Seasonal Cooking | 6 Ways to Cook and Eat for Healthy Living in Spring

For those parts of the world that are moving into Spring, inspiration for healthy spring eating.

Apples and Autumn

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, exhilarating time for women. But now? We rock the cradle, clean the house AND run a business.)

French Braised Peas and Broad Beans

It is especially difficult if you are vegetarian (and, like me, do not eat eggs). Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But, yes, there was a time that I struggled to eat 5 veggies and 2 fruits a day. It is hilarious what I would 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 took 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 or lettuce on the side? If I can just add another veggie or two – that would be something! It did help.

But what has helped the most is taking the time to make my own lunches, and preparing much of the dinner meal early in the day. This has meant that I no longer need to eat from sheer hunger in the middle of a busy day and as a result, buy meals that are not so conducive to healthy living.

The side benefit of eating really really well – little processed food, fresh ingredients, no meat etc – is more energy and a clearer mind.

Spring in London

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 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.

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 wonderful when it is almost here. Sunny days, 1 layer of clothing removed. Sitting on the balcony to do my paperwork. The heater off at night. The markets 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 brussels sprouts and toss in a tiny bit of cream and nutmeg. Braise cucumbers in butter. Roast sweet potato, split and serve with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar! Roast baby fennel.

French Buttered Radishes with Herbed salt

 

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. Broad Beans with Herbs. Yum.

Umbrian Sauce for a Cure | Salsa di Curata | Herby Mustard Sauce or Dressing

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.

Sweet Red Pepper Salad

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.

Beetroot, Orange and Olive Salad

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. Broad Beans. Yum. Experiment.

Orrechiette with Broad Beans

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

Haloumi Pizza

Make risotto. Add baked pumpkin. Roasted Beetroot. 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.

Beetroot Risotto

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 sandwiches that are grilled and SO VERY DELICIOUS. 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. Make toasted sandwiches with creative fillings, or use leftovers.

Paneer Toast | Indian | A Life Time of Cooking

You would think that…

You would thing that, with all of those ideas, I would have had it made. Able to eat 7 veggies at a single sitting. These days I am pretty good. But my Mother was the only person I know who could do about 10 vegetables at one sitting! It came from her country upbringing and a love of food. She sure did know how to do the 5+2 every single day.

 

 

 

 

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Author: 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.

16 thoughts on “Seasonal Cooking | 6 Ways to Cook and Eat for Healthy Living in Spring”

  1. 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.

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  2. 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?😀

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

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  3. 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!

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  4. 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!

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  5. 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!

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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!🙂

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  10. 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.

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  11. 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.

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