Country Kitchens Blog

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Motivation for cultivation, all year round!

There’s no doubt about it, digging in the dirt and growing your own fruits and vegetables is rewarding both physically and mentally. People who grow their own vegetable garden tend to have an increased level of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption which lowers their risk of developing some chronic diseases (Etheredge et al., 2016). But how do they keep up their enthusiasm for gardening during the cooler months? We understand that each region has their own set of environmental factors to consider. But one thing is for sure, as the weather cools down in Queensland, it is a great time to sit less and move more outside. So, let’s get moving in the garden!

We have put together our top three tips on how to keep up your motivation to move and veggie patch thriving all year round;

  1. Talk to your family and friends. Someone you know that loves to garden may have a wealth of knowledge up their sleeve that you haven’t even thought of yet. I decided to spark up a conversation with our Fabulous Facilitator, Jean Rosendahl of Silkwood Branch, for some of her best tips on how to maintain a vegetable garden during the cooler months.

“In the tropics I advise people to keep up their mulch to keep the weeds down.  I use Dynamic Lifter for fertiliser as it is slow release and put plastic white butterflies on sticks to keep the cabbage moth away.  Do not spray for insects or grubs but pick them off early in the morning and just on dusk.” Jean Rosendahl, Silkwood Branch.

  1. Laying the ground work in Winter will be a benefit for Spring. An example of this is that the ground is too cold in Winter to plant citrus, but we can lay the foundations for Spring. Find a space you would like to plant your trees and then during winter try this:
  • Loosen up the top soil with a pitch fork.
  • Layer 1: approx. 6cm of horse manure or a similar matter packed full of nutrients.
  • Layer 2: Add green waste like plant and lawn clippings or kitchen compost.
  • Layer 3: A layer of mulch to keep the weeds down such as straw.
  • Leave over winter and you will have a nutrient rich garden bed ready for Spring.
  1. Plant your herbs and colourful vegetables in pots. Growing your own fruits and vegetables all year round is a good way to ensure you are getting enough into every meal. By growing your vegetables in pots, it allows you to move them around for the maximum benefit of the sun in Winter. Just make sure to keep the moisture up and be mindful of drainage.

As a bonus tip, QCWA Country Kitchens, has put together a How to Guide on starting your own community garden. If you have established the need within your community for a green space that everybody can benefit from, then Winter is a great time to start the planning process. If you would like a copy of our Community Garden resource then please contact us on today!

Written by Anna Lynch, Health Promotion Team Leader Northern Region.


  1. Etheredge, C., Waliczek, T., & Zajicek, J. (2016). The Influence of Gardening Activities on Self-reported Health Problems, Allergies, and Body Mass Index. Horttechnology26(6), 776-782. doi: 10.21273/horttech03546-16
  2. Vegies, P. (2019). Potted Winter Vegies. Retrieved from
  3. Work, W. (2019). Winter Work. Retrieved from

Brain Food

Healthy Eating for Mental Well being

Mental Health is a complex issue, stemming from a variety of social, biological and environmental factors.  While many of these factors may be out of our control, one contributor to mental health we do have control over is the food we consume.   Even if you do not suffer a form of mental illness in your lifetime, it is likely someone you know will, with one in five Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness in any year (ABS, 2009).

In recent years there has been a focus on the connection between mental health and the food we eat. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to this connection between food and brain health, with strong links between poor mental health in children and adolescents, to diets high in processed foods (O’Neil eta., 2014). Before we get into the specifics of how to eat for a healthy brain, let’s take a step back with a lesson on why what we eat effects our mental health. In order for your brain to decide how to interact with the world around you, elicit appropriate behaviours, improve your chances of survival and make you happy, it has to communicate with your body (Wenk, 2019). It does this through brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The food we use to fuel our bodies has a direct impact on how these transmitters, or brain communicators, work.

