As a mother of two children and a qualified Dietitian for over 10 years, if I got given a pound for every time I heard those words I could retire.
Fruit and vegetables have long been identified as having beneficial properties in preventing certain diseases i.e. obesity, high cholesterol and constipation to name a few.
Fruit and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fibre that the body needs to help maintain a healthy balance.
Unfortunately, vegetables can turn out to be children’s and adults least favourite food.
The Department of Health recommends 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily
1 portion is 2-3 tablespoons of vegetables.
-1 piece of fruit i.e. apple, orange.
– A small bowl of salad.
– 1 handful of grapes, strawberries or other berries.
For more portion ideas see www.nhs.uk/Livewell/5ADAY/Pages/Portionsizes.aspx
So how can we get the family to start saying “I like them!”
Here are a few simple ideas for VEGETABLES.
Variety is very important, try not to stick to carrots and peas, think of all the vegetables starting with A Ackee, Artichoke, Aubergine, to T tomato. The majority of vegetables are available all year round now, fresh or frozen, and not just in season so trial some different vegetables.
Establish vegetables/salad at each evening meal. Remember that we have to taste something at least 10 times for us to like a flavour; hence this is a good routine to follow for our taste buds and health. Here are some meal ideas with veggies included:
• Fish fingers, oven chips with green beans & carrots
• Risotto rice with peas
• Chicken curry with a tin of chick peas added serve with rice
• Sausages, mashed potato, roasted parsnips & butternut squash and gravy
• Chicken breast grilled with potato wedges,salsa sauce, corn on the cob and
• Pasta & cauliflower or broccoli cheese bake
• Takeaway curry- try a side order of Saag Aloo- spinach & potato or Aloo Gobi- potato & cauliflower
Grate the following for a change to your green salad, around 5-6 portions in this salad
• 1 raw carrot
• Half a raw celeriac
• Half a cucumber
• 1 pear
Emotions- If you don’t like a vegetable yourself try not to show your child your dislike, let them make up their own minds. Don’t cajole bribe or push your child to try different vegetables, battles over food will only make situations worse. Remember that mealtimes are not just for nourishment but in our busy lifestyles they are a chance for the family to get together. If mealtimes are becoming frustrating (believe me my husband and I have been there!) try to put things into perspective and keep calm, if your children won’t try the vegetables today, tomorrow is another day! Patience and persistence is the key.
Tomatoes are a great versatile… fruit actually, but as we use them more in savoury foods they are included.
• Raw tomatoes with a salad.
• Grilled tomatoes on your beef burger.
• Tomato puree on your pizza base.
• Tinned tomatoes with a breakfast i.e. with grilled bacon, scrambled egg and toast.
• Sun dried tomatoes mixed into a rice kedgeree or risotto.
• Italian tomato sauce made with tinned or fresh tomatoes (see Italian bolognese sauce recipe below).
• Tomato or minestrone soup.
Add vegetables to make the base of a fantastic tasty Italian bolognese sauce. And no one will ever see a vegetable! If you are working the next day get the veg and meat prepared the night before and a slow cooker is a wise investment. Around 6-8 portions of vegetables in this dish.
• 1 raw carrot, 1 raw courgette, 1 red pepper, 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves.
• Chop all of the above into small pieces (an electric chopper is very time saving).
• Fry the veg for 10 minutes with a splash of olive oil.
• Transfer the cooked veggies into a large pan with a lid or a slow cooker.
•Fry your beef or pork mince in the same pan and for more flavour add 3 rashes of bacon chopped up (optional).
•Transfer the browned meat to the large pan with the veggies then add 1-2 tins of tomatoes.
• Add one chicken stock cube, a pinch of paprika, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano or basil and season with salt & pepper.
If you need more fluid add a drop of water.
• Mix together well and cook on low for at least 2-6 hours or better still put your slow cooker on first thing and it will be ready when
you get home from work.
• Serve with pasta/rice or jacket potato.
Beans and lentils are great and versatile and they contain high amounts of fibre. Here are some ideas for beans/lentils to be added into your cooking.
• Chicken fajita mix with wraps, add a tin of mixed beans into the mix.
• Next time you have a takeaway curry try
one of the lentil dishes called dhals i.e.
• Baked beans on toast
• Red kidney beans in a chili-con-carne
• Bolotti beans added into stews or
• Pearl barley added into a chicken or steak
Light up your family meals with a range of recipes that are quick, nutritious, and easy to make. We all have a list of meals that we cook in the week and have perfected so that the family enjoys. My favourite chefs are Nigella Lawson who is great for working parents as it cuts corners without impairing taste. Jamie Oliver is a true lover of vegetables and fruit and the majority of his meals are based around these. Check out websites for “free recipes” or look for the free recipe cards in your supermarket.
Eat up your vegetables in front of the kids. A lot of adults who don’t like vegetables often can trace back their dislike from their childhood. They may have been forced to eat them and thus created bad experiences of vegetables. This is not the way to get children eating veg and can result in food aversion to vegetables, if carried on throughout adulthood can increase the risk of developing diseases. Children copy role models and if you can overcome your dislike of vegetables, then your children can see that they are part of a healthy balanced meal and not something to be avoided.
Stews, soups and stir-frys are a great way of utilizing your vegetables. Fresh, frozen, tinned and dried veg all counts to your portion requirements.
• Fresh- broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas,
baby sweetcorn, onions, peppers.
• Frozen- corn on the cob, roasted peppers,
roasted parsnips, mixed vegetables, peas,
• Tinned- beans, mushy peas, chick-peas.
• Dried- mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes.
Get experimenting with veggies!
If you would like to discuss your diet with a registered Dietitian then please discuss this with your Doctor GP.
Our thanks to Claire Chaudhry for providing the information for this feature. Claire is employed in the NHS as a Community Dietitian based in Wrexham/Flintshire, her special interests are Diabetes, Obesity and Healthy eating.