How many of us remember being told as children to 'eat our greens'. Our parents were right in encouraging us to eat green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale and cabbage. They are a rich source of potassium, magnesium, iron and B Vitamins. They are high in fibre and low in fat and calories. Greens are also high in antioxidants that have been linked to the prevention of certain cancers.
Health experts now tells us that we should not only be eating at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day but that these should be a variety of colours as well. Many of the naturally occurring chemicals that give fruit and vegetables their bright colours also help keep us free from disease. They act as antioxidants which can help to protect against heart disease, cancer, cataracts and premature ageing. So don't just think green when you are choosing your vegetables but also red (peppers, tomatoes, radishes and red cabbage), orange (carrots, sweet potato and squash), yellow (peppers, sweetcorn, yellow courgettes) and purple (aubergines, purple sprouting broccoli and purple cabbage).
I find that a great way to incorporate a wide variety of vegetables into a meal is in a vegetable curry. I first started making these about a year ago when we decided as a family to eat at least one meal a week meat free. This was as a result of watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's series River Veg Everyday where he went meat free for three months. I have found the book which accompanied the series a great source for inspiring recipes . The vegetable curry below is one I have adapted from a Waitrose recipe. I find the vegetables soak up the spices really well and you really don't notice it doesn't contain any meat. In the summer I like to make it using new potatoes, courgettes and peppers. In the winter you could use sweet potatoes, squash and kale. It's good to serve it with basmati rice and an extra serving of vegetables such as cabbage or broccoli. If you did this you could almost get your 'five a day' from this one meal!
1 large onion peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
400g new potatoes chopped in half or quarters
3 courgettes sliced
2 peppers (red, orange or yellow) deseeded and cut into chunks
2 tomatoes chopped
2 tablespoons of medium curry powder
2 tablespoons of mango chutney
300ml of vegetable stock
400ml can light coconut milk
Heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large heavy based pan
Add the onion and cook over a low heat for 5-10 minutes until softened and golden
Add the garlic, ginger, potatoes and peppers and cook for a furthur 5-10 minutes
Add the curry powder and stir to coat the vegetables in the spices
Stir in the tomatoes and chutney
Pour in the vegetable stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil
Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until the veg is almost tender
Add the courgettes and simmer for another 5 minutes
Serve with basmati rice and a green vegetable such as cabbage or broccoli