So you've grown broccoli, but how do you eat it?  Here's the place to:

  • ask how to prepare your produce using healthy recipes
  • share your healthy recipes or ask how a traditional recipe might be made healthier
  • how to store and preserve your surplus food
  • tips about healthy eating

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Fried Rice - one bowl meal

One of my favourite week-night dinners that uses lots of winter veg is fried rice. 

I cook twice as much rice as I need for the dinner the night before, then use the left-overs in this recipe.

Many recipes say to spread the left-over rice on a tray to cool, covered with a clean tea towel.  This helps to keep the grains separate.  Then store it in a container in the fridge or freeze it.

Leftover cooked meat like chicken, pork or beef strips can also be used in this recipe.


Serves 4

2 Tbsp vegetable oil, such as canola or rice bran

3 beaten eggs (protein)

125-250 g of other protein, eg chopped cooked meat or seafood* or tofu

3 green onions, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped (optional)

1-2 carrots, diced

Other vegetables**

5 cups cold cooked long-grain rice

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

Handful of dry roasted nuts, eg peanuts or cashews (optional)

2 Tbsp sauce of choice eg soy sauce, or green curry paste & fish sauce, or Hoi Sin sauce, or lime zest & juice with chilli sauce, or ... (vary according to the tastes you like)


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan.  Swirl in the beaten egg and fry until golden, turning once.  Roll up and transfer to a plate.
  2. Add the green onion, carrot, meat, garlic (if using), curry paste (if using) and any thick vegetables.  Stir-fry 30 seconds - 1 minute.
  3. Add the rice, peas and the rest of the vegetables, stir-fry for another 2 minutes.
  4. Slice the cooked egg into strips.  Add back into the pan and stir-fry for 1 more minute.
  5. Stir in the sauce(s) of your choice and nuts (if using).
  6. Serve and enjoy hot!

If you have leftovers, take them to work the next day & heat up for lunch - yum!

* seafood - shrimps, prawns, squid rings and mussels are low in fat and cook quickly, which is useful in a stir fry.  Mussels are also high in  Omega 3.

** A healthy plate of food has twice as many vegetables as carbohydrate - the carbohydrate in this case is rice.

Vegetables might include:

capsicum (sweet pepper - I slice & freeze some when they are in season), asparagus peas (eaten frilly pod & all), snow peas, broad beans, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, any of the cabbages -green, red (thinly sliced), Chinese cabbage (eg bok choi, tat soi), silverbeet or rainbow beet (including sliced stems), young beetroot leaves, spinach, sliced kale, garlic chives, turnips (tops and chopped roots), violet leaves, mushrooms, rocket, shredded radicchio, sliced sorrel, sliced celery, thinly sliced Jerusalem artichoke, chopped apple or yacon for sweetness, sliced chilli for heat...  Top with chopped fresh coriander if you have some.

Getting insects out of your harvest...

Sometimes when you harvest your cabbages etc they will have insects like aphidsearwigs etc living on them.  Put them in a bowl of water with a little vinegar or salt and leave them for a few minutes.  The bugs will usually float to the top of the water, and go down the plughole with the water...


Winter is a great time to be eating soups - they warm you up from the inside and make an excellent lunch.

This picture is of a Crown pumpkin, but you could use any well flavoured pumpkin for this recipe. 

Basic ingredients:


Pumpkin cooking water or stock or left over chicken gravy.

Salt & pepper


1) Cut the pumpkin up and scoop out the seeds*  (see 2nd photo)

2) Put it into a large pot and cover with boiling water.  Cook until soft on the stove top on a low heat.  It will take for 10-20 minutes depending on how big the pieces are.

3) Drain (keep 1 litre of the cooking water, if using).

4) Allow to cool a little, then peel the pieces.

5) Mash or use a food processor or stick blender (see 3rd photo) to make a smooth puree.  

Mix in some of the cooking water/stock/gravy to make it as runny as you like it.  

Add pepper and a little salt.

6) Enjoy with a bread roll or toast!  (I have used parsley as a yummy  garnish.)



  • Cook a quartered onion with the pumpkin, and blend it in to the soup
  • Add some finely chopped chilli or and a can of lite coconut milk in Step 5
  • Fry a spoonful of your favourite curry paste before mashing the pumpkin in
  • Add a little nutmeg to taste
  • Cook some thin noodles, and stir them in at the end (Lei's tip!)
  • Top with a spoonful of unsweetened yogurt or low fat sour cream.  

*You can toast the pumpkin seeds as a snack.


Nourish sends out a free weekly Meatless Monday recipe, such as a recipe for Savoury Pumpkin Tart that uses leeks – something you can harvest at the moment. 

Many cultures eat lots of vegetarian meals, replacing the meat with other forms of protein such as beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, eggs, etc.

Vegetarian dishes are very healthy, can be very tasty, filling and good for the planet.  Internationally we are being encouraged to eat less meat, having at least one or two vegetarian meals each week (hence Meatless Mondays).

In some countries being vegetarian = being poor (vegetarian food is cheaper), but here in NZ it is usually a choice for reasons of religion, health, animal welfare and/or a concern for the environment. 