The essential vitamins and minerals found in healthy, whole, unprocessed foods are essential to keeping our brain communicating properly; contributing to good mental health. By eating more fruit and vegetables, cooking at home and being aware of the sugar in our drinks it will help ensure that we receive all the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies and brains need. Some especially good brain foods include: fish, oysters, leafy greens, lettuce, capsicum, broccoli and cauliflower! (LaChance & Ramsey, 2018).

Remember those brain communicators we talked about? Well an important one linked to our mood and happiness called serotonin actually has 90% of its receptors in the gut (Naidoo, 2018). High-fat, ultra processed foods common in Australians diet tend to cause inflammation in the gut, negatively affecting these receptors (Naidoo, 2018). Opposite to processed foods, nutrient rich foods, such as fruit, vegetables and lean proteins help your gut thrive. A group of good bacteria called probiotics, found in fermented foods, are particularly good at restoring healthy gut bugs. Try including foods high in naturally occurring probiotics, rather than supplements, into a balanced diet. This includes fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kimchi and more. Refer to Country Kitchens Good Gut Health Guide for more info on how to keep your gut and brain happy! Good Gut Health Guide

Remember, food and nutrition is only one contributing factor in mental illness. If you or someone you know are suffering from mental illness, mood or anxiety disorders consult a professional.

Written by Lindsey Nash, Health Promotion Team Leader Southern Region


Wenk, G. L. (2019). Your brain on food: How chemicals control your thoughts and feelings. Oxford University Press.

O’neil, A., Quirk, S. E., Housden, S., Brennan, S. L., Williams, L. J., Pasco, J. A., … & Jacka, F. N. (2014). Relationship between diet and mental health in children and adolescents: a systematic review. American journal of public health104(10), e31-e42.

Naidoo, Umo. (2018). Gut feelings: how food affects your mood. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from:

LaChance, L. R., & Ramsey, D. (2018). Antidepressant foods: An evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression. World journal of psychiatry8(3), 97–104. doi:10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.97

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.

How to Fall-proof Yourself!

Have you or someone you know ever had a fall?  It can be a scary experience. While slips and falls can happen to anyone, there are strategies you can put in place to lower your risk of injury producing falls. Falls are more common and more impacting as we age. Approximately one third of people aged 65 years or older fall more than one time a year (Don’t Fall For It, Australian Government). Many of these falls require hospitalization and/or medical attention. Reducing risk of falls and the subsequent medical complications, is important as we age. Through incorporating the Country Kitchens key messages into our daily lives, notably sitting less and moving more and eating a variety of healthy foods as recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines, you will lower your risk of falls. The benefits of being physically active include: improved balance and falls prevention, improved bone strength, strengthened muscles and helping to keep lifestyle associated diseases at bay.

So, what is physical activity and how much is enough?

  • Physical activity is any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure.
  • This includes everyday activities (e.g. walking to the shop, gardening) and organised activity (e.g. exercise classes)
  • You can prevent falls by trying some balancing exercise each day (e.g. stand on one foot, heel raises, walking heel to toe)
  • Accumulate at least 30 min of moderate activity on most, preferably all days (e.g. brisk walking, recreational cycling, gardening, swimming)
  • Remember to Sit Less, Move More every day!

Poor nutrition may increase the likelihood of a fall which includes: not eating a balanced diet, not eating enough food and not drinking enough water. This can result in reduced strength and inability to move safely and achieve everyday activities. Eating a variety of nutritious foods is an important factor that contributes to living a healthy life.

How can you make sure you are eating healthy?

  • Incorporate more fruit and vegetables into each meal and aim for 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit. Only 8.50% of Australians 75 years and over are getting enough fruit and vegetables!
  • Colourful vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre
  • That’s 5 cups of lettuce leaves, or 2.5 cups of cooked veg, or 2.5 cups of beans and lentils – each and every day.
  • A serve of fruit may be, 1 banana, 1 apple, 2 apricots or 1 cup of canned fruit (no added sugar).
  • Visit for more information on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating and the 5 food groups.
  • Limit discretionary (sometimes) food as these are high in saturated fats, and/or sugars, added salt and are low in nutrients such as fibre.
  • Visit for healthy recipe ideas.


