Making the most of fruit and vegetables
In a country like South Africa where there’s sunshine all year round, where citrus, Mediterranean and tropical fruits (and seasonal vegetables) grow in abundance the northern, southern and eastern provinces, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be a healthy nation! What’s more, wholesalers like ‘Fruit ‘n Veg City’, ‘The Apple Tree’ and ‘Fruit and Vegiland’ stock a healthy variety of these at affordable prices.
Prioritising raw fruit and vegetables with every meal has many health benefits. They provide all the minerals (like calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium) and vitamins that we need every day. They’re filling, provide roughage and prevent constipation. They give you a healthy, glowing skin and shining hair, support the immune system and give you energy. When properly prepared they’re delicious. Eaten raw, they’re good for your teeth.
Because the body stores proteins, sugars and fats, we don’t need to eat these every day. But we do need to eat fruit and vegetables because minerals and vitamins are mostly water soluble. This means that they need to be replaced daily. We should eat at least two fruits and vegetables with every meal.
Children don’t like eating vegetables when they’re overcooked. Then they’re colourless, odourless and tasteless!
Make vegetables appetising by eating them raw – in salads – stir-fried or grilled. Vegetables can also be baked in their skins – this helps to retain the goodness – or slow-cooked in a casserole, soup, stew or curry.
When boiled, cook only till soft but firm. Don’t throw the water away – keep it for gravy, soup or a casserole.
Don’t throw vegetable peels away. Thick potato peels can be grilled with olive oil to make tasty chips. Peels and pips can be added to your composter.
Season vegetables with spices and herbs rather than sauces and salt.
Combine colour and texture, taste and flavours.
- Don’t be over-ambitious when shopping for fruit and vegetables. You could overspend and buy too much and then it goes bad
- Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables – they’re they cheaper and naturally ripened
- Grow your own fruit and vegetables.
- Vegetables like egg plant, baby marrows, green pepper, mushrooms and pumpkin can be grilled. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil and spices.
- Oven-bake-chips or potato wedges. Soften these for a few minutes in the micro-wave before grilling with olive oil and spices
- Keep cucumber, celery and carrot sticks in a plastic container in the fridge for day-time snacking.
Don’t add sugar to fruits and eat these raw e.g. fruit-salad or kebab sticks.
Liquidise fruit to make smoothies or ice-lollies – add yogurt or ice-cream for a treat.
Combine fruit with jelly e.g. tinned pineapples / granadilla and coconut milk for dessert.
Add fruit to your baking e.g. bran muffins with mashed banana / grated apple or carrots or even baby marrow / raisons, dates or cranberries.
Put peels and left-over fruit pieces in the garden for the birds. You’ll attract an amazing variety.
- Parents set the example.
- You are what you eat.
- Bad eating affects your health e.g. type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and even some types of cancers
- Resist the junk-food revolution!
- Add fruit to the family’s lunch boxes.
- If your child is going to crèche, make sure there’s fruit and vegetables on the menu.
- Resist junk-food advertising.
- When you eat a healthy variety of fruit and vegetables, you don’t crave sweets and junk food.
- Make visits to fast food outlets a treat – not a regular event.
- Plan meals before you go shopping so that you buy only what you need, and use what you buy.
- Include family favourites and variety in these meal plans.
- Use your imagination when it comes to getting resistant toddlers and teens to eat more fruit and vegetables. Cut fruit into small pieces, arrange fruits into funny faces on a plate (for toddlers), make fruit smoothies or a fruit salad (for teenagers).
- For fussy eaters, sneak veggies and lentils into lasagne, soups, stews and pasta/rice dishes.