Loathe your greens? Here’s how to cheat, trick, chop and crunch your way to a healthier diet with some simple yet effective vegetable switch-ups
We all know how good vegetables are for us, but we’d probably eat a lot more if they were just that little bit more enticing. So we asked nutritionist, master herbalist and naturopath Elizabeth Peyton-Jones for her top nutrition tips and vegetable switch-ups for leading a greener, healthier life. From easy recipes to healthy snacks, ways to boost our salads to healthy lunches, upping our vegetable intake never looked so appealing.
1. Swap regular rice for ‘cauliflower rice’
If your meal feels somewhat incomplete without a serving of starch, swap your serving of rice with an equally filling dose of cauliflower instead. “Its detox effects will keep your liver healthy, your skin clear and your gut running optimally,” explains Elizabeth. Feeling inspired? Here’s Elizabeth’s tried and tested roast cauliflower rice recipe.
Serves 4 (vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free)
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
½ tsp coconut oil, melted
- Preheat oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
- Whizz the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles grains of rice. Toss in the oil and transfer to a baking sheet.
- Roast for 15-20 minutes until golden and tender.
2. Replace salt with lemon juice
“Instead of salt, squeeze lemon juice over the food you’re steaming to intensify flavour,” recommends Elizabeth. “Lemon is a really good source of vitamin C, an antioxidant. In my book Eat Yourself Young , I talk about oxidation being one of the most ageing processes. This amazingly tangy, delicious and highly nutritious fruit is a powerful antioxidant-rich food and it will help drive away the free radicals which are set to damage your cells and make you look older than you are,” she explains.
“It is also the most alkalising fruit you can eat or drink. It turns from a citric (acid) into a citrate (alkaline) as soon as you ingest it, ensuring that your body’s pH balance is as it should be which makes regeneration, rejuvenation and healing much easier. As if this is not enough, it also aids digestion, reduces pain and swelling (inflammation), improves the function of blood vessels and helps reduce fluid retention. As an aside, it also wonderfully flavours your food!”
3. Boost your veggie burger
Think veggie burgers are boring? Think again. Elizabeth’s vegetarian alternative is just as hearty - just healthier. “Craving a burger? Opt for a homemade beetroot and quinoa burger instead to satisfy your carnivorous cravings! Your body will get the same high quantity of iron as it would from meat,” she says. Here’s how to make it.
2 medium beetroots
1 large carrot
110g cooked quinoa or aduki beans
1 onion, finely chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten
100g buckwheat flour
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coconut oil
- Trim, peel and coarsely grate the beetroots and the carrot. Put all the ingredients except the oil into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Shape the mixture into four patties and gently steam-fry them in the oil until crispy on both sides and heated through.
4. Swap your afternoon coffee for an ‘Energy Root Green’ juice
“Heading for a 3pm slump? An ‘Energy Root Green’ juice will provide the perfect pick me up!” says Elizabeth. “Beetroot and spinach both work hard to boost energy levels and prevent your mind and body flagging.” All you need is a ¼ cucumber, 1 beetroot, 70 grams of spinach and 1 apple and then just pop it all into a juicer and into a flask to put into the fridge at work.
5. Trade temptation for tactical forward planning
If your sweet tooth is your healthy eating downfall, resist the urge to reach for the cookie jar come tea time by ensuring there are always some healthy snacks to hand in your bag. “Prepare raw vegetables, sweet peas, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes and radishes and put them in a small zip lock bag and eat them as snacks,” recommends Elizabeth. “They are bursting with vitamins as well as the crunch being great for your teeth too.”
For more healthy eating inspiration, Elizabeth shares her top tips in her book Cook Yourself Young, £14.99 which is available to buy online from Amazon .