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EATING MORE FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Six 'S's for Success
Smoothies present a great opportunity to include certain vegetables that may seem a little challenging such as kale for some people. The addition of fruit can help to counteract any bitterness and it provides fluid. By choosing fruits you like, you're more likely to enjoy the smoothie you make, and it may give you the option of adding in small amounts of fruit that you're less enthusiastic about, but would ideally like to be including in your diet to increase your nutrient intake. There's a dedicated "Smoothie" page for members on this website, but here's a summary of some of the fruits and vegetables we use in smoothies (not necessarily all at once!)
Vegetables: kale, romaine lettuce, celery, cucumber.
Fruits: banana, dates, orange, lime, berries, pear.
Soups work in a similar, but more savoury way, to smoothies. In other words, by ensuring you include tastes you know you enjoy, then adding small amounts of vegetables that you don't get terribly excited about, you can extend the range of vegetables that you're eating. Like smoothies, soup can be "fast food". A very powerful blender such as a Vitamix or Omniblender can heat (but not cook) the contents of the jug. This makes raw soups entirely possible and many are far more delicious than might be assumed. A less powerful blender can still do the job but with the addition of hot water. A low powered blender will cope well with soft vegetables such as tomatoes. A more powerful one may do justice to vegetables such as parsnip which makes a delightful raw soup with the addition of some lemon juice, miso, and a small handful of cashew nuts or chia seeds for extra thickness. Of course, any vegetables can be pre-cooked. We favour steaming for this.
If ever there was an image problem, it surely rotates around the word "salad"! Maybe it goes back to the days when salads were little more than a few limp lettuce leaves, some cucumber and tomatoes? Or maybe it's the notion that it's at best a support act for whatever the main event of the meal is? A side dish, not something to be taken seriously or enjoyed? Salads can be phenomenal and as diverse as the varied ingredients and combinations of ingredients that make them up. Do you ever think of putting fruit in a salad? Fruit works very well both nutritionally and in terms of easy digestion when combined with light salad vegetables such as leafy greens. Try a mango and orange salad, or grapefruit and sultana. Other fruits work well too eg apple, pear, kiwi. And what about savoury salads? The options are endless and can be all cooked, all raw or a combination of the two. There's no law about salads being served cold …. And of course, they can be enhanced with the addition of grains you enjoy, eg rice, quinoa or legumes such as chickpeas, lentils. If a salad is boring then it's a result of either limited available ingredients or something worse ...a lapse of creativity! Seriously though, salads can add such a lot to one's diet. If you've typically avoided them, have another go and make it great!
This is more of a method than a meal suggestion, although steamed vegetables can form the basis of a quick meal such as a vegetable curry. Steaming is a quick way to cook vegetables whilst retaining many vital nutrients and avoiding harmful substances which are sometimes formed with other cooking methods. We have written about steaming and posted it on this website for members if you would like some more detail.
Spices and herbs can make or break any recipe. It's often the flavours in our meals that appeal to our senses and create memories of favourite foods. This is great because it means we still get to enjoy favourite tastes even though the foods that are imbued with them may change. Herbs and spices also have a lot to offer in their own right; many have antioxidant properties, others are anti-inflammatory. So make a vegetable or fruit meal with spices or herbs that you like and reap all the benefits.
Sauces and Dressings
Whole plant foods can combine to make beautiful sauces and dressings. Many of them can be quite simple in terms of the number of ingredients but with the right combination they can turn a collection of vegetables (or fruits) into a meal. We enjoy making a curry sauce for our steamed vegetables, a paprika and tomato sauce with beans, a miso sauce for our mushrooms, a mango, orange and cayenne dressing, or mango and ginger for a salad with fruit, and we have every intention of continuing to create new ones!
Whatever it takes to include more fresh plants in your diet is likely to be worth doing. Love your food, but make sure it's food that can love you back.
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