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If you're trying to get to your five a day but not always succeeding, check out these top tips to learn how to easily work more veg into your daily routine.
Serve veg in the raw
Put a plate of sliced raw veggies on the table with dinner. Carrots, celery, cucumbers and green peppers are all fantastically crunchy and great for dipping into houmous or other healthy dips. Ripe and juicy tomatoes are delicious on their own or drizzled with a bit of olive oil or vinaigrette.
Start a salad habit
Making salad a routine part of dinner is an easy way to get towards your five a day. A handful of salad greens, a few cherry tomatoes, and sliced cucumber or apple result in a salad that comes together in mere minutes.
Many vegetables develop a full-bodied, intense flavour when roasted. You can use them as side dishes or work them into salads, quiches or other recipes. Autumn squashes and pumpkin are delicious when roasted. In winter, go for root veg such as parsnips, swede and beetroot. Roasting springtime asparagus results in sweet and tender stems. In summertime, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, aubergine and onions work well.
Puree veg into soups
Potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, cauliflower and broccoli - just about any cooked (or leftover) vegetable can be made into a creamy, comforting soup with little else but some stock and seasonings.
Stir-frying is a great way to either make a quick vegetable side or an entire meal to serve with rice or noodles. Select your favourite vegetables and cut into bite-sized pieces (or buy a time-saving stir-fry mix). Heat a frying pan or wok to a high temperature. Swirl a little olive or groundnut oil in the pan until hot and add the vegetables. Stir and toss until cooked but still crisp.
Depending on the flavour you're going for - you can give the veg a Mediterranean touch by using olive oil and sprinkling with fresh or dried basil and oregano. Or for an Asian inspired stir-fry, season with soy sauce and a drizzle of sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, give one last stir, then serve.
Instead of gravy with those bangers, try a sauce made out of sauteed onions, tomatoes and peppers. Top baked chicken with a similar concoction. Tomato pasta sauces can also be embellished with grated courgette and carrot, and chopped peppers and mushrooms.
Fresh homemade salsa is another versatile option - and there are loads of salsas out there that combine much more than tomatoes, such as sweetcorn salsa, black bean salsa and more.
Combine with eggs
Steam or saute fresh veggies, then fold them into an omelette with some grated cheese and a touch of cubed ham, if desired. Frittatas are also fantastically easy to make, and healthier than a quiche. It's hard to think of a vegetable that can't be worked into an omelette or frittata.
Make a quick supper out of a veggie omelette or frittata, then serve alongside a crisp green salad. You'll pack in a double dose of vegetables in one sitting!
Sneak veg into mince
You can add flavour and nutrition to mince - whether in burgers or Bolognese - just by grating in some veg. What's better is that picky eaters will never be the wiser, and you'll save money to boot! Add up to 150g of grated or finely chopped raw vegetables to a burger mixture before shaping and cooking. Carrots, courgettes, peppers and mushrooms work well for both burgers and Bolognese. Or add chopped cooked spinach or grated carrot to the mince you use to make lasagne.
Do a recipe makeover
Have a few tried and true recipes featuring meat that you know your family enjoys? Give the recipe a makeover by using vegetables in place of all or some of the meat. A great example: Turn a meaty lasagne into a veg-packed feast by using sauteed veg instead of mince. Try adding loads of veg to your favourite cottage pie. Increase the amount of vegetables and decrease the amount of meat you use to make homemade soups, stews and casseroles.