Frequently asked questions about getting your vegetables

The average Canadian does not eat enough vegetables. Experts advise us to eat four to five helpings every day but that takes planning, effort and a little kitchen savvy. Here's a Veggie FAQ list that may help you get those four to five servings.

Frequently asked questions about getting your vegetables

Question:

What's a must-have kitchen tool for preparing vegetables?

Answer:

A vegetable grater. Grating vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, celery, cucumber adds volume to your meals, meaning you take in fewer calories while eating more food.

Plus, grating helps you to "hide" your veggies in casseroles, sauces and other dishes.

Question:

Are vegetables are easier to cook than meat?

Answer:

It's true, but they do require a little more creativity. Here are four mini-recipes to try:

  • Add grated carrots and steamed spinach to 500 grams (one pound) of ground beef or turkey, then shape into patties and grill for your own version of a veggie burger.
  •  Serve celeriac instead of mashed potatoes or white rice as a side dish. Peel it and slice it into chunks, drizzle with olive oil, then roast in a hot oven until soft. Or boil it and mash with seasoning and a little olive oil.
  • Substitute sweet potatoes for potatoes. Peel them, slice into bite-sized chunks, then boil until soft and mash with seasoning and olive oil. Alternatively, roast chunks in the oven or make sweet potato fries as a healthy change from potato fries. Just peel and slice them into wedges, parboil them, then drain and coat with a little olive oil and season before baking in a hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cut an eggplant in two down the middle and stuff each half with tomatoes. Top with slices of Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, then bake or grill until softened.

Question:

Which is better: fresh garlic or garlic powder?

Answer:

It may be fresh; the jury is still out on this one. A large American study on fresh garlic by Christopher Gardner, PhD, of Stanford University Medical Center, found that fresh garlic failed to reduce cholesterol levels, although further research is needed on its other possible medicinal benefits.

But, Gardner notes, the active ingredient in garlic is allicin, which can easily be destroyed if you mess with it too much, which suggests that fresh is best. Other tests indicate that you'd usually need more powdered garlic than fresh to get the same benefits.

Question:

How is it even possible to get eight to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables in one day?

Answer:

Easy, once you know what a serving is. Check out each of these definitions of a serving from Health Canada's Canada's Food Guide website and you'll see it's totally do-able:

  • One medium-sized fruit (apple, orange, banana, pear), half a grapefruit, a slice of pineapple, half a mango
  • 50 millilitres (1/4 cup) dried fruit: raisins, apricots or mixed fruit
  • 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) broccoli, cauliflower, green beans
  • 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) of cooked vegetables such as carrots, peas, corn
  • Salad vegetables: a stalk of celery, a medium tomato, seven cherry tomatoes, or 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) cucumber
  • 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) 100 per cent pure fruit or vegetable juice or smoothie
  • One large kiwi, one guava, ten lychees
  • 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) frozen or canned vegetables
  • 125 millilitres (1/2 cup) cooked leafy vegetables: kale or bok choy
  • 250 millilitres (1 cup) of raw leafy vegetables
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