Enjoying a plate full of lovely vegetables...
Posted on 25th January 2023 at 07:06
A couple of weeks ago we looked at one of the most common diet related myths – or, if you prefer, mis conceptions (!) – we regularly hear from Clients. Eggs are bad for you and should be avoided. As so often is the case, the exact opposite is true… If you missed the post, it can be found here.
This week we’re going to continue on a diet related theme, looking at a group of foods which many people say they don’t like – and will often try to avoid at all costs. We’ve even heard people saying they can’t eat them or are allergic to every single one of them. Although, having said that, when we’ve dug a bit deeper – no pun intended, as you’ll find out in a minute (!) – it usually has much more to do with how this food was prepared and cooked, rather than the food itself.
So, what are we talking about this week? Vegetables.
While we’d love to say that everyone knows vegetables are good for them AND the importance of making them the mainstay of their diets, this doesn’t always seem to happen in practice. So, it would probably be more accurate to say that most people know in theory vegetables are good for them, even if this isn’t reflected by what’s found on their plates (!). Moving swiftly on…
Vegetables are the ultimate low calorie, nutrient rich, foods containing a huge range of Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants to help support good health. Added to this they contain fibre, in varying amounts and types – soluble and insoluble – to help improve our digestion and gut health, which brings lots of other health benefits too. You can find out more about the importance of fabulous fibre here. High vegetable diets have been linked to a lower risk of many long term – chronic – health problems including High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Heart Disease as well as Diabetes and Cancer.
With all these benefits, why is it that so many people say they don’t like – or actively avoid – vegetables? Having had this conversation with many Clients over the years, we’d say it was down to two main factors, both of which can be easily remedied.
The first usually goes back to childhood. Perhaps vegetables weren’t a regular part of their diet or only a few easily prepared ones were eaten. Carrots, frozen peas, tinned sweetcorn and the like. Or, perhaps, it was more to do with them not being very appetising. Over cooked, strongly seasoned or covered in sauce or dressing.
Whatever the reason, vegetables weren’t a welcome part of every meal – or were only eaten under sufferance – with all too predictable results. It’s one thing having to eat foods you didn’t like as a child, it’s quite another when you’ve left home and can choose what you will – and definitely won’t (!) – eat. A restricted diet as a child often lays the foundations for an even more restricted diet as an adult…
The second also has its roots in childhood. It reflects how we’ve lost our link to the natural world and what our body actually needs to be healthy. With foods available 24 / 7 and 365 days a year, it’s all too easy to ignore our body’s natural intelligence and simply go for the same foods off the supermarket shelf all year round. However, our bodies have very different nutritional needs in the Summer to the Winter.
That’s why foods high in water and minerals, such as potassium and sodium, are in season in the Summer. Think, salads and berries. Why? Because they help replace the water and minerals lost in sweat. Similarly, it’s why starchy robust vegetables are at their best in the Winter, as these help generate body heat to keep us warm. So, all those lovely root vegetables and filling greens. We’ve written about the importance – and joys – of eating in season before and the post can be found here.
So, what’s the answer? Well, as we’ve already mentioned, both these issues can easily be remedied.
The first is all about preparation and cooking, which can be done in many different ways. All that’s needed is a little forethought and an addition – or two – to your kitchen equipment.
Steaming vegetables, whether on the hob or using a plug in steamer, is a quick and easy way to cook them. Even better, you don’t lose all the Minerals and Vitamins by boiling them to death in water (!), so making them more appetising and nutritious.
Stir frying vegetables has similar benefits to steaming, although the preparation and cutting before cooking can take a little while. However, the end results are well worth it in terms of taste and nutritional content.
Many vegetables can be grated and eaten raw, as part of a salad or used to make vegetable noodles or rice.
Vegetables lurking at the bottom of the fridge or vegetable basket can be used to make soup. It’s an easy way to use up left overs AND increases the amount of vegetables in the diet. Soup makers make the whole process very easy or you can chop – or grate – vegetables, add a little water and a stock cube, then liquidise it when cooked. It’s also a quick, easy and warming lunch to take with you in a flask to work or when you’re out and about.
Roasting vegetables is another way to make vegetables more appetising. Simply chop up a selection of vegetables lurking in the bottom of the fridge, toss in a little olive oil, herbs and garlic then roast in the oven. And, if you’ve never tried them before, beetroot, cauliflower, carrot and celery all roast very well.
Vegetables can also be juiced or included in smoothies which are very easy ways to disguise them for the less enthusiastic (!).
The second is simply about eating as wide a range of vegetables as possible. After all, who wants to eat the same thing day after day?!? And this is where frozen vegetables can be a really useful addition to your diet but, please, not just frozen peas or easy to cook selections of peas, carrots and sweetcorn (!).
Which brings us on to eating whatever is in season right now and a subject dear to our hearts. Not only does it ensure our bodies get exactly what they need for the time of year, but it means we’re eating local foods, which will be at their best at that particular time. Even better, you’ll be supporting local farmers and, with a little planning, allows you to grow some of your own vegetables to enjoy fresh from your garden or patio.
However, one word of warning, if you’re buying vegetables from a supermarket. Even though a vegetable may be in season here in the UK, when you read the label you’ll often find that supplies are also coming in from far flung places too. We always have a look at the labels on fruit and vegetables when we’re in our local Co op and are often amazed to see where vegetables are coming from.
Asparagus from Peru at the same time as lovely fresh Asparagus was being sold by a local farmer, Runner Beans from Kenya while we were still picking them in our own garden. And many more besides…
And, if you think it’s too late for you to start eating more veggies, we’ll finish with a quick story. As you start to experiment, you may be surprised to find that some vegetables you absolutely loathed as a child, you now love. Which this is exactly what happened to Elaine. As a child, she hated pickled beetroot and avoided it for many years. It was only when a friend suggested it may be the vinegar she didn’t like, rather than the beetroot, she suddenly found that she did, in fact, like beetroot after all – and now grows it every year in her garden. So, never say never, as far as any vegetable is concerned!
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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