December 12, 2017
Health experts recommend we eat 5 serves of veg per day to live a long and healthy life. For some people, this is easy and they have been doing it for years. But where do you start if you aren’t one of those few? The vast majority of Australians don’t eat enough vegetables, with the lowest veg consumption by teenagers and young adults under 25 years of age. However, we could all do with a bit of improvement.
Joining a CSA is a great first step because you are more likely to want to eat the veg you buy. It will be fresh and in season and will have been actively growing until very recently and hence have more flavour. Receiving a box of veggies each week will also make you eat more veg because it will be in front of you in the fridge, reminding you to consume it. So that’s a great start.
The next thing is to make a mind shift and plan your meals starting with the vegetable component. If we are supposed to eat 5 servings of veg a day, that is the highest number of servings of all the food groups. So, it makes sense that veg should take up the most room on our plates and be at the centre of our meals. Rather than thinking about which meat, pasta, rice or fish dish you are going to cook tonight, you could think about whether you will roast, stir-fry, saute, grill, fry, simmer or slow cook. Then just choose the veg you want to eat or have in your box that week, and prepare it in this way, adding in other food groups to complement the main attraction.
Another option is to prepare a whole lot of different veg based dishes on the weekend or in advance and then combine them in various ways during the week. For example, I usually cook my silverbeet or chard as soon as I get it home so it doesn’t take up as much room in the fridge. By chopping it finely and then sauteeing it in olive oil and garlic, finished with lemon zest I have a ready-made vegetable as part of any meal, or a simple green that can be added to pasta, soup, stews, burgers, curries or anything else. Preserving some of your veg into relishes, chutneys, pickles and ferments is also a great way to add another serving of veg to any meal. In the photo above, I have made a simple meal of zucchini fritters, coleslaw, zucchini relish, baked carrot, beet, parsnip and zucchini, sautéed silverbeet and beetroot relish. All of these were in the fridge already, and served cold they made a quick, satisfying and nourishing lunch. There were easily 3 or 4 serves of veg on this plate.
Eating more veg becomes easier the more you cook and prepare vegetables as dishes in their own right. Searching for recipes that celebrate one or more veg ingredients and preparing them in advance means you will never have a meal devoid of veggies ever again. Unless of course you want to, and that’s ok too sometimes.
Yours in veg,