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Vegetables are a key factor to consider when planning your health improvement strategy. Whether you would like to lose weight or reduce your risk of diseases or simply step up your overall wellbeing, fresh or home-prepared vegetables should take centre stage. Although supplemental powders, pills and shakes can fill some gaps, nothing beats fresh foods for whole nutrition value.

Unfortunately, eating really healthy takes a bit of planning, thinking and prepping. For the time-strapped, traffic-tired modern man, it’s much easier to pop a ready-made meal into the microwave than to source, wash, chop and prepare healthful vegetables…

Preparing from scratch…

When you prepare vegetables from scratch in your kitchen, you are in control of the ingredients you choose, use the prep-and cooking methods. Applying some simple principles will enhance nutrient composition and retention. The same can not be said of many convenience options.

Pre-cutting or soaking in disinfecting solutions may potentially alter nutrient availability. In addition, selection of ingredients are often done primarily to satisy taste, availability and cost issues – rather than health issues…

Enhance the nutrient composition of your daily diet

  1. Choose a rainbow of plant-based foods daily… one red, one yellow, one green…
  2. Aim to eat at least 500 g of vegetables daily
  3. Aim to eat at least 1 raw vegetable serving daily
  4. Avoid overcooking GREEN vegetables in particular! Less than 4 minutes or raw is always best!
  5. Include a cabbage family vegetable daily – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale.

Why not kick off with this delicious home made vegetable soup to illustrate how easy it can be to eat more vegetables?

Roasted Tomato Soup

This roasted tomato soup is a fantastic go-to quick light meal.  It is so tasty, it’s good enough to serve as a starter for any dinner party. As it is so easy to prepare,  it is an ideal if you need to have your hands free to sit and relax on the couch with a glass of wine whilst enjoying the company of friends.

Ingredients

15 medium sized tomatoes (about 1,2 kg)
3 sweet red peppers or 2 red one and 1 yellow one if you buy a mixed packet
½ cup dairy cream or coconut cream
¼ cup olive oil
3 large sprigs of rosemary
6 large cloves of garlic
1 litre of quality vegetable or chicken stock (Ready made stock may be used provided it does not contain hydrogenated fat.)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Salt and black pepper to taste.
1 – 2 tbs (15- 30 ml) of sugar (optional)
Fresh coriander or basil to serve (Use sweet basil if you use cream in this recipe and coriander if you use coconut cream.)

What you need

Large baking tray
Handheld or jug blender

What to do

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes in quarters.

Remove the pips from the sweet peppers and slice them in quarters as well.

Remove the outer layer from the garlic cloves.

Place the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and rosemary twigs on a baking tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Use your hands to ensure that the vegetables are well covered.
Bake for 30 – 45 minutes in the middle of the oven till the peppers are well roasted. The tomatoes will look quite shrivelled up by now.
Remove the baking tray from the oven and leave to cool slightly so that you can handle the sprigs of rosemary. Remove the leaves using your fingers and discard the stick – but not the leaves.

Add all the vegetables and herbs and roasted garlic to a large bowl or pot. Use some of the stock to blend the vegetables to a smooth puree. Now add the rest of the stock and cream or coconut cream.

Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste at this stage. Reheat in the pot or in a microwaveable bowl when you are ready to serve. Serve with fresh coriander or basil.

Serves 4

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