Friday, 17 January 2014

LOVING vegetables

The way the Indian culture has elevated vegetables to the magnificent is perhaps only matched in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Whilst we are by no means vegetarian in our house, we love to eat a LOT of vegetables and I often serve dinner with no meat.  My kids never ask "where's the meat?".  In fact there are fights over the remaining salad and veggie dishes at the table most nights. And as I wrote this one of my boys was in the kitchen making Guacamole to serve on his toast for breakfast.

The trick is to put as much effort & thinking into your vegetable dishes as you do your meat ones.  We tend to think hard about how we are going to cook our meat- but very often people just serve steamed veggies on the side as if they are an afterthought & not something that is worthy of more.

It makes me so sad when I read over & over about parents hiding veggies in food so they can get their kids to eat them.  Consider this- would you really want to eat veggies that were just steamed and set upon the plate as an afterthought either? Perhaps not......

Let's re-think the VEG!

I think a lot of us grew up in homes where the veg was always 'just' the side dish.  We, alongside the Brits are known as the 'Meat and 3 veg culture'.
It is understandably hard for people to break out of that.  But I promise that once you do there will be no turning back!

I often cook the other way around to most cooks. My thought process goes something like this- What delicious veggies do I have in the fridge? What will I do with them? And do I want to serve a meat dish with it?

The meat usually comes last in my menu planning. Seasonal eating demands that.  We start with the Veg.  The rest comes next.

When I do serve meat, I am mindful that the meat portions are smaller than the vegetable and salad portions.

I think as a culture we eat far too much meat and having a few good vegetarian recipes that satisfy is a great way to go.  When you find a few real favourites, it won't feel as if you are 'missing out' as some people tend to feel.

I love to eat meat. A LOT. But I am careful about eating meat raised ethically and I buy in bulk from Farmers I know.  I am happy to support them in the work they do- for me that is super important. I love my meat Farmers!

I know lots of people like to participate in Meat Free Monday, but maybe we should be aiming for 3-4 meat free days.  So much better for so many reasons.

It may initially be quite a challenge for lots of us but maybe it is worth giving it a go.  It can really help reduce your weekly food bill too. And it is super nutritious! BONUS.

Here are some cookbooks dedicated to vegetables that I LOVE & use a LOT.  I highly recommend them as a starting point for people who want to start cooking more vegetable dishes.
They are all available at libraries so maybe you can go and borrow them to help kick start your new love of the VEG!

Mr. Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables



River Cottage Veg


Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cookery- or really ANY Indian cookbook.

Veggies for the WIN!

DO you want to join me in learning to love veggies in a whole new way this year?

Why not begin TODAY!

My earliest cooking experiences at 10 years of age were curries. I grew up in a family that ate spicy delicious curries a lot- amongst other delicious foods form all around the globe. So very lucky.
It has been a life long love affair.

This is a super quick, easy & delicious curry that I make when I have a hankering for a curry but can't wait for the slow cooked variety!
It is equally as good with added potatoes- or really any veg you want.
Dosa are a lovely flatbread (pancake like) perfect alongside curry- in Southern India they are served for breakfast as well as lunch - I often have them for breakfast too- YUM. The mix is best if left to sit for half an hour or so but I often can't wait!
WHAT YOU WILL NEED for the curry:

  • 1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes 
  • 1/2 pack of frozen peas
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 red chilli, sliced fine (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • salt
  • 1 tablespoon of ghee or rice bran oil

Melt the ghee in a large fry pan.  Add the pumpkin and fry till brown and soft.
Add the mustard & cumin and stir until the mustard seeds pop.
Now add the garlic & chilli and stir for a minute or two.
Add the frozen peas and cook till they are soft.
Take off the heat and add the chopped fresh coriander & the fresh lemon juice and serve.

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut flour (from health food or organic food store)
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, chopped extra fine
  • 1/4 bunch fresh coriander, chopped fine
  • water
  • oil for frying (I find the spray oil best for this)

Combine all ingredients and add enough water to make a runny pancake batter.
It should be almost the same sort of consistency as Buttermilk- quite runny!

Let it sit for half an hour (if you can! It helps get the Dosa nice and crisp).

Heat a non-stick pan & when hot spray oil to cover base.

Pour a little batter into pan so it is in a fine layer- tilt the pan to spread evenly.

Once edges are quite brown CAREFULLY (they are fragile!) flip to cook other side.

Remove and set aside.

Serve Curry on top of the Dosa (I like to serve some Lime pickle with it too)


  1. YOU ROCK RUTH! Love the vege <3. Buy them well, give them love whilst you store & cook, you'll never ask "where's the meat?" It really is a revelation that you're not missing out but #vegewinning

  2. I have that Madhur book too - everything works a treat - and actually easy to make.

  3. GourmetGirlfriend17 January 2014 at 11:53

    I own lots of Madhur's books- she is the Queen (alongside Charmaine Solomon) of Asian cooking. xx

  4. GourmetGirlfriend17 January 2014 at 11:53

    thankyou Sharon. xxxxxx

  5. That looks lovely! You're absolutely right about the difference being in making an effort with them.

  6. We loved Madhur's SBS series Curry Nation but I am afraid I love my meat too much to have just veggies. Waiting on Rick Stein's India book to arrive to try out some awesome curries.

  7. I loved this post. I try to have at least two meat free meals each week. My kids don't love all veggies but there's a lot that they do like so I cook those up often. They love spinach and ricotta lasagne and fried rice. I've found growing our own makes a huge difference, I send them out with a basket to pick lettuce, shallots and beans and they proudly come back in with their produce. Sometimes we go to the fruit shop and they can choose something they haven't tried before.

  8. I love vegetables more than I love meat and quite often will have a vegetable meal I enjoy eating sales and veggies and today for lunch had the most divine salad of a new rice mix I bought rice plus from Aldi with baby pear cut small,shallots,red capsicum,parsley and a dressing of soy sauce and lemon juice and snow pea sprouts on top and it was amazing.I do as an Aussie born and bred person think we eat too much meat ,our portions are small and there are days we too have no meat ,though my husband is the son of a butcher and he doesn't like it that much,oh well I do the cooking!

  9. I've only started eating veggies in the last few years. I was a fool!!! But now I need a salad or veggies or both every day! I'm happy to go without meat but the men in my house want meat, it's a pain but whatever. My problem is I get stuck in a veggie rut & make the same stuff. I've got cookbooks but I don't use them enough. I've gotta use them more !!!


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