Kale_Ceaser_Salad

Fabulously fibrous vegetables

I love celebrating vegetables in my cooking because there is so much variation both in locality and across the seasons. As the magic of nature changes what vegetables are available for me to cook, so too does it spark inspiration to create a real smorgasbord of beautiful, nourishing dishes in the kitchen all year round.

As inspiring as they are, the unavoidable fact is that not all vegies are created equal. Some, however, are such nutritional powerhouses that they are really important for us to consume and cook daily. This family of superstars is known as fibrous vegetables because they are high in fibre, contain very little sugar and starch and are of full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which are basically plant nutrients.

Fibrous vegetables are pretty fabulous because they give you a slow, sustained energy release, leaving you feeling fuller for longer while letting your body reap their incredible health benefits.

Healthy goodness

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to fibrous vegies and I love that they include some of my all-time favourites, such as broccoli, cauliflower, leek, spinach, fennel, avocado, cabbage, radish and silver beet.

Consuming lots of these vegetables daily has been shown by scientific research to support better gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health, skin health, weight management, glycaemic control and satiety because the fibre helps to slow the digestion of carbohydrates and proteins.

In addition, some fibrous vegetables, such as Jerusalem artichoke and leek, are known for being good sources of prebiotics (the food for probiotics), which contribute to the growth of beneficial organisms in the intestines and are key in creating a balanced, healthy digestive system.

Fibrous vegetables contain many cancer-fighting compounds that can help your body better detoxify the many pollutants and toxic chemicals that surround you.

While the food pyramid may suggest grains are a better source of fibre than veg, grains also contain anti-nutrients and glutinous “binding” proteins, which may inhibit the way the body absorbs nutrients. Meanwhile, some substances in grains, including gliadin and lectins, may also in some people increase intestinal permeability or leaky gut syndrome.

That’s why fibrous vegetables are front and centre in many of the recipes I now create because, since following a Paleo-style diet, they are one of the key groups of ingredients I use to bulk up meals and ensure that I’m absorbing antioxidants and phytonutrients daily.

You see, the main reason for increasing your intake of fibrous and leafy vegetables each day is because eating plant foods like these, with their superior antioxidant content, is one of the most natural ways in which you can help combat the toxic environment you’re exposed to in modern-day life.

Fibrous vegetables contain many cancer-fighting compounds that can help your body better detoxify the many pollutants and toxic chemicals that surround you, amounts of which far exceed anything our ancestors would ever have experienced.

Green, leafy, fibrous vegetables, such as kale, spinach and silver beet, are also loaded with beneficial vitamins such as B vitamins and vitamin K, and minerals such as magnesium. Magnesium is key for promoting calcium absorption, which ensures optimal muscle and nerve function, as well as helping to boost the immune system. It’s also the mineral responsible for relaxing blood vessels and balancing the stress hormone, cortisol.

My favourite morning dishes include poached eggs with bacon and some avocado and wilted spinach or silver beet; and my current post-surf weekend go-to recipe: baked eggs with Paleo beef sausages, kale and spiced tomato.

Why are the antioxidants and phytonutrients present in fibrous vegetables so important? Recent research is showing just how vital increasing your intake of phytonutrients and antioxidants is in reducing the oxidative damage and inflammation caused by the pollutants and toxins in our environments.

What antioxidants do is actually act as pro-oxidants in the body, stimulating mild oxidative damage and kicking the body’s natural antioxidant defence systems into gear, allowing our bodies to function better and stronger. New scientific research is showing that this process is very important, and I’m a big fan of organic, fibrous, leafy vegetables because they are one of the main ways to get this process happening in our bodies.

Furthermore, the fibre in these vegetables also acts as a digestive broom, helping your body to eliminate waste by cleaning the digestive tract and colon. This can dramatically improve both the digestive system and gut health, meaning the body is able to absorb more nutrients from the other foods you are eating.

Some people with chronic digestive systems, however, do need to be mindful of how much fibre they consume. That’s because the human digestive system isn’t designed to break down fibre; instead, it ends up undigested in the bowl, which is where your gut flora resides.

If you have a healthy gut, with the right balance of beneficial bacteria, these microbes are enhanced by the addition of fibre. But, if your gut is filled with pathogens, yeast or fungi, then suddenly adding lots of fibre can make the health problems you may already be suffering worse.

That’s why, if you do experience an increase in gas or discomfort from increasing your intake of fibrous veg, you could opt to instead juice them, cook them more fully to break down bacteria-enhancing fibre or look into the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet to help restore your digestive health.

