Veggies might have a bad rep for being a bit boring, but they can really be jazzed up to make some of the scrummiest dishes around. Think curries, bean chillis, warming soups and guacamole! The dark green leafy kind are some of the most nutrient dense foods out there, so we really need to be getting more of them into our bodies. From glowing skin, to sustained energy and general well-being, plant based diets are a sure-fire way to getting you in the best shape and health this 2016!
The Goodness of Greens…
Veggies are packed with potent compounds that are very difficult to find anywhere else in the same concentration. Green veggies are an amazing source of minerals, most notably magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. They also contain a high number of vitamins such as Vitamins A, C, E, K and B, lots of dietary fibre, folic acid and beta carotene.
Dark green leafy veggies, such as spinach and kale, are a particularly good source of carotenoids – these act as antioxidants, helping to protect the body against cellular damage, the development of tumours and harmful organisms in the body.
Try to buy organic as much as possible, as veggies contain twice the vitamin and mineral content. When we feed our body with so much goodness, we no longer crave energy in the form of sugar to prop us up. Try a green juice when you are feeling tired, and you will notice that natural boost in energy and a welcome decrease in sugar cravings.
See below how to sneak more vegetables in your diet without compromising on taste!
Soups and Smoothies
Juices and smoothies are a great way to incorporate more veggies into your diet. Aim to use more veggies than fruit when preparing fresh juices in order to increase your nutrient intake, while avoiding any sugar spikes on your blood sugar levels. Make sure to pop some form of fat into your smoothies or soups too as this will increase the nutrient absorption by our bodies. This could be in the form of nut butter, tahini, avocado or chia seeds. These will also thicken your smoothies and soups, and give them that desired creamy and indulgent texture.
Soups can often be perceived as bland but you really can make them delicious by adding a source of fat (like olive oil or coconut oil) or lots of herbs to bring out the flavour and popping in diced veggies will make for a heart warming broth with lots of texture. Another scrummy option is to make a coconut based veggie curry such as Madeleine Shaw’s Thai coconut prawn courgetti soup which is comforting and warm, yet has a spicy kick to it! Another favourite is Deliciously Ella’s sweet potato and chickpea stew, bursting with fibre to keep you really satisfied!
We would also recommend Zita Steyn’s beautiful book ‘Good better Green;’ a beautiful collection of inventive recipes to help you increase your green intake, from soups and risottos to smoothies and even veggie based cakes!
Swapping meat based meals to veggie based
Personal trainer to the stars, Dalton Wong’s book The Feel Good plan, emphasizes the importance of pairing our veggies with flavoursome foods so we start to associate them with tastiness. Sauté spinach in coconut oil, garlic and lemon, or grate parmesan over kale. You will begin to form a positive association with the taste of veggies and soon be loving them all by themselves!
We love veggie-based curries, such as squash, spinach and coconut lentil curry; slow cooking these over a low heat will ensure incredibly comforting dishes and beautiful depth of flavour. Roasted veggies are also packed with goodness, paired with hummus and a tahini lemon or fresh pesto dressing to make a yummy and fibre packed lunch to pop in your tupperware.
Our current fave veggies to include in our diets…
Sweet Potatoes; we at Hip & Healthy believe that avoiding carbs is a no-go. We all need our daily dose of energy and these gems are the perfect source of slow releasing carbohydrates. Bake them with cinnamon and top with hummus or feta, or slice up, roast in paprika and drizzle with coconut oil to get your French frie fix, minus the guilt!
Brussel sprouts; these are nutritional powerhouses – we know some of you will be flinching at the thought, but have you tried roasted Brussel sprouts? Any hint of bitterness you might associate with them is replaced by a subtle, caramelised sweetness! Drizzle in olive or coconut oil before seasoning and roasting for a delicious veggie side-dish, bursting with goodness.
The humble green pea; cheap and cheerful, little green peas are bursting with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, as well as omega 3 fats – who knew? Whip up a simple soup by blending peas, veggie stock, spinach, tahini, coconut oil and lemon for a cleansing yet delicious dinner made in minutes.
Spinach; no surprise there! A plant with incredible benefits which will increase vitality, energy, and purify the blood. Try Deliciously Ella’s tasty salad that doesn’t really taste like a salad at all – wilted spinach coated in creamy tahini with bursts of sweet sundriedd tomatoes and smoky roasted aubergine. Thank you Ella!
words by Flora Crichton