Diet & Nutrition

Nadia Lim on her first vegetarian cookbook, misunderstood veggies and how she gets greens into her kids

Vegful is for anyone who wants to do better with veggies, she says.

With vegetarianism and veganism on the rise, New Zealanders are not only becoming more aware of the benefits of following a plant-based diet, but also of the negative impact farming animals can have on the environment.
Celebrity cook, nutritionist and co-founder of My Food Bag, Nadia Lim, says she has wanted to put out a cookbook dedicated entirely to vegetables for a while, but has been waiting "for the right time".
That time is now.
Nadia has just released Vegful, a book she describes as "a vegetable cookbook" rather than a vegetarian cookbook.
She explains, "I've created this book for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike. Whatever way we choose to eat, there is no doubt that eating more vegetables would do all of us good. So instead of a vegetarian cookbook, I'd more accurately describe this as a vegetable cookbook, or a vegful cookbook!"
Containing more than 100 recipes that "celebrate beautiful, colourful, bountiful vegetables", it provides inspiration for those of us who know we can do better with vegetables - we just need a little guidance!
In this Q&A, Nadia lets us in on what we'll find in its pages, where she got her inspiration for her recipes from and how she gets veggies into her kids!
Nadia in the garden with her sons, Bodhi (right) and River.
Tell us about Vegful – what will we find in its pages?
Loads of delicious, easy-to-make recipes that celebrate vegetables. Whilst all the recipes are vegetarian and/or vegan, this book is for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike – because there's no doubt about it that eating more vegetables would do all of us good!
Where did its inspiration come from?
I've always wanted to write a vegetarian cookbook as, whilst I'm not vegetarian, I love vegetarian food and we regularly eat meatless meals at home. I found that once I started making vegetables the starting point of the meal it became easier and easier to come up with delicious vegetarian dishes.
Kumara, chickpea and mushroom burger
Which recipe in Vegful are you most excited about?
I chose to hold the burger (Kumara, Chickpea and Mushroom Burgers) on the front cover because it's not what you'd expect to see on the cover of a vegetarian cookbook. I wanted to show people that vegetarian food can look (and taste!) just as delicious!
What are some of the interesting things you can do with vegetables to make them taste amazing?
Crisp and raw, roasted until sweet and caramelised, braised until meltingly tender, blended until velvety smooth, stir-fried, grilled, barbecued, steamed, blanched, mashed, baked. Anything but boiled, actually!
I'll blanch, lightly boil or steam veggies, but never boil them until they're limp, mushy and tasteless. I reckon that's the reason why lots of people hate Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other misunderstood vegetables. Try raw Brussel sprouts finely sliced in a slaw, or roasted until caramelised and you might change your mind!
Brussel sprouts, apple and almond slaw
Do you think New Zealanders are creative with veggies in the kitchen?
We're definitely becoming more so, especially with the likes of Middle Eastern and Indian style cuisines becoming more well known. Lebanese cuisine, for example, is starting to really take off and they have loads of amazing vegetarian dishes.
What's the secret to getting kids to eat their veggies? Do your children eat theirs? ;)
Haha, I wish I knew that secret! I do have to hide vegetables in sauces (like the Autumn Harvest Sauce in the book) or the Veggie Pops (delicious green ice blocks that my two boys love).
I think as long as your kids at least try them then that's a great start. I don't really force Bodhi to eat anything, though I will negotiate with him to try something or just have 'three spoons' of something before he gets a treat after his meal. I'm hoping one day, his taste buds will wake up and he'll just love vegetables of all sorts!