The DA diets are designed to make sure you get plenty of fresh vegetables. Vegetables are nutritional powerhouses that can help you feel fuller for longer – but if you’ve always tended to boil your veg, you could be in danger of finding your vegetable dishes a little dull. Here are 5 simple ways to make your vegetables more enjoyable while still sticking to your DA diet.
1. Roast them
Low calorie cooking spray is your friend here. Heat your oven to 200C (190C fan)/gas mark 6 and spritz your vegetables with cooking spray. Add a little salt and pepper and pop in the oven for about 25 minutes or until nicely caramelised. This cooking technique intensifies the flavour of your veg, making them a highlight of your meal rather than an afterthought. Vegetables that work especially well roasted include Mediterranean veg (try peppers, onion, garlic and tomatoes), root veg (butternut squash, sweet potato and parsnip), courgettes and aubergines.
2. Grill them
Like roasting, grilling can intensify the flavour of vegetables and give them a nicely caramelised finish. Spray them with a little low calorie cooking spray, season, and place under the grill or on a grill pan or BBQ and cook until lightly charred. Sweetcorn is wonderful grilled, as is asparagus – and big, juicy portobello mushrooms are sensational too. Alternatively, pop smaller mushrooms on a skewer with chunks of courgette, pepper and onion, spray with light cooking spray and grill.
3. Add dried herbs and spices
If you’re grilling or roasting your vegetables, sprinkling them with dried herbs spices will truly elevate your meal. For a Mediterranean flavour, try mixing equal parts garlic salt, dried oregano, dried thyme, paprika and cumin. For Middle Eastern dishes, mix equal parts black pepper, paprika, cumin, ground coriander, ground cinnamon and ground cloves. For punchy peri peri vegetables, mix equal parts paprika, onion powder, garlic salt, ground coriander, dried oregano, dried parsley, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, ground ginger, ground cardamon and stevia.
4. Steam them
Steaming is simple and it preserves nutrients and flavour without adding calories. If you don’t already have one, a simple pan top steamer is an excellent investment. While boiling can cause a lot of nutrients to escape into the water, steaming keeps them within the vegetables. Test your vegetables regularly and serve them while still a little al dente (so they still retain some bite). This will make them tastier and more satisfying as well as more nutritious than vegetables that have been cooked for longer.
5. Eat them raw
Even better than steaming is eating your vegetables raw – it’s the ultimate way to make sure you get as many nutrients as possible while maximising on flavour. While celery, cucumber and carrot sticks are a common accompaniment for dips, many other vegetables are delicious served this way: try raw cauliflower florets, sweet peppers, broccoli, radishes, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes and chicory with DA hummus, or throw together a simple dip with Greek yoghurt, fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, dill or coriander, and minced garlic. Alternatively, create a salad with mixed green leaves as a base, a touch of crunch (choose from grated carrot, diced peppers, finely chopped mild onion and sliced radishes) and a few juicy sliced tomatoes. If you choose your green leaves wisely, mixing peppery leaves such as rocket with milder leaves such as iceberg lettuce, you won’t need a dressing to make it taste interesting – but if you crave a dressing, use the yoghurt dip described above.