THE health and nutritional benefits of regularly consuming a wide variety of fruit and vegetables are well documented.
Fruit and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, dietary fibre and water. Different coloured fruit and vegetables contain different nutrients. So go ahead - eat the rainbow!
Queenslanders have access to a wide range of fruit and vegetables however, only about half of us eat sufficient fruit and one-tenth eat sufficient vegetables each day.
"Adding more fruit and vegetables daily is the easiest way to improve your health and that of your family," QCWA Country Kitchens program coordinator Fiona McKenzie said.
The Queensland Government funded QCWA Country Kitchens Hands On Nutrition Workshops provide support for cooks of all levels, to improve their cooking skills and nutrition awareness across a range of meals.
By participating in the workshops you'll gain practical skills from the team of accredited practicing dietitians and nutritionists, such as how to modify recipes. For example, adding extra vegetables to a quiche or frittata; or grated apple to a salad or cake recipe.
"The Hands On Nutrition Workshops are really practical and stimulate participants to think about how they might add fruit and vegetables to their family recipes, making it easier to regularly increase the number and variety of each eaten on a daily basis," Ms McKenzie said.
And QCWA members who have volunteered as program Facilitators in their districts, concur.
"I really like how the program teaches people to modify a recipe to make it healthier," said Raymonda Hall, QCWA Country Kitchens Facilitator, QCWA Blackwater Branch.
"The interaction with our Country Kitchens' dietitians has been fantastic. They passed on a wealth of information, encourage participants to prepare meals at home and to eat more colourful vegetables each day," said Janelle Reeves, QCWA Kingaroy Branch.
Other tips include using leftover roast vegetables in sandwiches and substituting after-dinner chocolate for fruit and yoghurt. When making a roast, prepare an extra-large tray of pumpkin, potato, carrot, parsnip, onion, and even beetroot and use these in salads, pasta or risotto over the next few days.
Canned or frozen vegetables are convenient and accessible. It's a good idea to keep some frozen veggies in the freezer. Canned tomatoes and fruit in natural juices are great pantry staples.
It is also worth considering meals where vegetables are the "hero" ingredient, such as soups, pasta or risotto. If children are fussy, aim to introduce new flavours, colours and textures each week. Encourage children to explore the wonderful diversity of vegetables by trying pumpkin, sweet potato, corn, capsicum and cherry tomatoes.
"The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends adults eat five serves of vegetables each day, with a serve being half a cup (75g) of cooked vegetables or one cup of salad or raw vegetables."
For a comprehensive list head HERE and search 'serve sizes' in the search bar.
Once you realise preparing vegetables at home does not have to involve a lot of skill or time, you may well find a growing enjoyment in the process.
"QCWA's Country Kitchens program is a very accessible and practical approach to improving country Queenslanders' knowledge and capacity to eat better," Ms McKenzie said.
To join a Hands On Nutrition Workshop or learn more about the QCWA Country Kitchens program visit HERE, and sign up for the free Monthly Munch newsletter.
PINEAPPLE GINGER RELISH
>1 small Pineapple
>3 - 4 cm knob fresh Ginger
>1 cup fresh Mint
>1 small Red Onion
>Extra Virgin Olive Oil
>Skin and remove eyes from pineapple, cut 1cm slices removing core.
>Grill until just changing colour, cut into dices, place in bowl.
>Add finely grated ginger, finger torn mint leaves, finely chopped onion and juice of limes.
>Drizzle Olive oil over top and mix well.
>Cover and place in refrigerator.
Serving suggestions: As a topping for a Melt with Maleny Cheese Buffalo Feta crumbled on top. As a salad on a bed of mixed leaves with freshly shelled prawns. Serve with grilled meat, chicken, fish, tofu or haloumi.
IN FOCUS: Five minutes with Judy Stubbs from Maleny Branch
Why did you decide to get involved with QCWA's Country Kitchens Program? I believed it was a great opportunity to extend our service to women and children in our community.
What part of the Country Kitchens program appeals to you the most and why? Delivering interesting recipes made from healthy foods, highlighting the skills required to create meals which will appeal to all age groups.
What have you enjoyed the most about becoming a Facilitator? Meeting members of groups outside the QCWA community who can benefit from our five key messages.
In what ways have you been able to reinforce the Country Kitchens five key messages within your community? Branch members have supported me in conducting mini nutrition workshops, foodie talks and showcases, displaying our messages in public places and sharing their knowledge with family and friends. The local press have been very interested; featuring the Country Kitchens program, publishing news items outlining our activities and photos of our participants having fun learning how to be healthier and happier.
Does your Branch have a Country Kitchens-inspired community activity / event planned in the near future? Currently conducting five mini Nutrition Workshops with the Maleny and Glasshouse Girl Guides, Foodie talks and demonstrations for Maleny Men's Shed and mini Nutrition Workshops for Meridan College starting in April.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.