Thursday, January 7, 2010

The low down on veg

Mothers have been urging their reluctant children to eat up their vegetables for generations. More than likely, some of you have had this same battle with your own children.
Vegetables are complex carbohydrates. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre - a great food for improving overall health and preventing disease. Plus, the vast selection and beautiful colours are a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
It's best to eat vegetables raw, because the vitamins and minerals are easily destroyed by cooking. But unless you live in a very hot climate, and you only want to eat salads, you are going to be cooking vegetables most/a lot of the time. The most conservative way to cook veg is steaming - the nutrients are not boiled away in the cooking water. Otherwise, stirfrying or microwaving is probably a good way to go. Whatever cooking method you use, just remember to cook for the shortest possible time, in the least amount of water.
For optimum nutrition, your daily veg intake should be varied - that means branching out from the stock standard peas and carrots every night. Try something different for a change. How about artichokes, okra or fennel bulb?
Did you know:
Artichokes and green celery leaves contain natural insulin?
Cucumber is rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium and vitamin C?
Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C, and lycopene?
Carrots are very high in vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and iron?
My top five vegetables for boosting health are: broccoli and spinach; butternut and carrots; and tomatoes and beetroot. My favourite veg - for flavour and versatility: tomatoes and broccoli.
All vegetables are good, regardless of whether they come to you fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.
All the experts are always on about '5-a-day' They are talking about five servings per day of vegetables and fruit. Personally, I would rather see that as '5 veg-a-day, and fruit over and above the 5. Anyway, a minimum of 3 servings a day is what's recommended, so: 1 serving of vegetables is equivalent to: 3Tblsp of cooked vegetables; OR 2 cups of raw leafy veg (lettuce, spinach); OR 1/2 cup vegetable juice.
So today, our friend, Sally Avridge, is having:
a mixed salad (1 cup lettuce, 1/2 cup tomato and cucumber, and 1/2 cup of cooked beetroot) with her lunchtime whole wheat sandwich, and
1 cup of tinned chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup of mushrooms and 1/2 an onion as the sauce over her pasta.
That's 3 and 1/2 servings of vegetables - not so difficult, was it, Sally?
Would you like some fruit tomorrow? Yes? Okay, fruit it is.

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