Spring is Coming! A celebration.

Maintaining a balanced diet is the first casualty of a busy lifestyle. I often wonder what on earth we women did when we left the home and went out to work. (Please, no spam about this. I am ancient enough to have been a part of that movement and I will bore you to death with stories should you dare spam me about this. It was an exciting, exilerating time for women. But now? We rock the cradle, clean the house AND run a business.)

It is especially difficult if you are vegetarian (and, like me, do not eat eggs). Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But, yes, still I struggle to eat my 5 veggies and 2 fruits a day. It is hilarious what I will call a veggie, just to make the numbers match. A bunch of parsley whizzed into a sauce? Add 1 veggie. A bunch of coriander magic’d into an Indian chutney? Add another veggie. You would think eating vegetarian would make it easier, but, well, a meal of rice and dal and maybe a veggie curry does not make the math.

I have taken to asking my local coffee shop for one of their wonderful rolls for lunch – and can you add lettuce and tomato to that? Maybe some grilled zucchini on lettuce on the side? If I can just add another veggie or two – that would be something!

There is a lot of evidence now that a vegetarian diet (and that means NO meat and NO fish) reduces risk of several degenerative diseases and conditions. It also makes you feel a hell of a lot different. When I finally gave up my occasional piece of fish, and then, later, eggs, I felt lighter. Yes, lighter. It is not surprising – vegetarian diets are a lot more lighter on your digestive system – but to feel that physically? Amazing. And then my whole house felt different. Easier, lighter, more beautiful. I mentioned it to a Swami one day, and he said “of course”. There are a whole lot of metaphysical things that occur in a place that contains dead meat.

Not that I want you to change your diet. My diet is MY choice. Your diet is YOUR choice. If you do change, do it gradually, and seek advice. Balancing all nutritional needs takes a bit of re-education if you are used to getting most of them from one source. I am not qualified to talk about balanced nutritional needs, but whether you are vegetarian or not, we can all do well to eat more veggies.

Spring is so nearly here. Sunny days, 1 layer of clothing removed. Sitting on the balcony to do my paperwork. The heater off at night. The markets are full of “end of winter” AND “beginning of spring” vegetables. In celebration of the transition, here are some vegetable hints. Eat well, my friend.

Choose carefully
Choose your vegetables carefully – big is not necessarily better. Fresh is always best, seasonal ensures maximum flavour and nutrition, and value for money.

Be creative
Cook your vegetables creatively – BBQ, grill, braise, boil, microwave, roast, sauté, steam, stirfry. Roast cauliflower tossed in olive oil and salt. Steam brussel sprouts and toss in cream and nutmeg. Braise cucumbers in butter. Roast sweet potato, split and serve with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar! Roast baby fennel.

Don’t be afraid to mash veggies up, add some spices and use as a dip. Carrot and Moroccan spices, for example. Grated carrot, thick yoghurt and cumin. Cucumber, yoghurt and dill. Pumpkin with hot spices. Yum.

Do salads
Experiment outside of the traditional greens. For example, grate carrots or raw beetroots, toss with dill or cumin seed, and mix with yoghurt. Add salt and a touch of white pepper (optional).  Roast some onions and toss with diced tomato. Add sprinklings of nuts and seeds to salads. Cube some tofu, dry sauté it and add to a salad. Add goat cheese, curd or thick thick yoghurt to slices of red tomato and drizzle with olive oil.

Add herbs to your salads. Mint and lettuce. Roasted capsicums and capers with garlic dressing.  Warm spinach with toasted pinenuts, parmesan and black pepper. Any freshly grilled vegetable sprinkled with parsley, or tarragon, new potatoes tossed with parsley.

Do combinations
Steam carrots and parsnips and mash with a little butter or olive oil. Slice potatoes and onions and layer in an ovenproof dish, add some milk or cream and bake uncovered for 1.5 hrs. Or slice zucchini and tomato and layer them, top with breadcrumbs, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and dobs of butter, and bake for 30 – 60 mins. Or use tomatoes and sweet onions.

Stirfry broccoli florets with bok choy leaves. Add some sliced Chinese Cabbage. Some chilli. Finish with bean sprouts and Chinese mushroom sauce. Make sweet corn and spring onion fritters.

Use herbs, spices and oils
Toss snow peas in brown butter and fried sage leaves. Roast parsnips with fresh thyme fronds. Take new potatoes and toss in a saucepan with ghee or olive oil, sprinkle liberally with a curry powder and some salt. Cook over low heat, tossing occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked. Add a pinch of cumin to mashed potatoes. Make a basil and beetroot salad.

