“Eat your vegetables! Polish it off or else…” that’s me glaring at my son in senior primary and feeling rightly justified by my approach. Right?……hmmm wrong! Vegetables are not sweet (especially the leafy greens) look miserable and hang limp after a tango with heat. So getting anyone to eat it especially children is a herculean task. But we do need the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, water contained in vegetables.
So what better way to get these essentials than to get ingenious in the preparation and presentation of vegetables in our dining experience? I suggest that you have at least 50% per cent of your food as the veggies to achieve the trim waistline target. I know you are raising eyebrows at my 50% but with a combo of these suggestions, you won’t even need to start calculating. I’ve compiled these suggestions to help you get the veggies in sans the preaching, threats and tantrums!
The seven ways you can include vegetables in your family menu
1. Veggies stir fry
Stir fires are quick, super easy and tasty. They are good accompaniments to rice dishes, yam, potatoes, pasta –in fact, stir-fries can easily be your dining staple. A quick combo of onions, carrots, green peas, basil, cabbage, green beans, sweet corn, celery, parsley you name it seasoned with salt, a tablespoon of oil and bouillon cubes will have to reach for a second helping. A plus for this one- the veggies are lightly sauteed in oil and remain crisp on serving to mean that it retains much of its nutrients.
Salads are my weight loss pals. Here the rainbow is called into the competition. From dark greens, summery yellows, sharp reds, mellow purples, creamy whites, salads are a gracious queen on every dining table and for good reasons too. With a wide variety of dressings catering to every palate, salads enhance your dining experience. The vegetables provide antioxidants, phytonutrients in addition to water, minerals and vitamins revving your metabolism and ensuring a slender waistline
Salads are versatile dishes and work well with beef, poultry, fish, grains, root tubers and legumes.
Soups, as we know it here in Nigeria, are literal calorie bombs. The soup contains a wide variety of calorie-heavy condiments, salt, carbohydrates, triglycerides as a result of the cooking method.
But that can be remedied by increasing the volume of leafy greens used, finding alternative calorie-less ingredients and incorporating healthier preparation methods. That said, soups that can be made out of vegetable/chicken broth with your choice of herbs, spices and veggies thrown in. Serve with pasta, bread, chips, rice. Vegetables like carrots, green peas, onions, cabbage, leek are really great.
Smoothies are primarily vegetable mixed with a sweet fruit and other wholesome ingredients pureed for ease of consumption. Smoothies if properly planned can be a quick way to take in your Daily Requirements for fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables for smoothies include spinach, water-leaf, garden egg leaf, carrot, cucumber, pumpkin leaf, cabbage, beets. Smoothies are the platinum standard in the daily requirement for vegetables since the vegetable fibres are retained in the drink. Smoothies are healthy, nutritious and can be spruced with nuts, ice and fruits to make it appealing to your little Madam (Oga)
5. Veggie Snacks
Vegetables as snacks? yes, that too. When the craving for snacks rolls in, it’s so easy to buy biscuits from the Mallam’s kiosk or pastries from the mobile vendors roaming the streets or even to down a bowl of asoki- garri with milk, sugar and groundnuts!
Vegetables like carrots, garden egg, cucumber, bell peppers are quick picked me up healthy snacks. They are full of nutrients, readily available and won’t break your budget. Other unlikely veggie snacks you can scrunch up include celery sticks with peanut butter and crushed dates, cucumber n cashews combo, a bowl of cabbage with wholesome granola. The list goes on but hey you can get adventurous and create new recipes!
6. Veggie fold-ins
Vegetable fold-ins are simply ingenious ways to get more veggies especially the leafy greens into your soups, stews and other prepared meals. Just wash, chop and add the chosen leafy greens into your stew or soup. Do remember that in doing this the spice strength of your food may need topping up after. To ensure crispiness of the vegetable wash and clean the vegetable and allow to drain excess water before using.
Remember that not all leafy greens are good for fold-ins. For example, you cannot use a fresh bitter leaf as a fold in unless you are looking to curing malaria with a meal( like my grandma in those days)
7. Vegetable Juices
Green juices have grown popular over the years due to the healthy-look-good quest of the current generation. Thus all edible greens can are juiced daily all over the world and served as breakfast accompaniment or taken as is. These juices are full of fresh vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, prebiotics.
Green juices are a great option in the daily requirement for vegetables! Reason being that
- The vegetables are not heated
- Juice is served immediately
- It’s cheap
- Easy to prepare
- Variety is easy to achieve
- Can be optionally sweetened
- Nutrients are preserved
- Since fibre is discarded, your picky eater won’t have much to complain about!
NOW you ain’t got no stories to tell about not having vegetables in your meals! Just pick one or more of these options and watch the transformation in your health and beauty