With the weather getting colder and the days shorter it’s natural at this time of year to crave stodgy foods that provide quick energy and sometimes not a lot of nutrition. However with a bit of planning and a few tricks it’s easier than you think to cram in those vital nutrients from lots of fresh vegetables, and still not feel deprived of comfort food or flavour.
It’s amazing the amount of nutrients you can consume when whizzed into a soup and it’s a cheap meal too. Lots of lovely seasonal veg and a good quality stock, salt and pepper, blend, job done. You can keep things interesting by varying different herbs and spices each time. Why not try:
- Sweet potato and ginger
- Honeyed parsnip and thyme
- Roasted beetroot, smoked paprika and sour cream
- Butternut squash and leek
- Carrot and cumin
- Celeriac and apple
You might not think salads are a winter type food but you can keep them mainly seasonal and incorporate roasted vegetables, spices and starches to make them more satisfying for the colder weather. I like:
- Cumin roasted root vegetables with goats cheese
- Fig, walnut and watercress
- Brown rice, grated carrot/beetroot/courgette with peanut and lime dressing
- Quinoa, spicy roasted beetroot, avocado and pumpkin seeds
One of the things I love to do is make a really big frittata and keep it in the fridge for lunches and snacking on. You can just chop up or grate a huge pile of whatever vegetables you have, lightly steam or saute them (or ideally leave them raw for maximum nutrition), chuck them in a non stick frying pan with a few whisked free range eggs and bake until golden.
Try making houmous or other bean based dips with added vegetables such as cooked beetroot, spinach, carrot, peas or sun dried tomatoes. You can then eat it with crudites or rye crackers, or use it in sandwich fillings. As it’s blended you can really pack in the vitamins. The picture above is of Muhummara which is a roasted pepper and walnut dip (for recipe click here). Alternatively roast some brightly coloured root veg with cumin and puree with lemon juice, garlic and a little greek yogurt along with some flat leaf parsley…yum!
5) Swap your carbs
I used to find that in order to get a good portion of vegetables into my evening meal my dinner would end up huge! So now I usually swap my starchy carbohydrate portion such as pasta or mashed potato for steamed greens or roasted veg. It’s just as filling but you get many more nutrients.
6) Cut your meat
It’s beneficial to your overall health and the environment to eat less meat. Ideally a maximum of once or twice a week if you can’t cut it out completely. Our bodies haven’t evolved much from the days of the caveman and as they had to hunt their prey it is unlikely they would have eaten it much more often than this, with their diet mainly being vegan the majority of the time. With less meat on your plate you have more space for vitamin packed vegetables and plant based protein (where you can get all the nutrients and protein you need that you would find in meat). The picture above is a Vegan ‘Shepards’ Pie I made from a recipe by Jamie oliver, it was delicious and even my meat loving partner didn’t miss his usual fix!
7) Prioritise the veg
As with above try to base each meal around vegetables first, rather than thinking of them as an accompaniment. Fill your sandwiches or wraps at lunch with raw grated vegetables and replace the meat in your usual dinner choices with a vegetarian protein alternative (such as beans, pulses, quinoa, mushrooms)
Once you start to incorporate these types of food into your daily lifestyle it becomes easy to eat a much more nutrient dense diet and not miss meat or feel deprived and certainly not crave stodgy empty calorie foods.