Now, I am Vata, which means that oils in foods are good for me. If oil is not a problem for you, you can experiment wonderfully with different oils – walnut oil in dressings, mustard oil with wilted greens or drizzled over a thick creamed vegetable soup, olive oil over vegetables ready for baking, grapeseed oil  with fruity salads. Splurge on a bottle of the VERY BEST olive oil for the occasional and very simple use in ways that do not involve cooking – over soups, in simple dressings, over cooked pasta, …

Throw it on, or in ….
Throw grated, chopped, cubed or chunked vegetables on a pasta base. French beans, garlic, olive oil and pasta? Yum. Grated carrot, grated raw beetroot, a bit of cream, salt and white pepper? Yum. Mushrooms and a touch of balsamic. Steamed asparagus, baby beans and parmesan. Tomatoes and basil. Yum. Experiment.

Make (or buy) a pizza base. Add grated, chopped, cubed or chunked vegetables. Cheese. Bake. Yum. Zuchinni, olives and parmesan. Potatoes, rosemary and sea salt. Fetta, olives and oregano – add rocket when it is cooked. Rocket and curd. Tomatoes, garlic and mozzarella.

Make risotto. Add baked pumpkin. Or some mushrooms. Peas. French beans. Allow greens to wilt in the heat of the rice. Stir in some wine, or cream, or butter, or cheese (or all four – in moderation of course). Broad beans and some butter. Fresh basil and rocket. Black olives and roast pumpkin. Lemon zest, basil, diced tomatoes and butter. Even frozen peas with some mint.

Left over risotto? Add a grated carrot and some cheese, form into patties and heat through in a frying pan.

Use bread. Make bruschetta, sandwiches, toasted sandwiches with cheese, pan bagna (stuffed loaves), jaffles and those wonderful Indian sandwich things that are grilled and SO VERY DELICIOUS. (If you know the name, can you tell me?) Try grilled eggplant and mozzarella, roast capsicums with olives and fresh basil, grilled onions with sea salt and black pepper, red onions and goat cheese, thick thick yoghurt with anything. Mustard and avocado.

You would think that…
with all of those ideas, I would have it made. Able to eat 7 veggies at a single sitting. I still struggle. I only eat 7 (or more) veggies at one time when I eat at my parents place! They sure know how to do the 5+2 every single day.

Roll on Spring.

Read Some More

From the Salads Series

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

StumbleUpon Toolbar

More Cooking, Food and Recipes:

Peppered Rice Recipe Tempting Food 10 Stewed Parsley Recipe Pomegranate Walnut Salad Recipe Tempting Number 8 Tempting Number 7 Crumpet Recipe Tempting Links Tips and Recipes Yellow for Bri Gratineed Tomatoes with Cheese Recipe Tempting Recipes 1 Ginger Garlic Lentil Soup Recipe

About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
This entry was posted in 09 Early Spring, Beetroot, Bread, Broad Beans, Capsicums, Carrots, Cucumber, Eggplant, garlic, Italian, Lentils, Grains, Rice and Nuts, Olives, Pasta, Potato, Pumpkin, Salads, Soups, Spices and Herbs, Spinach, Sweet Potato, Tofu, Yoghurt and Paneer, Tomatoes, VEGETARIAN, Zucchini and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Spring is Coming! A celebration.

  1. stilllifeinbuenosaires says:

    I am so happy about your post. I am a vegetarian in a cooking rut where I only make curry, scrambled eggs, and sandwiches. Thanks for the fresh ideas and encouragement!

    Glad to help. Good luck with your foray into some exciting alternatives.

  2. bee says:

    hey, you forgot potato chips. now that’s one veggie down. and peanut butter is a leguminous veggie, no? the piece of curry leaf i bit by mistake in the upma?

    what about chocolate? that’s a cacao beany veggie. i get plenty. maybe 12 veggies in a sitting? :D

    Oh bother, I did totally forget them. Bring out the chocolate and chips. And the Tim Tams too.

  3. Srivalli says:

    What a great post G, its nice to know you have dropped eggs too!..I dont’ too and its so difficult to make my daughter understand that mama doesn’t eat even eggs..she was so disappointed and said eggs and chicken are good for her, just as I say for her…:)..

    but to add so many veggies..yes it takes planning..you have given such excellent ideas..will check back when I am in doubt!…trust bee to talk abt chocolate..my fav!..:)

    It must be so hard with kids. Here, our TV ads scream at us about how good meat is and how we must have it. When asked about my choice, I tell people that we are the only species on earth that can choose to not kill another being to survive. That eating meat is a habit, a comfort thing, a luxury that we don’t actually need to survive. That all nutrients that we need can be found in plants and nuts and seeds, without the need for killing.

    You could also sell your daughter on the beauty aspect – skin looks better, you live longer, it is easier to keep the weight off. That should do it!

