So eat more vegetables, we all know that right? So why is it so hard to do?
Ok, I'm not talking about becoming vegetarian here. Or vegan, I'm talking about eating more vegetables generally for a healthier lifestyle.
I have folk asking me for ways of incorporating more vegetables in recipes, especially for kids.
So I'm going to share with you 7 ways to include vegetables in your food with minimal fuss. I have included ideas and recipes with different textures to suit a variety of appetites.
Different textures are a key thing to look at when incorporating more vegetables into our meals.
Food is a funny thing, we fancy different tastes at different times. When we had white snow for a week recently, we literally had soups every lunchtime, nobody complained, and to my surprise, complimented on them and finished the lot! I giggled inside of course as we ate a lot of vegetables that week!. Result!
This is one of my favorites. As it's easy to make and you can hide a number of vegetables in. I find that I tend to use this option when I am trying to use up vegetables in the bottom of my fridge drawer. I love to simmer the vegetables, then flavor with what spices or herb that suits my taste that day. Whether cooked in a pot or Instapot, the soup can be on low heat, with a timer set, I can pretty much walk away a bit and come back to a yummy soup blend. I love Broccoli soup, as it's very rewarding eating a fully green soup! It's an easy soup to make and you can vary it up by adding potatoes if you like a thicker soup or add a topping of grated cheese to give a different flavor. Or even add potatoes, and flaked stilton bits to turn it into a broccoli & stilton soup!
Simple Broccoli soup
1 head of broccoli chopped
1 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves crushed
1 litre of hot water
2 medium potatoes chopped
2 tablespoons of Marigold vegetable bouillon ( or vegetable stock)
Salt and Pepper
Grated cheese to serve ( optional)
Fry the onions and garlic in some heated oil.
Once the onions have softened, add all the rest of the ingredients ( not the cheese).
Bring to the boil and then turn heat low to simmer for approximately 30 mins.
This should be a soupy solution, if you prefer a thinner soup then use a stick blender to blitz it up to make it smoother. Serve with grated cheese (Optional).
If you have a family that likes meat, then you can crisp up some bacon or pancetta and top the soup up! Enjoy!
So when it comes to purees I always think of baby food, as it's mushy and usually bright colored and let's face it easy to eat! Then the next time I had a puree was a pea puree that actually tasty so yummy and it makes me think why do we not have this more in food?
Examples can be pea, beetroot, spinach, carrot & kale in fact any vegetables that can be mushed up and turned into a puree is an easy way of garnishing a dish and creating a visibly 'good looking plate of food' as they often comment on Masterchef! Purees are easy to digest and again easy to absorb as the body takes less time and effort to digest so a win-win here, also why not make it a colorful plate? There's something about color in the food I reckon!
Simple Pea Puree
a bag of peas
salt & pepper
Boil the bag of peas according to the packet.
Strain ( save some water to add to blend) add salt and pepper and lemon, then blitz together to make a smooth puree. Done. Easy peasy!
This is one of my favorite ways to add some veg in ( although it is mainly citrus skins and herbs that I love to blend in a good cordial.) I started creating cordials last year because I was concerned about the level of artificial sugars that are in fruit drinks that are labeled 'no sugar' especially I always found they tasted bitter and was even more concerned that this market feeds a good chunk of the children demi graphic. Another reason why I devised this was that I had a bowl of perfectly good orange skins one day and thought, hmm I can still smell the orange oils in this what a waste to just compost them! So my famous Orange skin cordial was born. My mum would have dried the skins and used them in cooking but I needed a faster way of using this nutritional great-tasting ingredient. I then progressed to cucumber cordial and mint and then noticed that every time I make it - the cordials would go! very quick! So there, cucumber cordial and Cucmber & Lemon cake you can get the recipes here
4) Crisps & snacks
Did you know you can make cucumber thins? Literally, just slice ultra-thin cucumber slices and sprinkle lightly with salt ( I love using pink Himalayan as the colors are so pretty! ) then dehydrate! They make the yummiest crisps and are delicious with cucumber and gin and topic in the summer! Other yummy snacks- what about kale crisps? I used to make this when my kid was about 2, and once on a play date, she said to me mummy please can you make us some crispy salad for our play date? I found out it was kale crisps! Result! Thankfully it was popular with her friend too who's mum is a nutritionist so think that was a huge plus! One year I grew a forever kale plant ( as in we got a constant supply) and we would pick whole big leaves and oven baked them to Kale crisps that looked like a fan!
