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How to eat more veggies

If doctors and nutritionists agree on one thing it's this: Eating more vegetables is the most important healthy eating habit worth getting into. Like all new habits this might seem daunting at first, but it's easy once you get your head around it. Actually, you don't even need to learn new recipes or use any fancy extras.

All you need is good quality veggies (and a decent amount of it), and then you need to use them. No fancy recipes required, there is just one simple rule: whatever you are cooking, anything, always add extra vegetables. Adjust cooking times until veg are tender, and remember to add delicate greens towards the end to avoid overcooking. Don't think about it, just do it!

  • My favourite top tip: Veggies don't really like water - avoid boiling them! (boiled potatoes being the obvious exception). This is particularly true for brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale, spring green, sprouts) - whatever you do, do not boil them! Instead sauté or stew in olive oil, add garlic & spices, and you've got a tasty dish. Add something sharp and salty (anchovies, capers, olives, cheese...) for extra special umami savouriness.

  • Cooking a soup? Throw in extra onion, garlic and celery as a base, some cubed roots for body, and some greens for colour. If you prefer a smooth texture, grate any chunky veg, or blend the lot at the end.

  • Pasta sauce? Grate in a courgette or a beetroot, add extra fresh tomatoes and a handful of greens, a cubed aubergine or red pepper. Mushrooms, spinach and kohlrabi(!) go well in creamy sauces.

  • Any soft veg or even root veg cut in strips (use a potato peeler) can be stir fried with garlic and spices and served with rice (or any other grain or pulse).

  • Or let rice and greens stew in the same pot with stock and herbs until both grains and veg are tender and flavours infused.

  • Abundance of greens? Stir fry with olive oil, garlic and lemon, serve as a side dish to meat or fish, or add to a pot of lentils or beans.

  • Or serve sautéed greens on their own with crusty bread, adding substance by 'poaching' some eggs nestled in the greens. (Remember most greens will wilt down to nothing so use at least 2 large handfuls per person.)

  • Add cubed or grated roots and handfuls of greens into any stew.

  • Fancy mashed potato? Substitute half the potato with carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, and/or, most deliciously, celeriac root, cook as usual.

  • An omelette or savoury pancake? Add grated root veg or chopped greens to the batter, or eat with sautéed greens on top.

  • A sweet pancake? Add some grated apple or pear, or try carrot.

  • Fussy kids? Try veg burgers: Use any veg you can grate, mix with spices and cheese for taste and egg or quinoa to hold it together (add mashed beans or chickpeas for extra texture). Form balls or patties on a baking sheet and bake until crisp on the outside.

  • Green peas (or beans)? Rather than boil, soften in olive oil, adding finely chopped onion, carrot and herbs (French style) or onion, tomato and cubed potato (Greek style).

  • Have you tried roasting veggies? Roots, tomatoes, aubergines and caulis work particularly well. Chop roughly, spread on a tray, and roast with plenty of olive oil and spices until caramelised. Crumble some cheese on top at the end. Always a hit.

  • Caulis can also be roasted whole, covered in spices and olive oil (or coconut milk).

  • Last but not least: Try and get into the habit of adding a spoonful or two of fermented veggies (e.g. sauerkraut or kimchi) on the side. Adds a bit of zing to any dish, and offers lots of 'good gut' support (good bacteria and enzymes) besides an extra serving of veg.

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