What to remember:

  • Visit your doctor if you have a fall as this may be a sign of balance problems, muscle weakness, a new medical issue or possibly a combination.
  • Try to stay as active as possible
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods from the five food groups, especially increasing vegetable intake
  • Avoid alcohol and packaged foods.
  • Be aware of sugar in your drinks and always choose water for hydration
  • Cook at Home: this makes you in control of what goes into your meals, so you don’t over-consume foods high in saturated fat, added sugar and salt
  • Check your portion size: check your hunger cues and only eat until satisfied, not eating until fullness.

Department of Health and Ageing 2011

Mixing Kids with Veggies


Do you grandchildren or kids struggle to eat their colourful veggies?

We all know that habits start at a young age. So it’s really important to help children learn and to enjoy healthy food choices by introducing them to a wide variety of foods, early on.  The best way to do this is through play.


Introduce new foods to your young ones by making fruit and vegetable creations with them.  Country Kitchens Pinterest page has some fabulous ideas. 


Pick an activity your young child or grandchildren really likes. When it’s time for a snack, make it fresh fruit and yoghurt. The extra serve of fruit will increase fibre intake and the protein in the yoghurt will fill them up, diminishing the desire to snack more.


Involve children in making choices in the kitchen, such as what should we have with our pasta tonight. This way you’ll be encouraging them to take responsibility for their food selections as they grow. And you’ll be improving their food literacy as well as their nutrition.


Another idea is to encourage kids to contribute to the shopping list, focusing attention on what fruits and vegetables they’d like included. When shopping allow children to choose a new fruit or vegetable that your family has never tried before.


Craft is a good way to involve children with positive food associations, especially if you’re not a cook or find cooking laborious.


When children are irritable or combative, try avoiding discretionary items like chocolate, sweets or chips. Easier said than done sometimes. But, if the younger members of your family have favourite foods that are everyday foods, such as an apple, banana or berries, make that the reward for improved behaviour or for doing a task they are asked to do.


When making a roast, prepare an extra-large tray of pumpkin, potato, carrot, parsnip, onion, and even beetroot and use these in sandwiches and salads, and as snacks.


If children are fussy about certain flavours, you can easily sweeten a meal with vegetables such as carrot, cherry tomatoes or pumpkin.


Eat a rainbow! Each distinct colour vegetable carries its own set of unique disease fighting chemicals called phytochemicals. So make it a game by asking children how many colours they can get into the days’ meals. Remember we “eat with our eye,” so including different coloured vegetables makes a meal visually more appealing, as well as adding a variety of nutrients.


Teaching children how quick, easy and enjoyable preparing vegetables or fruits at home can be is a fundamental way to set them up well for their future relationship with food.


For more information go to



GET MORE F&V INTO YOUR MEALS: 4 tips to eat more in-season

Basket with vegetable and fruit, some pots in the urban garden, London city, UK.

Eating seasonal fruit and veg is positive for the environment and our health. Choosing to include seasonal fruit and veg goes hand in hand with eating locally grown produce and this can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the production and transportation process (Gareth Edwards-Jones, 2010).


From a nutritional perspective, there is no evidence to suggest local foods are more nutritious than non-local food, but eating locally and shopping at the local farmers market has been shown to increase food appreciation, and stimulate positive social networks compared to shopping at the supermarket (O’Kane 2011). Also adding seasonal fruits and vegetables to your diet increase the variety consumed throughout the year. This is a source of different fiber, vitamins, and minerals all required for optimal health and wellbeing.

Extra benefits of eating foods in the season include:

  • They’re often cheaper than out of season options
  • It supports the local economy and our local farmers
  • Food often tastes better when in season
  • Reduces the use of fossil fuels used to run cool rooms

Despite these benefits, seasonal eating can be a little bit tricky especially if you are located in a rural or remote area in Queensland. Often what is grown in the regional food bowls are transported across the Country to central markets in larger cities and the town is left with little fresh produce, and unfortunately, this fresh produce often costs a lot more to purchase compared to the city counterparts.

