We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: no matter what your dietary persuasion (and there’s a lot of competing persuasions out there these days) the one thing every nutritionist, dietician, naturopath and chef agrees on is the nutritional benefit of eating plenty of fresh vegetables. In fact, the minimum recommended daily intake is currently set at five servings of vegetables- and they’re not modest servings, either (think 1 cup of salad veg or 1/2 cup cooked veg).
By treating vegetables as the building blocks of your meals rather than as a side or accompaniment you’ll add flavour, interest and nutrition to the simplest of dishes. Without further ado, here are our ten favourite ways to get more organic veggies into your life.
1. Whiz up green smoothies
They’re all the rage right now- with good reason! Blending nutrient-rich greens into smoothies is a delicious way to exponentially up your veggie intake. Try adding a handful of spinach, silverbeet, lettuce, kale or any mild-flavoured leafy greens your blender can handle to your favourite fruit smoothie recipe. This Blueberry Basil Protein Smoothie from My New Roots is a great place to start experimenting- the berries give it a very palatable purple hue.
2. Add sweet corn to your cornmeal
Nothing beats the taste of fresh vegetables, so up the ante on your next batch of polenta by including cooked, pureed fresh corn. This recipe for Sweet Corn Polenta with Poached Eggs & Sage does exactly that, or you can adapt your favourite polenta dish in the same way- it works for both creamy, soft preparations and drier set ones meant for grilling, baking or frying.
3. Make zucchini spaghettini
Everyone is onto this one, Paleo and raw foodies alike. You can use a spiral slicer, mandoline, box grater or sharp knife to cut long zucchini noodles and serve them lightly blanched or raw. This Raw Zucchini Pasta with Walnut, Basil and Kale Pesto from The Design Files combines a variety of vegetable goodness in the one bowl.
4. Shave cabbage noodles
Crisp, cruciferous and colourful, finely shaved cabbage makes a fresh substitute for Asian noodles in salads and slaws with the added bonus that, raw, it encourages digestion and detoxification. White, red, Savoy, sugarloaf and wombok are suitable but remember to dress only immediately before serving to retain the crunch. We’ve got two recipes to tempt you: a Red Cabbage and Candied Cashew Slaw and a Shaved Cabbage Salad with Miso Sesame Dressing.
5. Snack on crudités
This one’s an oldie but a goodie: swap greasy grain-based snacks for the fresh and flavourful snap of vegetable crudités. Our favourites include carrots and celery sticks, asparagus spears, snow peas, radishes and green beans. Served with dip or vinaigrette they make an elegant appetiser or wrap and pack them for snacks on-the-go.
6. Grate carrots as a base for salads
Carrots make a filling, fibre-rich and versatile foundation for substantial salads. The best thing is that wherever there’s a box grater you can whip a carrot salad up in minutes, whether in the office kitchenette or at home. Here’s a very simple recipe for a Japanese-style Carrot Salad with Nori Gomashio: add some protein (boiled eggs, chickpeas, tinned tuna or tofu) and whatever else is on hand (herbs or other salad ingredients) and you’re away.
7. Replace white rice with cauliflower rice
The texture and appearance of grated cauliflower is very similar to white rice- only it’s much more wholesome! Cook it very lightly so it doesn’t disintegrate and serve plain as demonstrated here or try something a little more exotic, like this Cauliflower Rice and Turmeric Pilaf.
Whether they’re herbivorous or omnivorous, soups are a great way to make sure you get your dinner bowl brimming with veggies. Dedicate one night a week to soup and you’ll be well on your way to filling the quota- and if you cater for leftovers, so much the better for the next day’s lunch! There are a trillion great recipes out there, but this Pumpkin, Coconut and Coriander Soup from our website is pretty satisfying and this Creamy Asparagus Soup from Jamie Oliver is another favourite.
9. Serve sweet potatoes as a starch with curries
This is another rice and/or noodle replacer, the sweet flesh of sweet potatoes being a great foil to spices. You can either combine chunks of sweet potato in the curry as we have in this recipe for Red Lentil Daal or roast tubers whole and serve them split with the sauce poured over the top- kind of like a fancy jacket potato! Toss small to medium sized sweet potatoes in a 180°C oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until soft, and you’re good to go.
10. Add veggies to your dessert
Carrot Cake? Chocolate Beet Cake? Spice-kissed Pumpkin Pie? Sweet Potato Pound Cake? Well hello! Adding vegetables to the final course certainly doesn’t mean skipping on indulgence- in fact, the addition of grated or roasted veg gives baked goods irresistible moistness and texture.