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Vegetables and Salad

By: Cara Frost-Sharratt - Updated: 21 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Vegetables And Salad

Vegetables and salad should form a large part of your diet. Unfortunately they often get forgotten on shopping trips, or bought will plenty of good intentions only to be left languishing in a fruit bowl or the bottom of the fridge until they need to be thrown away. Part of the problem is inevitably that people can’t think of exciting ways to prepare and cook them and, let’s face it, a plate of plain boiled vegetables isn’t exactly the most interesting of meals to tuck into. However, if you treat them with a bit of respect and liven them up with other great flavours, vegetables and salads can make the most wonderful, healthy, colourful meals.

Super Salads

If your idea of a salad is a bit of chopped iceberg lettuce and some sliced cucumber then it’s definitely time for a rethink. You salad shelf should be stacked with a variety of different ingredients and you should try and get into the habit of starting off your evening meal with a small salad, or serving a side salad with the main dish. This ensures you get an extra portion or two of fruit and veg. Try adding celery, radishes, red peppers, watercress and rocket to your salads to vary them. Alternatively, turn the salad into the main event by topping fresh leaves with some grilled chicken strips, nuts, fish or new potatoes.

Respect your Veg

Vegetables are never going to taste their best if you boil to oblivion. The best way to cook veg is to steam them. This helps to retain all the nutrients and it will also keep the lovely vibrant colours and stop them going mushy. If you have a stackable steamer you can cook a whole variety of vegetables at the same time. Just check the manufacturer’s booklet for exact cooking times and make sure you start with the ingredient that takes the longest so that everything is ready at the same time.

Another great way to cook vegetables is to oven bake them. You need to chop them into quite large pieces, as they will lose some of their volume during cooking. Try some sweet potato then crumble over some feta cheese and pine nuts before serving. Alternatively, go for an Italian theme with aubergine, courgette and red pepper drizzled with a little olive oil. This is a great accompaniment for grilled fish.

A similar flavour can be achieved by griddling the vegetables. If you’re using this method, you could slice the ingredients into long strips, instead of chopping. Courgettes and aubergines work particularly well and they can be flavoured with some finely chopped garlic and sea salt. When they’re cooked, slice them and stir into some cooked pasta for a simple lunch dish.

Fresh is Best

When you’re buying your salads and vegetables always look out for the freshest produce. Try to buy locally sourced ingredients and make the most of seasonal produce: it’s bound to taste better as this is when it’s meant to be eaten! Don’t store vegetables and salads for too long, as they will begin to deteriorate and lose flavour. If you can shop every day or every other day then great; just buy what you need and you won’t end up throwing good food away.

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