To eat seasonally here are four top tip


1. Shop at the local farmer’s market:

Chat to the farmers about what is currently in season. If you are in doubt, ask the lovely staff what is currently in season and where it is from. Knowing more about the distance the food has traveled to get to your shopping cart and dinner plate can help to make informed decisions about whether or not you want to make a purchase.

2. Go directly to the farmer: 

Don’t have a local grocer or farmer’s market in your area? Why not go directly to the farmer? There are also some great companies like Aussie Farmers Direct and Food Connect that source local and fresh produce from independent farmers, support seasonal produce and cut out the middleman so more money goes back to the farmer. It supports local economies, farmers and makes seasonal eating a lot easier.

3. Download the seasonal wheel:

A seasonal wheel is an online resource that can be printed and stuck on the fridge. It provides a good summary of what is in season for South East Queensland. Download it here:

4. Start a veggie patch:

One of the best ways to know more about where your food comes from is to grow your own. Although this can require a lot of effort, balcony and pot veggie gardens are still a great way to grow your own fruit and veg and supplement cooking at home with freshly grown herbs and spices. Check out some useful tips and tricks.


Have some seasonal eating tips you wish to share? Comment Below:



Shot of a group of friends making a toast over dinner

Can you believe Christmas is already upon us?

With an abundance of delicious and treat foods available to enjoy over the silly season, often many families over consume sugary drinks during this period. Events in the park with friends on a late Sunday afternoon can result in too many laughs and too many drinks. Additionally, those Sunday BBQ’s at mums can lead to a little too much of the sweet stuff.

The team at QCWA Country Kitchens has put their heads together to come up with some delicious and healthy iced teas. Although some recipes below have sugar in them, compared to a standard bought iced teas which often have upwards of 4.5 teaspoons per standard 300ml glass (equivalent to 15 teaspoons of sugar per 500ml), making your own iced tea is a great way to reduce the amount of sugar consumed over the festive period.

 4 iced tea recipes to keep you hydrated this silly season:


Lemon Myrtle and Raspberry Iced Tea 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 2.4

Serves 6                                Preparation Time:  95 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

lemon myrtle iced tea


8 green and lemon myrtle tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea

4 tablespoons of a sweetener of your choice

1 bunch of fresh mint shredded

2 litres of filtered water, boiled

1 punnet of fresh raspberry or frozen if preferred, to garnish

A few sprigs of mint, to garnish



COMBINE the tea, sweetener, mint and boiling water in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 30 minutes.

REMOVE the tea bags or strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

REFRIGERATE for an hour until cool.

ADD mint, raspberries, and ice to serving glasses or jug.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team, adapted from Madura Tea Recipes



Pineapple and Thyme Iced Tea 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 0

Serves 8                                Preparation Time:  95 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Pineapple iced tea


2 litres water, boiled

8 teabags of green tea

½ fresh pineapple, skin removed and chopped to small 1 cm cubes

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 lime, quartered and juiced

2 sprigs fresh thyme, to garnish



COMBINE the tea and thyme in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 15 minutes.

REMOVE the teabags and thyme or strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

ADD pineapple, lime.

REFRIGERATE for an hour until cool.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug and garnish with thyme leaves.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team


Raspberry and Ginger Fizz 

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 0.3

Serves 4                                Preparation Time:  60 minutes                        Cooking Time: 0 minutes

Raspberry and ginger fizz


2 handfuls of raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 teaspoon sugar

1 handful mint, roughly shredded

3 tablespoons fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 litre of mineral water

1 handful fresh raspberries, to garnish



PLACE raspberries, sugar, ginger, and mint in a bowl or jug.

MASH until well combined.

ADD mineral water.

REFRIGERATE until cool.