I pack of kale leaves( larger the better)
Celtic or Himalayan salt (another salt is also fine)
Wash and pat dry kale leaves, cut hard woody stems off.
Lay on a baking tray flat and ideally not overlapping too much
sprinkle salt and drizzle with the oil.
Oven bake for 7-8 minutes ( keep an eye on it as it burns easily, even if a bit brown they should be ok- taste to check)
If you are watching fat intake I would blot excess oil on kitchen paper then serve in a bowl. Now sit back watch this disappear as they are very moreish indeed!
5) Make it colorful
I love color. And this includes food, colorful food is fun and I know psychologically that I'll be eating a variety of different nutrients so we still do this today, I would ask my family to guess the number of vegetables in my food, in fact, I did this once on my Instagram and intrigue got very exciting as people tried to guess which vegetables are in our food.
So I always buy a variety of colors in food, so I don't have to think about how or what to cook. For purples, I buy purple onions, red cabbage, blueberries, and aubergines. Reds - tomatoes, Red peppers, strawberries, & watermelon. For green, there's spinach kale, peppers, broccoli. Orange there's carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potato and so on, you get the gist. I try to have at least 2 or 3 vegetables in my meals so that the variety is there. Did you know that eating a variety of colors really helps lots of body functions, dealing with inflammation to immune systems, and much more? I will be hosting my next event that includes colorful food, if interested click here, or read on the next section about fun food!
6) Make it fun
So one thing I've done recently ( which is the easiest thing ever) is to make a savory multicolored art piece tart! It started off with a bunch of Asparagus and a pack of puff pastry, then I needed protein and cracked a few eggs in and made a summary picture on a puff pastry base. This is a great recipe for kids too. Why not let them make their own? The thinking behind it is if you add more variety of vegetables in the tart ( and let kids decorate their own, then they would like to eat their own masterpiece correct? See the pictures below of my masterpieces, I would serve these with some homemade cranberry ketchup or some wild garlic capers that we had foraged seasons before. It becomes a treat and everyone gets to eat their own masterpiece! It sneakily clever and feeds the brain too by being letting creativity flow! ( It can also foster a great memory with food!) In fact, I'm holding my next event making one of these savory tarts my next event, Would you like to have a go? Why not learn to make one with me? It's a great one to do with kids, and they will know how to cook something healthy for later life too! You can book Friday 19th March or Sunday at 21st March for 4.30-5.30pm, click on the links and hope to see you there! I will also be talking about how to make wild garlic capers, one of the recipes in my new book Forager's Notebook!
7) Hide it & disguise it
This one is a bit sneaky, but I'm going to include it because people don't eat vegetables often because of the simple reason is that they've had a bad experience with a certain vegetable in the past or they don't like the texture or the taste. I used to run the Oyster bar in the famous department store, Harrods and I had spoken to countless customers who had said they had a bad oyster so can never touch one again. ( Don't get me wrong sometimes allergies can develop and that is a different thing entirely!) But that would lead me to think goodness! To not eat food ever again because of a bad experience? Seems a shame. I did a sneaky once, I love a good vegetable bolognese every now and then as it helps use up my vegetables, and I was making some for a friend for dinner, and I had no meat in the house so made it up for the gathering, one person in the group said I hate mushrooms, and I said I'll make this bolognese and if you don't like it then no need to eat it but if I make it and it tastes ok then there you go, you've eaten mushrooms! And guess what? He ate it and said it's not too bad after all! So sometimes our palates can change, I used to hate olives and anchovies as a kid, but now as an adult find them so full of flavor, so tastes can change!
Hope this is helpful and hope to see you at my next event!