Easy additions

Given their superior health benefits, I thoroughly encourage you to incorporate fibrous vegetables into your daily diet by experimenting with plenty of vegie-rich recipes. And, when shopping for these veg, make sure you select local, organically grown and in-season produce by heading to your local farmers’ market or grower to get the best, freshest quality. Or, better yet, grow your own!

I love including fresh fibrous veg in my breakfasts. My favourite morning dishes include poached eggs with bacon and some avocado and wilted spinach or silver beet; and my current post-surf weekend go-to recipe: baked eggs with Paleo beef sausages, kale and spiced tomato.

Some of the other ways I love to prepare fibrous vegetables include eating them raw in a salad, lightly stir-frying them in some garlic and coconut oil or popping them in the pan with a squeeze of lemon juice and a half cup of bone broth.

Fibrous vegetables … give you a slow, sustained energy release, leaving you feeling fuller for longer while letting your body reap their incredible health benefits.

Finally, the best way I have increased my intake of fibrous vegies over the past few years is by adding a tablespoon or two of fermented fibrous vegetables (sauerkraut, kimchi and cultured pickles) as a side dish to most of the meals I eat. Not only do fermented veg add a tasty, extra-sharp bite to any meal, but fermented fibrous vegetables are even more potent at delivering phytonutrients and antioxidants into your system than their unfermented counterparts.

For me, adding fibrous fermented vegetables into my daily diet has been the single biggest game-changer for my health. They have boosted my energy levels, improved my mental focus and enhanced my physical and emotional wellbeing immensely. They’ve also helped to balance the bacteria in my gut, and the digestive and skin issues I once suffered regularly are now a distant memory.

That’s why I’ll keep on waving the flag for fibrous vegetables — and the power of fermented foods — because, no matter how frantic my schedule is, fermented vegetables are the one food I always eat because they help me bounce through the day with increased energy and sustained focus.

The next time you’re out shopping for vegetables, I encourage you to take a list of your favourite fibrous beauties with you and get inspired to create meals out of one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Then watch your body reap the benefits.

Cook with love and laughter,

Pete

 

Kale Caesar Salad

Serves: 4

Kale_Ceaser_Salad

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Macadamia Cheese

Makes: 600g

Prep time: 5 mins (plus 7–12 hours soaking time)

macadamia nut cheese

=R3=

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Serves: 4

Cauliflower Fried Rice

=R4=

Curried Macadamia Kale Chips

Serves: 2–4

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 40 mins

Truffle Kale Chips

=R5=

Fabulously fibrous vegetables

By: Pete Evans

Fibrous vegetables are such nutritional powerhouses that it’s well worth finding more ways to include them in your diet. Fortunately, with recipes like these, that won’t be a chore.


Servings

Prep time

Cook time

Recipe


Ingredients

  • 6–8 rashers of bacon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 bunch (about 300g) kale, finely sliced
  • Juice 1 lemon

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed & halved (optional)
  • 4 macadamia nuts, grated

  • Caesar dressing
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed & finely chopped
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 250mL olive oil
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method


  • Pan-fry the bacon until crisp and golden. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel and leave to cool. Chop into small pieces and set aside.
  • Place eggs in a large saucepan of water. Bring to the boil over medium heat and simmer for 5 mins, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the heat, drain and cool in iced water. Peel, quarter and set aside.
  • To make Caesar dressing, combine egg yolks, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and mustard in a food processor or blender. Process briefly until combined. With the motor running, gradually add the oil, drop by drop, until the dressing has emulsified and thickened slightly. Now pour in oil in a steady stream and continue to process until the dressing is the consistency of pouring cream. Check seasoning, adding salt and pepper or more lemon juice as desired.
  • Place kale in a bowl and add lemon juice and olive oil. Mix gently, rubbing lemon juice and oil into kale, and allow to stand for 5 mins.
  • Place half Caesar dressing on kale and mix gently. Tip dressed kale into a large serving bowl and scatter on parsley, pine nuts and anchovies (if using). Top with bacon, soft-boiled egg and grated macadamia nuts.

  

Tried this recipe? Mention @wellbeing_magazine or tag #wbrecipe!

Pete Evans

Pete Evans

Pete Evans is an internationally renowned chef, restaurateur, author and TV presenter. His passion for food and a healthy lifestyle inspires individuals and families around the world. Pete is a certified health coach with qualifications from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and promotes the Paleo approach to heal the gut.

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