Between family life and professional life, your days move by at breakneck speed. But you still want to stay on track with a healthy and tasty diet. But how can you do that when your schedule is already full? How do you manage – in a short space of time – to feed your whole little world healthily, make yourself happy and satisfy their taste buds? Here are a few simple and practical tips and recipe ideas to make it easier for you to cook fresh fruit and vegetables every day.
Why choose raw fresh fruit and vegetables?
Cooking fresh produce is more economical than buying ready-made meals, which are often high in salt, sugar and fat.
This makes it easier to control your nutritional intake (vitamins, minerals and fibre).
Provided with useful micro-nutrients, fresh fruit and vegetables remain low in calories. An average fruit (150 g) provides only 75 kcal on average, a portion of raw vegetables seasoned with a drizzle of oil barely 100 kcal. Their high water and fibre content also promotes satiety and prevents cravings.
Getting a good supply: make a shopping list
To organize your shopping, remember to make a list of the basics (tomato, cucumber, melon or peach, in summer, carrot, cabbage, apple, kiwi, in winter), and let yourself be seduced by the products you are not used to preparing. It will be a good opportunity to enrich your culinary repertoire.
Fresh fruit and vegetables: that’s twice a week!
It’s best to shop in two stages: a basic basket that can be kept throughout the week (carrot, turnip, zucchini, apple, etc.) and a supplement, in the middle of the week, for the most sensitive products (strawberry, raspberry, salad, etc.).
Primeurs, supermarkets, markets, etc., offer you different offers. Optimize your shopping according to the time you have, the place where you are and the quantities to buy. And think about the drive when you’re short of time.
Organise yourself well to prepare fresh fruit and vegetables properly.
Saving time on a daily basis
Before serving, the Chefs do what they call setting up; among the various tasks of preparing the dishes, peeling and cutting the vegetables saves time when preparing the recipes.
In the same way, at home, when you return from shopping, when you have a little time, prepare a few vegetables for the week. This may seem a little tedious at first but, with use, it is a real saving of time and energy on a daily basis.
For example, leeks can be washed and sliced and then placed in an airtight container in the fridge (up to 5 days’ storage); carrots can be peeled and washed (2/3 days. Beyond that, they tend to dry out); celeriac can be peeled, washed and quartered and then stored in lemon water (4/5 days). Prepare the green salad (peeled, washed, wrung out) and place it in a food bag in the fridge (2 to 5 days depending on the variety: chicory, autumn and winter salads are more resistant to storage than tender spring and summer lettuces). The same goes for radishes, which can be eaten throughout the week as desired.
While cauliflower and broccoli keep better whole, they can be washed and cut into small bunches for short-term consumption (within 24 hours).
Onions and shallots can be peeled and chopped in advance; be careful to keep them well enclosed so that they do not communicate their powerful aromas to all foods stored in the refrigerator.
The good use of freezing
Prepare servings of chopped vegetables and freeze them. To do this, arrange the vegetable cubes on a tray in the freezer in a single layer. When they have hardened, bag them in portions. Frozen vegetables are best reserved for cooking in soups or purées. For pan-frying, freshly purchased vegetables are preferable.
Prepare your dishes in larger quantities than needed for one meal and freeze the rest. On days when you have very little time, all you have to do is defrost the dishes in the microwave or in a saucepan on your hotplate.
Precook your vegetables the day before
Pre-cooked vegetables can be simply sautéed in a pan, integrated in an omelette or in a savoury pie (e.g. broccoli or leek quiche).
We also like them au gratin: arrange them in a dish, garnish with grated cheese and/or a sauce (béchamel, crème fraîche), place under the oven grill for ten minutes to obtain a succulent gratin express.
In the kitchen: focus on simplicity and seasoning
Cooking without cooking, who would have thought?
The simplest and quickest way to add fresh fruit and vegetables to the daily menu is to eat them raw, to systematically add a raw vegetable to the menu. This is a little easier in summer than in winter because there is a greater supply of raw consumables (tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, courgettes, peppers, etc., and all fruits). In addition, when it is hot, our taste is more naturally inclined towards crudeness.
But you can always find something to crunch on outside the summer period (celery root and branch, fennel, red cabbage and white cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, etc., and of course all green salads). Innovate by offering vegetables rarely used raw: turnips in carpaccio, a green cabbage salad with bacon or a broccoli tabbouleh.
Almost all fruits and vegetables can be eaten raw.
A few exceptions: rhubarb, white asparagus (very finely sliced and well seasoned, it can be eaten raw in small quantities), eggplant (rare recipes offer it raw, however, in a salad), pumpkin, green beans, the leek (although, very finely chopped, it is used like the onion, as a spice), the Camus artichoke (the small violet, as for him can be eaten raw, finely chopped, in salad), the quince.