Friday, 29 April 2011

Salad does not have to be boring...

Or how to get your family to eat vegetables without complaining.

Now you might be lucky and your family might be happy to tuck into their five-a-day without objecting, but veggie lovers like Morris (see left) are few and far between. So here's some ideas of how to increase their consumption wthout a battle.

Interesting dressings
The other night Uncle K decided to be helpful and bring home pizza for dinner. 'Nice', you're thinking. But it was a chicken tikka pizza. So to stay in keeping with the flavours I made a couple of Indian themed salads:
Coronation lettuce
Shred up whatever lettuce you have - I used a little gem. Mix some low-fat mayo with a little curry powder and lemon juice. Dress the lettuce with the mayo.
Chop up some cucumber. Chop up some fresh mint or coriander (or both - that works too) Chop up a garlic clove very finely. Mix them all together and smother in some plain yoghurt.  (This is almost the same as the stuff you dip your poppadoms in at the Indian restaurant).

Chinese dressing
Mix equal amounts of sesame oil and soy sauce. Add some sesame seeds if you have them and a few chilli flakes. Serve over cold cooked veg such as mange tout peas or baby sweetcorn (like you'd get in Thai or Chinese food)

Disguising vegetables
You think they always notice?  No they don't.
(Scroll down to the bottom of this page for a simple recipe for basic chilli.)
Serve it with side dishes to increase the veggie goodness.
(DIY wraps. Put everything in bowls on the table and let them help themselves)
Mango salsa
Chop up some fresh mango and add chopped fresh chilli, lime juice and fresh coriander. This also works well with tomatoes, pineapple, nectarines or practically any fleshy fruit.
Squash up a ripe avocado. Add crushed garlic, finely chopped chilli and lime juice. You can also add finely chopped onion if you like and some finely chopped tomato (take out the seeds before you chop the flesh) Dress with shredded coriander leaves.
Flash-fried peppers
Slice up some green or red bell peppers very thinly and a small onion into similar shaped pieces. Get some oil VERY hot in a wide frying pan (not too much) and fry the strips very quicky, just long enough to make them go a bit floppy and start to brown on the edges.

Stir fries
You can add any kind of veg to a stir fry and if you make the meaty/fishy bits big enough it all goes down together. Onions and mushrooms are a good bet. They seem to be less offensive to most people (except those with allergies). Tinned sweetcorn is good too. They don't seem to see that. 

Make soup with vegetables and a good chicken stock. Blend it to a uniform colour then add meaty bits. (leftover chicken, bacon strips etc) They won't notice that the base is vegetarian!

How to make a basic chilli
Serves 4
Start with 250-300g minced turkey (low fat and much healthier and cheaper than beef)
Two large onions
One or two green chilies (chopped. leave out the seeds if you don't like it too spicy)
Two garlic cloves (chopped)
Tin of tomatoes
Squirt of tomato purée (optional) 
Tin of cooked pulses (red kidney beans is traditional but any old beans will do. Even baked beans make a good chilli)
Chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper
Cooking oil
Seasonings - any or all of: worcester sauce, tabasco, chilli powder, nam pla (fish sauce), more pepper

Chop your onions finely. Throw about a tablespoonful of oil in a pan and fry the onions till they start to go transparent. Add the chopped chillies and garlic. Stir it round a couple of ties then add the mince. Fry until the mince starts to brown. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tin of tomatoes and the tomato purée if you're using it. (It helps the colour)  Stir it in and then add stock or water to bring the liquid level up just to cover the meat. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down low and let the mixture bubble gently for 20 minutes or so.

By now it should be looking sort of like chilli. If not, check there's enough liquid in the pan and adjust accordingly, give it another stir and put the lid back on and leave it bubbling for another 10 minutes.

Add the tin of beans. If you're using kidney beans or similar, rinse them first. If it's baked beans just chuck the sauce in as well. Stir and taste. At this stage you can add any or all of the seasonings so that it tastes how you want it to.  Just keep adding stuff and tasting till it's how you want.

And voilá.  The finished product contains a good portion or portion and a half of vegetables each and I promise they won't realise as they tuck in. With side dishes it becomes three or four of the five-a-day in a single meal!


  1. The Mango salsa and coronation lettuce are taking my fancy.

  2. We had mango salsa last night with some chilli. It is very yummy.