Veges help us keep well through winter

United Fresh project manager Stephanie Wrathall enjoys her vegetables. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
United Fresh project manager Stephanie Wrathall enjoys her vegetables. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
As the cold weather sets in across Aotearoa, thoughts turn to how we can keep ourselves healthy, so the arrival of locally grown winter vegetable crops could not come at a better time, vegetable industry representatives say.

Eating at least five servings of seasonal vegetables every day is a delicious and nutritious way to keep healthy and happy no matter what the weather, 5+ A Day project manager Carmel Ireland says.

"Winter vegetables crops are starting to arrive in stores now. Try adding as many as you can to your diet to support the health and wellbeing of your whole whanau."

Registered nutritionist Julie North says vegetables play an important role in immunity.

"A strong immune system is our best defence against winter illness and plenty of wholesome natural foods, like vegetables, are the best way to ensure we get all the nutrients we need for immune support."

Vegetables provide a huge range of key nutrients that support immunity, such as vitamin C, folate and iron. These are naturally found in many winter vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, silver beet and kumara.

Ms Ireland said the Covid-19 pandemic had raised the profile of products which provide natural immunity support.

She suggested that selecting vegetables in a wide variety of colours and flavours was the best way to serve up healthy meals.

"Try to eat a mix of colours at each meal. Vegetable soup is an excellent lunch option on a cold day. Start with a mix of root vegetables such as parsnips, potato and yams and throw in sliced leeks and silver beet for a fresh boost of colour and flavour."

Another suggestion was a slice of vegetable frittata for an affordable breakfast. Mix leftover roast vegetables such as carrots and kumara with pan-fried leeks, stir in lightly beaten eggs and a splash of milk and bake until the egg is set. You could add fresh herbs for delicious flavour combinations.

Seasonable vegetables represented the best value for shoppers.

"Buying in season is the key to keeping to a manageable budget. Look for vegetables that are in good supply such as broccoli, carrots and silver beet. Make sure you store your produce correctly to keep them fresh and use as much of the vegetable as you can to reduce waste."

She also advised careful meal-planning to make the job easier.

"For example if I know that we have sports practice on a Wednesday, I’ll choose fast recipes such as steamed broccoli with vinaigrette and honey-glazed carrots for our evening meal. On nights when we have more time, I’ll plan to cook a garlic roasted cauliflower while the oven is already on for some baking or a casserole."