I have some booklets on healthy eating for vegetarians put out by the Ministry of Health: contact me if you would like one posted out to you (ph 834-1482). 


Photo: Home-grown shiitake mushrooms -a great source of protein with a meaty flavour.

Harvesting now: LEEKS

I took a home-grown leek to the WIC display at the Aere Ki Mua Sports Day – it was a new vegetable to some of you.  Leeks are a mild-flavoured member of the onion family and grow well in our winter gardens. 

One of Nourish’s Meatless Monday recipes is for a leek and Jerusalem artichoke soup – one of many variations on the traditional leek and potato soup. Make a big pot – it often tastes even better reheated the next day. 

Jerusalem artichokes are ready to harvest as you need them over winter, and if you are like me you may have some potatoes in storage that you grew over the summer.  As one of my work mates said today, it is so satisfying to see something grow from a tiny seed you have planted into something you can enjoy eating.

Photo: homegrown leeks and potatoes, with leek & potato soup.

Eating Cabbage

Cabbages grow well in winter.  They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Consider mixing red and green cabbage for a more colourful meal!

In Morocco (North Africa) they make a simple but delicious salad from finely chopped cabbage and parsley tossed with vinaigrette (a type of salad dressing).

The Sanitarium web site has several cabbage recipes including spicy Asian Market Noodles

The new Heart Foundation Vegetable Cookbook has a recipe for a colourful cabbage and corn stir fry (p.16), and on their web site Shanghai Pork & Savoy Cabbage Dumplings, Pisupo (corned beef stir fry), Spicy Indian Corned Beef and Crunchy Summer Coleslaw.

Coleslaw is a cabbage salad that traditionally includes grated carrot, finely chopped onion and chopped celery. My winter version (see photo) also includes: spring onion, raw broccoli broken into small pieces (crunchy, sweet), chopped parsley, chopped yacon (crunchy, juicy, sweet), sprouts, mandarin pieces and chopped kiwifruit.  I toss it with home-made vinaigrette.

Home-made Salad Dressings

much cheaper than buying it, especially if you grow your own lemons!  

Portion size: allow up to 2 tsp per person.

The simplest salad dressing is just a squeeze of lemon juice! 

Most salad dressings are just variations on vinaigrette (sometimes called French Dressing) and mayonnaise.

Vinaigrette: Mix the juice of 1 lemon, 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil. Optionally add a pinch of salt and some pepper. You can either mix these through the salad or put in a jar and shake.  

Serve at room temperature – the oil can go solid in the refrigerator.

Vinaigrette only takes about 2 minutes to make.  If you haven’t got lemons, use 1 dessert spoon of vinegar instead (vinegar has a stronger flavour than lemon juice, so you use less).   


It is traditional in NZ to dress coleslaw, potato salad and waldorf salad with mayonnaise.  Or cheat and make the vinaigrette but add some unsweetened yogurt, as they do in the Heart Foundation's Crunchy Summer Coleslawrecipe.


Mayonnaise is easy to make, especially if you have a blender or food processor. Otherwise use a whisk.  This recipe takes about 10 minutes and makes 1 cup. You will need:

1 egg or egg yolk

Pinch of cayenne pepper

½ tsp mustard (don’t leave this out – it helps to thicken the dressing)

A pinch of salt and pepper

2 Tbsp lemon juice, OR 1 Tbsp vinegar and 1 Tbsp water

1 cup of vegetable oil (olive oil is good)

 Combine egg, cayenne, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and ¼ cup of the oil in the container of a food processor or blender.  Put the lid on.

  1. Turn on the machine and, with the machine running, add the rest of the oil in a thin, steady stream.  It will start to thicken when you’re about halfway through.
  2. If the mixture is thicker than you like it, add a little warm water or a little sour cream.

This recipe works best with fresh eggs at room temperature.   Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, use within one week. 


Experiment with your salad or coleslaw dressing by adding some of the flavours from your culture’s cooking traditions.  If you like things spicy hot, stir in some wasabi, minced horseradish, mustard or chopped chilli.  For example, for a Thai style mayonnaise you might add some additional lemon or lime, fish sauce and a little sweet chilli sauce.

Sabzi Plaou (Broad Bean Recipe) (by Majgan, Iran)

Serves 4 people



2 cups rice (basmati or other good quality rice)

1 cup shelled Broad Beans – fresh or dried

Salt to taste

5-6 Tbsp Olive oil

1/2 cup Fresh Herbs – chopped:

eg Dill, Mint, Coriander, or Parsley- choose the one that you like.

1 Potato  



  1.  Boil the beans with 1/2tsp salt until semi-cooked - Not fully cooked: fresh beans for 5 minutes; dried beans for 8-10 minutes
  2. Boil the rice with 1 tsp salt and 2Tbls oil until soft.
  3. Cut the potato into thin round slices, 1.5cm - 2cm thick.
  4. In a lightly oiled pot put a layer of all the potato slices and sprinkle with some salt and olive oil (this is just for the first layer)
  5. Now put a layer of boiled rice
  6. Then put a layer of boiled broad beans and top with your favorite herb
  7. Following the same process, make another layer but don’t put the potato layer this time.
  8. Finally put 2-3 Tblsp of olive oil on top and cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.