  4. Aparna says:

    Its true. I’ve been vegetarian all my life (the occasional does appear in bakes mostly) and yet finding it difficult to fulfill the 5+2!
    Of course, Bee does have this unique take on things.:) She has a legume cupcake frosting at Jugalbandi.

    According to Amberjee, it is only 5 in total in the UK. We should all shift there, it would be so much easier!

  5. amberjee says:

    In the UK apparently we only need to eat a total of 5 fruits and vegetables. He he. Lower standards.

    Oh, I am thinking of so many lines to reply to that – but I better just keep my mouth shut!

  6. amberjee says:

    ps, i also read on a lentil packet that it counts towards your ‘5 a day’. it just gets easier and easier. now where is that takeaway pizza number …?

  7. arundathi says:

    i’ve been vegetarian for about 20 years – and let me tell you, it was the most difficult when i am on a diet! you would think veggies are good for a diet, but no – every single veggie appetizer in restaurants is deep fried, and all entrees are usually loaded with cheese and butter.

    In India, there isn’t even an option to get a green salad because the greens are terrible and old.

    i just couldn’t stop eating eggs – it literally “saves” me from eating nothing sometimes!

    I hear you about the eggs. It took me a lot longer to give them up than anything else. Once you have done that there are no real ‘quick’ meals left. I don’t eat a lot of bread, so sandwiches are out for being quick (having to run down to the shop to get bread does not make it quick). Nuts are my saviour for a quick snack, but they are calorie laden, I’m afraid. Salads are good too, with some stir fried tofu or cubes of cheese, nuts sprinkled over the top. Pasta if I want something hot.

  8. sangeeth says:

    great post da….luved ur first pic……welcome to vegan world!!!! though i am not :) yet!

    Not quite Vegan – I am what is called Hindu Vegetarian – no eggs, but still Ok with dairy. Good luck with your journey to Veganism. And hey thanks for noticing the pics.

  9. Priya says:

    This is a post I need to come back and read again an again so the ideas stick :) you’ve given out a wonderful collection of ideas, thanks a ton! and just like you replied to Arundathi, I don’t eat too much bread, so nuts and pasta it is. But I am going to move to salads just to try out all the dressings you’ve listed :))

    Fabulous – glad that you could found it so helpful.

  10. Vaishali says:

    How true, VegeYum: I feel much lighter too after moving to a vegan diet. And I admit I too struggle to get all the veggies I need in my diet, despite the fact that I could eat them any time of the day! By the way, and I’m not kidding, did you know dal can be counted as a veggie too?

    I did know! Thank goodness for that. I cooked an urad and tomato dal today so that added a couple to the count. With some hummus and a glass of juice for breakfast, the count is soaring! :-)

  11. Thanks for the link! I’m so glad I found your blog this way. Your photos are gorgeous, and I love your recipe ideas. I’ll be back. :-)

    Hey thanks! Glad to meet you and see you soon.

  12. kathryn says:

    Squeezing those vegetables in, is absolutely the way to go. And I’m always asking cafes and take-aways for just a bit more. Can I have that with a side salad? Could you put double the cucumber on? Can I have fewer noodles and more vegies? Can you fill up the container with tomato slices? Anything to tweak the balance of what I’m eating.

    It does take constant focus, doesn’t it. Today I added some bok choy leaves to a bowl of lentil soup. Just a little thing, but increased the veggie count. I love your approach to cucumber and tomato.

  13. VegeYum, what an interesting post! Particularly as my vegetarian diet is ‘imposed’ on me by the chef of the house. Over here, it is only 5 a day, so come over and visit when you can! I must say, I do feel healthier these days than when I ate too much meat. Now I eat meat and fish once in a while, and that’s more than enough. It’s amazing how much you can do with simple, delicious vegetables! I’ll tell the husband to read this…

    Yes, well, actually, I consider myself to have done very good if I get to 5 each day. 7 seems to be stretching it a bit far – I just don’t eat that much! Often it is not that I am filling myself up on other stuff it is just that I do not eat that much, and still get some tofu, nuts, some oats or rice etc each day. So I aim for 5 and get a gold star if I achieve it.

  14. Pingback: Bean Paruppu Usili (Green Bean Paruppu Puttu): Green Beans with a Lentil Crumble. Delightfulness from Sth India. | A Life (Time) of Cooking

  15. Pingback: June, 2004: Kombu Baked Vegetables. from the Archives. | Heat in The Kitchen

  16. Pingback: Bill’s Spring Vegetable Soup with Winter Vegetables. From The Archives. July, 2002. | Heat in The Kitchen

Welcome! I hope you are enjoying what you see here. Thank you so much for your comment and your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s