Five a Day?
I can't be the only person who's had a busy day and not managed to eat their recommended
five portions a day of fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, even going completely
vegan doesn't necessarily mean you have a healthy diet. Consider the following
day's menu for one:
Breakfast - Beans on toast followed by porridge
- Peanut butter or hummous sandwiches, bag of crisps
Supper - Rice or pasta,
canned mixed pulses, canned sweetcorn and a jar of tomato pasta sauce.
low-hassle, tasty and quick, and will fill you up, but it's not exactly full of
fresh produce! Here are a few hints to increase your fruit and veg intake.
Baked beans are so much tastier with a few things added. It takes
less than a minute to peel and grate a carrot, or, even quicker (no peeling) a
courgette, directly into the saucepan or microwave dish before you put the beans
in. You don't even need to get out a knife; grate the unwanted end of the vegetable
straight into the bin, rather than chopping it off. If you have time to get out
the knife and chopping board, try finely-chopped peppers and mushrooms, too. Note
that whatever you use, you will probably prefer to simmer the beans for a little
while to cook the veg - ignore the bit on the can about it impairing the flavour.
You could also fry the veg in a little bit of oil before adding the beans, if
Just grate an apple or mash a banana directly into
your porridge bowl while the porridge is cooking; and mix in the porridge when
it's finished. I find that when I do this, I don't need any added sugar, either.
You could also cook some dried fruit in with the porridge for extra flavour.
is where a little planning-ahead does wonders. So you make your sandwich with
hummous bought in the supermarket? Fine; so do I. But I also take a few minutes
on one or two evenings a week (while I've probably got the knife, vegetable grater
and chopping board out already) to prepare a few days worth of salady bits to
go in as well - if your fridge is full with neat little containers of ready-chopped
salad, you're much more likely to actually put some in your sandwich.
I like include:
" carrot salad - grated carrot and finely-sliced onion
" thinly-sliced tomatoes
" sliced mushrooms fried in olive oil
with finely-chopped garlic
" roasted, peeled red peppers
courgettes fried in soya margarine with finely-chopped garlic and onion
raw chopped peppers and mushrooms mixed together (great with hummous or guacamole)
" finely-sliced crunchy lettuce, such as Little Gem or even Iceberg
roasted baby onions
If you buy your sandwiches from a sandwich shop, it shouldn't
be more than 20p or so extra to have extra chopped peppers or other salady stuff.
That's a pound a week for an extra portion of veg a day.
If you eat
rice more than once a fortnight, you will find it well worth your while to invest
in a rice cooker. Trust me on this one - I spent 9 years of cooking without one,
and now I'd hate to be parted from it. It's a real boon for a busy person, and
it produces rice much nicer than I've ever been able to manage in a pan.
Measure rice and water into the pot as normal, using just a little
more water than usual, then put one grated carrot per person on top (you can grate
it straight in; no need to dirty a plate). Spread the carrot out evenly, then
cook as normal; the carrot will take on a wonderful luminous orange colour. This
is nice sprinkled with a bit of sesame oil before serving, but it's also nice
Vegetable side dishes
If you like plain boiled veg with your meals,
then great; they're quick to do, and low-hassle, especially if you use frozen,
ready-prepared veg (either bought from the supermarket or home-frozen). However,
if the main part of your dinner is a veggie burger, or the aforementioned quick
canned beans in tomato sauce, you might want something a bit more interesting.
Either pick a day when you have a little more time than usual, and cook extra
of an interesting side dish, then put it in the fridge for busier days; or do
something quick in the microwave, such as the following recipe, which I got from
the FATFREE vegetarian emailing list in May 1999.
Quick Savoury Aubergine
some aubergine into chunks and put in a large microwaveable dish with soy sauce,
stock powder, dried herbs (basil is very nice), chilli sauce if you like it hot,
thinly sliced spring onions if convenient, and some boiling water. Cook on HIGH
for 4 minutes covered, then stir and cook for 4 minutes uncovered. Be careful
you don't put too much salty seasoning in at the start, though, as the aubergine
will get much smaller as it cooks, and the flavours will be concentrated. You
can do this with okra, too.
If you don't want to use the microwave (or don't
have one), the following dishes are quick and tasty, and also refrigerate well.
2 tsp soya margarine
2 cups cauliflower florets
(bell) pepper, sliced into small strips
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
pinch of chilli powder (optional)
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp light vegetable
Heat the soya margarine in a wide saucepan until just bubbling.
Add the cauliflower florets and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until
cauliflower begins to brown slightly. Add the red pepper strips and the garlic,
and continue to cook until pepper starts to wilt and garlic is beginning to brown.
Sprinkle over the remaining seasonings and add about 1/2 cm of boiling water to
the pan. Mix well, cover tightly and cook over low heat until cauliflower is softened
to your taste. Take the lid off the pan towards the end if there's too much liquid.
adapted from a post in the internet newsgroup rec.food.recipes.)
1 onion, sliced into thin half-moons
garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tbs paprika
1/2 medium head of cabbage,
shredded (can use green or white)
2 tbs tomato puree, or some chopped tomatoes
from a can
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
3 tbs sultanas or raisins
dark brown soft sugar
Saute the onion, garlic and paprika in the stock until
tender (you can use a bit of oil if you prefer). Add cabbage, mix and stir until
it wilts. Mix in everything else, with a bit more liquid if needed, and simmer,
uncovered, until cabbage is tender.
(Adapted from a soup recipe in Sue Kreitzmann's
Complete Low-Fat Cookbook.)