 Serve with some Fresh garden Salad and home made plain yogurt.


In some countries, a plaou is called pilau.  There are many versions.

Broad beans are a winter bean, which can be dried or frozen to use all year around.  They are sometimes called fava beans.  They grow well here.

Photo: Broad bean flowers being pollinated by a bumblebee.

Broad beans on the vine...

This photo was taken 1 Nov 2011.  

The beans had been planted at the end of July 2011 (WIC launch ceremony). 

They were grown in a large pot on a balcony.

The value of DIVERSITY – in WIC, in your garden, on your plate…

When we shift to a new country and can’t get our familiar foods, it is tempting to eat less variety. 

WIC has over 30 different food traditions to draw on, so WIC provides a great opportunity to share your food culture and to try something new! 

Research has found that even if you don’t like a new food the first time you try it, by continuing to eat just a little bit (even if just to be polite!) you will usually learn to like it after 5-20 times (my workmate did this with custard, I did this with olives—it really works). 

Why is this important? 

  • Our ancestors ate a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables than we do.  We need to eat more variety to be healthy.
  • Climate change has brought more weather extremes.  By planting a wider variety of crops we have a better chance of at least something growing well — eg usually we grow lots of tomatoes over the summer here, but last summer most people’s tomato crops did poorly.  By planting lots of different things, we would still have enough to eat.
  • Learning to like new tastes includes enjoying the taste of healthier foods with more fibre, less fat and less sugar.

So be bold—try a new fruit or vegetable today!  Don’t expect to like it the first time, but give it a chance. 

Photo: Teresa (Kiribati) tastes something new at a preserving workshop.



Evo, from Niue, grows kaluku or birds nest fern, a favourite vegetable from the Islands: they eat the leaves when they reach about 15 cm long. It tastes a bit like asparagus, only better (I have a pakeha friend who has tried it and she agrees!) 

It is thought to be called a birds nest fern because it perches up in trees.  Here, it usually is grown as an indoor pot plant.  You could grow it in a tunnel house, but not in direct sunlight - matching it's natural habitat.

Many cultures eat ferns - in Radar Across the Pacific, Te Radar tried blanched fern in Fiji which he found delicious.

Andrew Crowe’s book, Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand, has a chapter on NZ edible ferns - most public libraries hold this book. 

Maori called  unfurling new fronds pikopiko, and ate some pikopiko varieties such as the 'Hen and Chicken fern.' See photo - the large frond is the hen and the baby plant growing on it is the chicken.

Many native ferns are available from garden centres or nurseries if you want to grow your own.  (Do not take them from parks.) 

Maori chef Charles Royal has a recipe for Toroii PikoPiko (chilled soup) on his Kinaki Wild Herbs site - PikoPiko is also his logo.  You can sign up for a free monthly recipe on his site.

Charles Royal says that of the 312 varieties of fern that grow in the NZ bush, only seven varieties are edible.

Solanum - especially black nightshade

I love the way WIC gives us the chance to learn about new foods from other cultural traditions!  I visited the container garden of Evo, from Niue.  She pointed out what they call polo fua (Solanum nigrum), which is called black nightshade in English or raupeti in Maori (See photos)

In Niuean tradition nightshade leaves are cooked and eaten: she particularly likes them baked with chicken.  In NZ we also have a native small-flowered nightshade (Solanum nodiflorum previously called Solanum americanum) which is eaten by Maori like spinach. 

Like most Pakeha I had been taught that these two plants are poisonous weeds!

Robin Slaughter from the NZ National Poisons Centre says that many people get confused between deadly nightshade (which is poisonous, as the name says) and black nightshade (Atropa belladonna).  To tell the two plants apart, look at the flowers: black nightshade has star-shaped, white flowers while deadly nightshade has purple, bell-shaped flowers. Deadly nightshade is very rare in New Zealand.  As with many plants, the unripe fruit (ie green) of the black and small-flowered nightshade is toxic.  The ripe fruit (black-coloured) are edible.

Andrew Crowe in his Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand has more information on how black and small-flowered nightshade is traditionally eaten (page 72-73) – both Hamilton City Libraries and South Waikato District Libraries hold this book. He reports that black nightshade is eaten in many countries such as parts of Africa, China, Greece, West Indies and El Salvador.  The Maori Women’s Welfare League published recipes for raupeti jam.  Nightshade is in the same family (Solanum) as tomatoes, eggplant/aubergine/brinjal and potato. 

Other native members of the Solanum plant family also traditionally eaten by Maori are Solanum laciniatum and Solanum aviculare, which look very similar and called by the same Maori name: poroporo. The ripe berries of poroporo are eaten – if you can get to them before the birds! Ripe berries are yellowish-orange and look like mini-tamarillos (and yes, tamarillos are also in the Solanum family). Poroporo fruit can be eaten raw or cooked.  The unripe berries are toxic, some say the leaves are too.  It is an attractive shrub with pale violet flowers.



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