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Meal preparation - Vegetables

Preparation of vegetables – a lesson in saving time and eating healthier!

The preparation of vegetables can save you time and hassle when it comes to mealtimes so you can eat healthier and achieve your fitness goals!

There is a trichotomy of areas to consider when it comes to achieving your fitness goals: exercise, rest and nutrition. When it comes to the third, being creative and staying healthy for your meals can seem all too hard. With a bit of planning and preparation, it doesn’t have to be

First, spend some free time planning your meals for the rest of the week. Ready some healthy options for snacks when you have even less time to prepare and when you need food the most! There is also the option to freeze, so why not make extra and place them in a deep freeze?

Secondly, to help reduce time on your set day of cooking, preparation of your vegetables for main meals should be done in advance.

If your vegetables are not fresh when you buy them or look a little off, throw them away to prevent yourself from getting sick.

If you are going to use fresh vegetables and freeze them, some may require blanching – submerging them in boiling water for a short period of time, depending on the vegetables. Once cooled, lay them on either a paper towel or cloth to drain the excess moisture.

Some guidelines...

  • Asparagus - Trim the bottom ends and place in a jar of water. Then place a plastic bag, loosely over the top. If you are going to freeze them, blanch for two minutes.

  • Broccoli - Cut into sizeable bits, store between damp paper towels in the fridge as opposed to an airtight container. Should keep well for up to 5 days. They can be stored for up to twelve months if you blanch and place them in freezer bags.

  • Carrots - From raw to stir-fried, carrots are highly versatile. They can be kept in bags or cold water for up to one week if cut fresh. Blanch for 2 to 5 minutes depending on size before placing into a bag for the freezer.

  • Cucumber - Wrap cut cucumbers in cling wrap and use them within three days. DO NOT FREEZE THEM!

  • Leeks - after cutting them, they should be kept in an airtight container for no more than five days. For freezer options, blanch and place into bags. They can stay there for up to one year.

  • Leafy greens - Cut or tear and wash. Place on top of paper towels and store in a container. Do not go past the used by date. You can store spinach and green beans in freezer bags in the freezer.

  • Onions - Moisten hands before dicing (you’re welcome). Dice and place into an airtight container for storage in the fridge. For freezing, wrap in cling wrap then a freezer bag for up to one year.

  • Peppers - Cut and store in a plastic bag for no more than two days. They may go slimy so use a paper towel. For freezer storage, freeze them on a plate until crisp then transfer them into a bag for up to six months

  • Potatoes - As mentioned above, peel, chop and store for no more than one day. Cut potatoes can be blanched and stored in a freezer bag for up to one year.

  • Tomatoes - Don’t store well in the fridge so they should be cut and used if and when necessary.

If you have opted to freeze your meals and vegetables, they may require a bit of secondary cooking and draining of liquids. This general advice above is so you can save time for yourself and make it easier to stick to your healthy eating intentions.

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