SERVE over ice, garnished with fresh raspberries.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team, adapted from Jamie Oliver


Peach and Rosemary Iced Tea

Teaspoons sugar per 300ml: 1.8


Serves 8                                Preparation Time:  50 minutes                        Cooking Time: 5 minutes


Homemade peach and thyme iced tea


2 litre boiling water

4 tea English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea

6 large peaches, peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons sugar

2 stalks of rosemary, rinsed




COMBINE the tea and water in a jug.

SET ASIDE for 10 minutes then remove the teabags/strain the tea to remove the loose leaf tea.

PLACE peaches and sugar into a pot and simmer until the peaches have reduced

PUREE the peaches and sugar until a smooth consistency forms.

STRAIN the peach mixture and add it to the tea.

ADD the rosemary stalks.

REFRIGERATE for 40 minutes until cool.

POUR the ice tea mixture into the glasses or jug.


Courtesy of QCWA Country Kitchens Team

CHECK YOUR PORTION SIZE: Four easy steps to control portion sizes



Serve sizes can be confusing and even if you think you are making the right choice, often the food manufacturer dictates how much of a product they constitute as a serve.

Additionally, how we eat a meal and from what type of plate can also have an impact on how much food is consumed.

With the size of dinner plates around Australia increasing year after year, and take-away portions large enough to feed a family, knowing what to look for and implementing some strategies to check in with your portion sizes is a great way maintain health.


  1. Check in with how big your dinner plates are:

Dinner plates are bigger than they used to be. An average dinner size plate is 28.5cm. Go on, get out the measuring tape and measure your dinner plate you might just be surprised.

To check in with your portion sizes, use a smaller plate for some or all meals. And if you’re unsure of what is actually a healthy portion size, head to


  1. Know your fruit and veg serve sizes:

For general health and well-being, and to reduce the risk of chronic disease, it is recommended Australians consume 5 serves of vegetables and 2 serves of fruit per day. And remember a serve of vegetables = 1/2 cup or 75g cooked vegetables or 1 cup salad. A serve of fruit = 1 medium piece of fruit 0r 150g fresh fruit. Interestingly, children still require almost just as much as adults when it comes to fruit and veg. From the age of 9, it is recommended children consume the same healthy serve sizes of fruit and vegetables as adults.

 Tip: Based on a family of four, that’s ten cups of vegetables per day.


  1. Know your discretionary foods serve sizes:


Remember discretionary foods are foods that you can eat at your discretion or sometimes. They are not an essential part of the diet because they are often high in saturated fat, sodium, sugar and low in fibre. But how much is too much?

Here are some example discretionary foods and the recommended appropriate serve sizes.


  • Enjoy no more than 2 standard drinks on any day
  • Enjoy 2 alcohol-free days each week
  • Consume no more than 4 standard drinks on any one occasion
  • 1 standard drink contains 10g of alcohol (100ml wine, 285ml full-strength beer, 60ml port or sherry, 30ml spirits)

Soft drink:

  • 375ml (1 can) soft drink


  • 2 scoops (75g) regular ice cream


  • 25g chocolate (a small bar or 4 squares)

Hot chips:

  • 12 (60g) fried hot chips

For more examples go to To work out how many serves of discretionary food you’re eating each day, one serve is 600kJ.


  1. Plate your meal and set the table. 

Although we live in a world that is in love with convenience, making a time to eat and enjoy your meal can help check your portion size.

  • Set aside time for each meal breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Set the table
  • Choose a plate, opt for your food to fill the imaginary line no bigger than your hand span
  • When eating out of a container for lunch or when eating takeaway, plate your meal

Sit Less, Move More: Lessons from Steptember


During the month of September, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team stepped it up a notch and joined Steptember. The team thought it was a great opportunity to increase our daily exercise, and create new healthy habits that align with sitting less and moving more. Plus we also wanted to raise some much-needed money for people living with cerebral palsy who often don’t have the opportunity to walk and move around as much as us.

To learn more about cerebral palsy please visit The Cerebral Palsy Alliance that aim to support people living with a physical and neurological disability.

