Vegetables are nutrient powerhouses, with each type containing a combination of different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nature has cleverly made it simple for us to identify what foods we should be eating to improve aspects of health. So eating ‘the colours of the rainbow’ has a major benefit to our wellbeing, keeping our brains and bodies healthy.
For many years, getting the population to have their five-a-day has been the governments’ aim. Some manage it but others really struggle and of course, there are the children who leave or refuse to eat veg. So how do we get them to eat more?
Health by Stealth
This is something we looked at a few years back when I worked for a contract caterer, looking at how we could improve the fruit and veg intake of staff in a large call centre, a lot of it was ‘quick wins’.
Smoothies – a range of fresh smoothies using a combination of fruit juice and water and packing it full of fruit, in some cases veg.
Grab & Go – Fruit pots already peeled and cut up, vegetable batons with hummus, mixed bean & spinach pots with a boiled egg…that sort of thing.
Meat-free Mondays – Remove the meat for just 1 day and get creative with the veg, vegetable lasagne, root vegetable stew, stir-fries, let’s be flexitarian.
Hide that Veg – Soups are a great way of packing in the veg, as are sauces that you may use for pasta. As these can both be served blended it stops the desire to pick out the bits you don’t like.
Plant-based Products – These are a massive benefit to any operation as you can effectively cover a wide range of customers very easily. Vegan and vegetarian customers can get the same great dishes from a vegan sausage roll or pie to a jackfruit biriyani enriched with a plant-based cream and served with sprout bhaji, or an amazing dessert like a chocolate tart.
We all know that demand for vegetarian food is increasing, mainly driven by flexitarianism or casual vegetarianism. The rise of the flexitarian diet is a result of people taking a more environmentally sustainable approach to what they eat, by reducing their meat consumption in exchange for alternative protein sources.
The benefits of eating vegetables are massive, not just on your health but in other areas. The taste of a properly cooked vegetable is one of the best ways to accompany a meal – they are cheap compared to the same yield of protein and also much better for the environment.
Kindly contributed by Steve Midgley Consulting Development Chef, 30 years’ experience in fine dining, creating fantastic experiences at Michelin star restaurants.