How To Prepare Vegetables

Eating more vegetables is one of the easiest ways to reduce the number of calories you consume each day.

Vegetables are vitamin-enriched, high in antioxidants and contain essential nutrients and minerals. Nutritionists recommend we consume at least five servings of the food group a day. So whether your preference is broccolini with your steak, capsicum and zucchini on top of your chicken, roast pumpkin with your roast, or a veggie-packed stir-fry, every meal you enjoy should have at least one veg element.

Every cent spent on fruit and veggies is money well spent so buy the best quality produce that you can afford. If you think the fruit and veggies are expensive, try comparing them at the kilogram level. A kilogram of carrots costs $2-$3 but a kilogram of potato chips costs $9-$19 – that's at least 300 per cent more!

Here are some ideas on how to prepare tasty veggies.

Washing vegetables

It's important to wash vegetables to remove traces of dirt or pesticides prior to cooking, serving or eating them.

Rinse vegetables under the tap, and then pat them dry with paper towel or a clean tea towel. Use a salad spinner to wash and dry lettuce leaves and herbs.

Baking vegetables

Line a baking try with baking paper. Cut potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato into same-sized chunks, so that they cook evenly.

Arrange on the tray with wedges of onion, spray with olive oil and season with a pinch of sea salt.

Bake at 200°C for 20 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned. Turn the vegetables once during cooking to ensure even colouring.

Baking beetroot

Trim the stalks off the beetroot leaving 1-2 cm intact. Wrap each beetroot in foil.

Place them on a baking tray and bake at 200°C for 60-75 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the beetroot penetrates easily.

Remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Unwrap the foil and slip the skins off the beetroot using your fingers.

Blanching veggies

Place broccoli or asparagus in a sieve and place the sieve in a heatproof bowl.

Pour boiling water over the vegetables and blanch them for 60-90 seconds.

Remove the sieve from the boiling water and plunge into iced cold water. This stops the cooking process and helps the vegetables retain their greenness.

When blanching snow peas or snap peas, decrease the blanching time to 30-60 seconds.

Grilling veggies

Heat a non-stick electric grill or barbeque over high heat.

Cut a capsicum into quarters and trim the stalks off some medium-sized mushrooms.

Lightly spray with olive oil and grill for 2 minutes each side.

When grilling corn, pre-cook the cobs in the microwave for 2 minutes before adding them to the grill.

Microwaving veggies

Add chopped vegetables such as carrots and broccoli to a heatproof bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 2-4 minutes or until cooked.

DIY

Now it's time to put practice into play! Cook up a storm in the kitchen with these delicious recipes for vegetable-packed, vitamin-enriched meals.

Grilled vegetable salad with basil and black olives
Warm eggplant salad
Roast pumpkin and zucchini salad with blackened corn