Just not getting the kids to eat the quantity of veggies they should (or any)? Know you’re not consuming enough? We hear you. It can be hard to get family members to love eating what they ought to, and even sneaking in the required veg can be a tough task.
As we all know, though, vegetables are essential for a healthy diet and should be part of our five a day. They’re a source of vitamins and minerals, and of the dietary fibre that keeps your gut healthy. They can also help reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.
So, how to eat more veg? We’ve got some brilliant tips from favourite chef Jamie Oliver that will get your family’s (and your) numbers up. And if you’re searching for more veggie-packed and delicious recipes, head over to our food hub for loads of fab recipes.
- Special thanks to Tesco for sharing these tips with us
1. Smuggle courgette and carrot into spaghetti bolognese
Spaghetti bolognese is a family favourite and the perfect vehicle for some stealthy additions that should go down a treat. Jamie suggests using both courgette and carrot along with the onion and celery that form the base of this dish. Just use a box grater to prepare them and add them to the meat when you’re cooking the recipe as usual. The other plus point of using these veggies in a spag bol, Jamie says, is that you’ll stretch the meat further, so you’ll get more value from your shopping basket. Good news.
2. Try butternut squash in a meat curry
While we’re on the subject of making the meat you buy go further (as well as ensuring your family meals are healthier), Jamie recommends adding chopped butternut squash to a curry made with meat. As with his spaghetti bolognese additions, the result is you’ll need less meat for the dish, so you can make savings.
3. Use frozen mixed veg in chilli con carne
We like this idea from Jamie, which we’ll be adopting for a whole load of dishes along with chill con carne. All you need to do is add frozen mixed vegetables to the mixture at the end of the cooking process, and mash them in. Not only will this subterfuge get reluctant kids to eat a whole range of heathy veg, but it will also add flavour and texture. An all-round good result.
4. Green up pesto pasta with broccoli or green beans
It IS important to eat your greens, and plenty of ’em. A top tip from Jamie to get more in the family diet? Add broccoli or green beans to the penne when you’re cooking pesto pasta. Don’t put them in until near the end of the cooking process, though, as they need far less time than your pasta does and nobody should be forced to eat soggy veg.
5. Add parsnip and celeriac to shepherd’s pie
Here’s another family classic everyone is glad to see served up, and about which they won’t have any suspicions. Yet, following Jamie’s advice, you will have fed them extra veggies. How? All you need to do is peel parsnips and celeriac and add them to the pan with your potatoes to boil up ready for the mash topping. Easy-peasy.
6. Turn spaghetti green with cavolo nero
Jamie’s family love this dish, so give it a try. Green spaghetti has a novelty value that your family might adore. You’ll need to add cavolo nero leaves along with garlic in the last five minutes of the spaghetti cooking process. The take out the leaves and garlic cloves, put them in a blender and whizz them along with some olive oil and parmesan. Then drain the pasta, add the sauce and some ricotta. It’s delicious – and very green indeed.
7. Make a noodle stir fry packed with veggies
Jamie makes the most of veg when he’s making a noodle stir fry. Think sugar snap peas, carrot, broccoli, and spring onions, for example, but go with what’s in season for the tastiest dish. Jamie stir fries the veg along with mushrooms, adds a sauce, too, and serves with a fried egg on top.
8. Make quiche with extra veggies
It’s super simple to pack the veggies into a homemade quiche. OK, we know this won’t make it past the biggest veg swervers because they can still spot them, but with everyone else it’s an easy way to help reach the five a day target. For a quick quiche, you might like to take a leaf out of Jamie’s cookbook, and use filo pastry instead of shortcrust.
9. Cook up sweet potato as wedges or a topping
Sweet potato counts as one of your five a day, Jamie says. Serve it up as wedges or follow Jamie’s example and use it to make a healthy and tasty topping for a tray bake. Sweet potatoes are easy to cook. Scrub and slice lengthways into quarters, rub with olive oil, and season. You can put them on the bars of the oven cut-side up at 200ºC/400ºF/GM6 for 30 minutes or until softened, Jamie says.
10. Make the most of the summer’s tomatoes
Jamie has plenty of strategies for getting these into your five a day allowance. Make a tomato salsa and you can put it in a burger, use with salmon or chicken, serve with a taco, or with a tortilla. Oh, and don’t leave your tomatoes in the fridge, says Jamie. Instead let them have a sunbathe on the windowsill for maximum flavour.