It's Just All About Vegetables
Since getting my new kitchen all completed last year in my private practice set for all new cooking classes this year I have a few nifty gadgets in my kitchen which always amaze me. One of these is the Enjo fruit and vegetable cleaning product which I love to use, it cleans your fruits and vegetables without having to peel them. So you keep the good stuff on the fruits and vegetables by leaving the skin on but removing all the bacteria, dirt and fertilisers which we don’t want. Such a simple idea but so great. When using this product you want to also make sure that everything else about your vegetables is great.
So firstly, when shopping for vegetables always pick the ones which are not bruised, not mouldy or slimy. Choose vegetables with coloured leaves and those which appear crisp. If you are buying packaged vegetables (eg. pre-packed lettuce) make sure the package is not opened, is refrigerated, check the used by date and always consume before this date.
When storing your vegetables always wash them first with tap water (using no detergent) and then keep them in your crisper in your fridge. Potato, sweet potato, garlic and onion does not need to be refrigerated. Always keep your vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood as bacteria from these food sources could contaminate your vegetables and lead to food poisoning.
When preparing your vegetables always wash your hands first, use clean utensils and cutting boards and always use a separate cutting board to the cutting board you use to cut and prepare your meat, fish and poultry. This will ensure adequate hygiene, reduce cross contamination and risk of food poisoning. Always steam your vegetables, do not boil as many nutrients will be leached out into the water during boiling and then this water will be discarded and you will lose all the nutrients.
When I talk about vegetables with my clients I always discuss with them how much they need. Vegetables are very nutrient dense but low in kilojoules so ideal to bulk your meal up with vegetables to achieve an adequate portion of food but keeping the kilojoules low. So how many serves of vegetables do you need? An Australian adult is recommended to have five serves of vegetables per day, a serve is equivalent to 1 small potato, ½ cup of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad vegetables . It is difficult to achieve this amount if you leave your vegetable intake to the evening meal so always include vegetables and salad vegetables into your lunch. Vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks dipped into hommus as a mid meal snack can be a way to help achieve the five serves of vegetables too if you miss a serving at your main meal.
Which vegetable are best? Fresh and frozen vegetables are both as good. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables are great to keep in the freezer so you are never left without vegetables and is ideal to get your favourite vegetables if they are out of season. When shopping for canned vegetables always make sure the salt is low, label read and keep the sodium to less than 300mp per 100g.
Think of lots of colour when buying your vegetables. This will help to include a variety of antioxidants important for protecting the body against chronic disease such as heart disease and cancer. Choose vegetables such as capsicum, broccoli, spinach and tomato for a vitamin C boost, useful to help absorption of non haem iron (the type of iron found in breads and cereals) and important for skin health and hair health. Choose carrots, pumpkin, spinach for their vitamin A content and dark green leafy vegetables which is rich in folate which is important for pregnant women to protect the foetus against neural tube defects. All your vegetables are rich in fibre which is important for bowel health.
How to flavour your vegetables? Don’t add salt. Use your imagination, try vinegar, lemon or herbs and spices to flavour your vegetables. Head to the Go for 2&5 website www.gofor2and5.com.au for a range of delicious ways to cook with vegetables and how to use flavour to make them interesting.
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