No matter the time of year, it’s always a good idea to try to squeeze some extra veg onto your dinner plate, but it’s easier than ever in the summertime with the abundance of excellent produce.
We’re not suggesting that you go vegan or anything quite so extreme. Instead, we are suggesting a number of hints and tricks for adding more vivid, fresh fruits and vegetables to the everyday meals you’re used to cooking. Easy!
1.Salad With Everything. Keep a salad spinner in the fridge full of ready prepared greens. Then serve every meal either on top of or alongside a healthy pile of green salad. If your entrée has a sauce or a topping, add it to the salad greens as well.
Otherwise, use just a little olive oil and vinegar as a dressing, and skip the fatty bottled stuff. You’ll be happy with this salad-with-everything trick only if the greens are fresh and tasty. So be sure to buy and prepare fresh salad every few days—which you’ll need to do anyway if you’re adding it to every meal.
2. Use veggies as snack crackers. Instead of munching on cheese or dip with crackers or bread, try using carrots and cucumbers. These two sturdy vegetables can be sliced into discs or ovals (just slice diagonally), and suddenly, you’re eating raw vegetables as a snack—with pleasure! Slice a couple of each when you get them home from the supermarket and keep them snack-ready in the fridge. Raw broccoli and cauliflower are also great for dipping, but of course they don’t offer quite such a handy, cracker-like platform.
3. Greens as Default Dinner. You’ve probably seen hearty kale, Swiss chard, and other varieties of leafy, dark green veg at the market, but you may not have realised their full potential as a fabulously healthy, quick, and cheap dinner staple. Wash and tear about half a kilo of any type of sturdy cooking greens. Bring around 2 cups of water to the boil, then add the greens.
Cook for as few as three minutes, just until tender— if overcooked your veg will turn into an unappealing, dull green mess. Then drain, and add a little olive oil to the same pan. Throw the greens back in, and pan-fry them with—well, anything and everything! Try chopping up some of these go-withs: apples, onions, golden raisins, and walnuts.
Tomatoes, pine nuts, and garlic. Onions, sundried tomatoes and feta. Olives, red peppers, anchovies and onions. The idea is to add several ingredients that you like in combination. One is often crunchy; while one may be sweet. This is a go to dinner in our household, and we never seem to tire of it.
4. Double the Veg. This one sounds almost too easy, but it works! Whenever you follow a recipe, just double the quantity of vegetables it calls for. So, add twice the amount of carrots and onions to your normal beef pot roast recipe. Chicken soup does fine with double the celery, carrots, onions, and garlic. A bowl of pasta salad can, frankly, consist of mostly vegetables with just a little bit of pasta. Sandwiches can be piled high with lettuce, tomatoes, and sprouts, but with the same amount of meat and cheese as before.
5. Drink your veg! You can drink half a bunch of kale or a big handful of spinach in just one frosty glass. A vegetable smoothie looks bizarre; but think how impressed your friends and neighbors will be with what a health nut you are. They don’t need to know that it’s absolutely delicious.
Blend about 750 ml of fresh fruit and a 2-3 cm piece of peeled ginger with 2 cups of water. Experiment with whatever fresh fruit you have available; my favourites are mango and pineapple, but mixed berries are also terrific.
Add half a bunch of kale or a big handful of baby spinach, and blend until smooth. Depending on your preference and the type of fruit you use, you may need to thin it out with a little bit more water. Serve this very cold, wearing a tracksuit and a smile.