As the weather warms up it’s natural to be looking to cook lighter and fresher meals for our families. Incorporating more fruit and vegetables into our diet is the cornerstone of good healthy habit. They contain the nutrients we need, nurse whilst being low in calories.
The benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables will come as no surprise to anyone, discount so why don’t we eat more of it? I think it is because many of us lack the time it takes for food preparation – or, at least, to research new things to cook – so we end up making the same things over and over.
So, now is the time to break free from the routine and foster a little inspiration. Here are some thought starters to help in the process:
- Set a goal. How about, ‘eating 2 pieces of fruit a day?’ An apple in the morning and a banana in the afternoon. Then you can look at eating more vegetables with your lunch and dinner.
- Be sneaky. I’m a big fan of grating food so my kids don’t see it. Finely grated carrot or zucchini stirred into a pasta sauce tends to get by unnoticed.
- Try drinking it. A delicious fruit smoothie snack means that you can whizz up lots of nutritious fruit that your kids might not eat otherwise.
- Try something new. Buy something that’s in season that you have never had before. Fresh papaya, custard apples, lychees, persimmon … the list goes on. To save money and encourage more adventurous tastes, join a shopper’s co-op, where you get a box of fruit and vegetables delivered every week.
- Make dips for vegetable dipping. Hummus (chickpea dip) is simple enough, as is Tzatziki (greek cucumber yoghurt dip). Both add an element of fun to eating vegetables, especially if you make faces with them.
- Get organised. Get into the habit of washing, trimming and chopping up fresh vegetables as soon as you unload the groceries. That way you always have ready-made snacks on hand and don’t resort to eating unhealthy foods.
- Start a garden. An easy and fun way to eat fresh and healthy is to plant some herbs to accompany sauces and meats. They are easy to grow and it’s a fun experience for everyone to start a garden with your kids.
- Boost your breakfast with some berries (fresh or frozen), dried fruit or banana slices. Add them to your yoghurt, cereal or oatmeal to give one extra serving before the day gets into gear.
- Implement this list. Cherry-pick from this list or try it all. Complete one suggestion every week and see how it changes your eating habits. Better still, add your own ideas in the comments below, so we’ve all got more to try.
Of course, there’s another way to ensure you use more fruit and vegetables. In a word, attrition. Think about what you use as fresh vegetable substitutes – biscuits, pizza, frozen chips – and don’t buy them. So when you open the fridge door you are faced with a challenge – ‘what am I going to cook with this lot?’