The goals set by the team behind Steptember were to achieve 10,000 steps per day. So did the QCWA Country Kitchen Team achieve this? And What did we do to get many more steps in each day?

Here’s how we did:

Despite an amazing effort by the team, aiming for 10,000 steps per day was a challenge. Our final number of steps was 819, 979 steps. That’s an average of around 6000 steps per day with a team of five of us.

Here’s what we did:

Bec started getting the train from the Gold Coast just to get some early morning steps in and has started running up some big beachside hills occasionally after work.

Fiona used everyday activities such as shopping and gardening to get her steps up. She also noticed that being on the road and conducting Hands On Nutrition Workshops achieved an amazing 7500 steps!

Alice started a daily exercise routine and would make an effort to put her headphones in when talking to friends and family so she could get stepping.

Chloe started getting the train in the morning to work and added a few extra steps to her morning routine

Connie decided that getting to work early was the best way to get some extra steps on her a morning run. Connie also made a huge effort to do an hourly was in her local area each day.


Lessons from Steptember

Achieving 10,000 steps per day is challenging but it is no excuse not to try. Here are some of the QCWA Country Kitchens teams’ ideas on how we can all bump up our steps every day.


Before work

  • Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier and get out for a crisp morning walk or run
  • Choose to take public transport, bike or walk to work
  • Meet a colleague or friend before work and head to the local park for a chat and walk


During work

  • Set a reminder to get up, get a glass of water and do some steps on the spot
  • Invest in a standing desk
  • Take the stairs at every opportunity
  • At lunch, get the team together, put your walking shoes on and head out for a stroll
  • Keep a pair of walking shoes under your desk and ready to go


After work

  • Get outside, get some fresh air and get those steps up
  • Cook dinner to music and move your body
  • When grocery shopping, choose a carpark furthest away from the entrance and walk the extra distance
  • Join a sports team once or twice a week
  • Call a friend, put your headphones in and get walking


Every day we can all aim for more steps, remember that every little bit counts and investing in a good pair of walking shoes can add motivation. Although Steptember is great, remember to sit less and move more every day not just for the month of September. Setting a goal and aiming for 10,000 steps each day is a great way to stay motivated for the remainder of the year.

For more tips and tricks on how to get more active check out the Healthier. Happier website for easy to do, everyday activities.

COOK AT HOME: Flying solo? Tips and tricks to get you cooking at home.

Woman cooking

Did you know that 1 in 4 Australian households are a one person only households? (ABS Census of Housing and Population, 2011).

Although living alone can depict a picture of loneliness and isolation, some people enjoy living along as the benefit include increased independence, a stress-free environment and taking the time to do what they want, when they want. However, living alone can also be a challenge when it comes to cooking and preparing meals.

Cooking for one whether you live alone or with others can be thought of as a barrier but don’t fret, cooking can still be enjoyable, taste great and be highly nutritious, all without much of the effort. In line with the QCWA’s Cook At Home key message, cooking for one is no excuse not to get back in the kitchen and experiment with old and new recipes.

To make cooking for one more enjoyable and less time consuming, the QCWA Country Kitchens Team have put together some tips and tricks to making cooking for one, easy, nutritious and enjoyable.


Top tips and tricks to get you cooking for one:


