braised… Choose your cooking method according to the seasons, with hearty soups in winter, and fresh salads in summer.
5. As a substitute for carbs or meat
I’m still not convinced of this… Although I do adore my lentil bolognaise, (technically lentils are not a vegetable though but you get my drift). Ribbons of zucchini could replace pasta, or bean sprouts could replace noodles. Or maybe just have a mixture so you reduce the carbs (and calories) but don’t starve!
6. Experiment with fancy salads
I’m a bit lazy when it comes to salads – a prewashed mix with slosh of olive oil and balsamic is my quick fix on weekday nights. But why not try a new salad once in a while – like this Orange and Fennel Salad, and feel a little bit special?
7. Try a new vegetable
Go beyond your comfort zone and try new things like okra, or gorgeous mizuna greens, which were a surprising and delicious addition to an udon noodle soup I had in Japan once.
8. Seek inspiration from your favourite chef
Just don’t get distracted by Nigella’s dessert recipes (Does that woman ever stop eating cheesecake?!) – try her Crunchy Salad recipe instead.
I hope that got you inspired – and hungry! Please feel free to share your tips and favourite recipes! x