My older son is coming came home from University this weekend. When he called me last week to tell me he was coming he gave several reasons. To see his friends, to have his laundry done, the usual excuses. But the one that surprised me was his need for……..vegetables! While the cuisine in his catered hall of residence is good, it seems the kitchen doesn’t major on vegetables. Maybe that reflects the average student’s taste rather than the caterer’s knowledge of what constitutes a balanced diet. No point in preparing loads of vegetables if the young intelligentsia, in their wisdom, don’t eat them!
So, I asked, in advance of his visit, if he had any special requests for dinner? His answer was simple. “Cook anything you like, but please do it with lots and lots of vegetables”. Our bodies are always talking to us, even when we don’t realise it, or perhaps choose to ignore what it’s telling us. When it needs fluid, we feel thirsty; when we need rest, we’re sleepy. And there’s some suggestion that we can also read, maybe subconsciously, signals from our body that specific nutrients are required. It’s a nice thought anyway, that my son is listening to what his body is telling him he needs.
So what vegetables to cook? And it caused me to think of what the nation’s favourite vegetable might be. What’s yours? Is it the increasingly popular broccoli, named after the originator, an Italian, and a relative of the famous film producer of the same name? Or do you still hanker after the old favourite, but decreasingly popular cauliflower? Sales of cauliflower are down by 35% in the past decade, and now only 4 in 10 households still eat them. You might have a soft spot for traditional favourites like cabbage, sprouts, onions or peas? Or maybe carrots (originally from the Netherlands), very versatile, but often better raw than I cooked I think!
Whatever vegetable you think of, it’s difficult to think of many that we regularly enjoy that are indigenous, as most have been imported at some point in history. Even the favourite potato, from North America, only came to popularity in the late 1700’s as an alternative to traditional breads and oatcakes and being a Scot I love turnip, or swede (from Sweden, would you have guessed?) as it’s more often called.
Simple foods, easy and quick to prepare, and very, very nourishing. We all have our favourites, but which is best for us? I don’t think the answer to that is too crucial. The important thing is to enjoy plenty of them, and to mix and match. As a simple guide, the more colourful your plate, the better it will be. Fill at least half your plate with healthy vegetables and you’re already half way towards a healthy, balanced, and weight losing diet. So, what’s your favourite, and why?
Better get the dinner on. He’ll be here in half an hour………..