  1. Take time to cook a nutritious meal and enjoy experimenting with old and new recipes in the kitchen: We are all living such busy lives these days and the joy of cooking seems to have been replaced with resentment. Take the time to plan your meals, buy the produce, speak to the locals and enjoy the entire process of nourishing your body.
  2. Invite the neighbours over or a friend to enjoy a meal with you: Cooking for one can get a bit boring and lonely at times. To combat this, broaden your social network and invite the neighbours over or reconnect with family or old friends and enjoy great conversation over a tasty meal.
  3. Cook for 2, 3, or 4, pack away and store in the freezer for a later date: Once a month, cook up a big pot of soup or savoury mince and portion these into smaller packs ready for the month ahead. This makes cooking much easier when you simply can’t be bothered, fall sick or have an extremely busy day.
  4. Opt for a nutritious toasty: Cooking a nutritious and tasty meal doesn’t have to be a huge effort. A simple toasted cheese sandwich can do the job. On a slice of bread, add pesto, baked beans, and top with fresh spinach. Slice up your favourite cheese and place over the spinach. Bake until the cheese melts.
  5. Buy vegetables that go with multiple dishes: Choosing vegetables that are versatile and that you enjoy. For example, zucchini is a great veggie, perfect for soups, on toasties, grated into Bolognese or even chargrilled on the barbecue.
  6. Add frozen vegetables to meals: These days frozen meals are a great option. It is better to pull the veggies out of the freezer than to have none at the dinner table. For extra convenience, choose the packets that a pre-portioned and add to any breakfast, lunch or dinner for an antioxidant boost!


If you have any tips or tricks, please let us know. We would love to hear from you and share your ideas with the rest of the QCWA Country Kitchens Community!

COOK AT HOME: Quick and easy tips to making vegetables appealing and easy.



Hands up if you’re frequently too busy or too tired to prepare fruit and vegetables at home? Even when a quick meal is already planned, it too can seem too long.

As you open the fridge looking for inspiration, you’re greeted with a limited number of ingredients, few or no vegetables. This further adds to the potential dinner effort and the desire to cook reduces even more.

If this is a common occurrence or even a random occasion, here are some top tips to ensure preparing vegetables and fruit become easy. Remember, the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends five serves of vegetables each day. One serve is either ½ cup (75g) of cooked vegetables or 1 cup of salad.

List all your families staple ‘go to’ meals:

Once you learn which ingredients suit your tastes, preparing fresh fruit and vegetables will become much quicker and easier than you thought.

 A good place to start is to think about the types of meals that you and your family really enjoy. Most families have a small set of meals and recipes that they rely on, which are prepared regularly across a week or fortnight. For example, it might be lamb chops on Monday, Spaghetti Bolognaise midweek and a take away roast chicken on Sunday.

Match your favourites with a set of colourful veggies:

Alongside your list of meals, make a list of the fruits and vegetables you like. Now think about how you could add these to the family recipes identified. For example, add diced mushrooms, celery, carrot or silver beet to your Spaghetti Bolognaise.

At this point it’s a good idea to write up the families modified recipes and put them somewhere obvious so whoever is cooking that night, knows the plan.

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. In my household we use roasted pumpkin as a spread in sandwiches for school. It’s a real hit!

Look at each meal as an opportunity to get added veg:

Increasing the amount of vegetables in you and your families diet is a great way to improve health. If you leave the dinner meal as the only opportunity to eat vegetables, there is no way you are going to each the 5 serves per day. And even so, your meal is likely to just be veggies and not balanced with whole grains and lean proteins. The best way to get added veggies in is to look at breakfast, lunch and dinner as an opportunity increase  your veg intake. Try a vegetarian omelette or baked tomatoes for a savory breakfast.

In the evening and after dinner:

Try substituting chocolate at the end of an evening meal with low fat yoghurt and fruit. The extra serve of fruit will increase your fibre intake and the protein in the yoghurt will fill you up so you’re not tempted to snack more.

Stock up on frozen veg:

When fresh food is difficult to obtain, canned or frozen has almost the same nutrition as fresh.  It’s a good idea to keep some frozen veggies in the freezer for an easy meal that just needs a little meat added, a sauce and some heat applied. Canned tomatoes are a great pantry staple.

Choose different colours:

If children are fussy about certain flavours you can easily sweeten a meal with vegetables such as carrot, cherry tomatoes or jap pumpkin.  Remember we eat with our eyes, so including different coloured vegetables makes a meal visually more appealing, as well as adding a variety of nutrients.


Armed with these simple ideas and your family’s updated recipes, you’ll not only be adding more fruit and vegetables to your diets but you’ll be improving the health of your family as well. Enjoy!


For more information go to



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