International Year of Fruits and Vegetables – 2021 (IYFV-21)

The United Nations has named 2021 “The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables”, aiming to raise awareness on the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables.

This year is dedicated to promoting not only important nutritional and health benefits but the vital role fruits and vegetables play in food security and achieving more sustainable lifestyles worldwide.

Increasing consumption of more plant-based foods and reducing food waste are key messages to encourage sustainable eating patterns that support our health and the environment.

Sustainable eating patterns defined by The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)1 include:

  • Prioritising plant based proteins over animal based protein; eating more whole grains, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds and reduced amounts of processed, red meat and dairy products
  • Eating local, seasonal, fresh fruit and vegetables and choosing tinned or frozen when out of season to help reduce food waste.

Sustainable eating supports health through increased fibre intake, it contributes to improve overall health, helping lower the risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, including colorectal cancer2. These eating patterns help the environment by contributing to lowered carbon footprints, reducing greenhouse emissions, land and water use2.

In support of IYFV-21, you’ll find some simple, plant-based, winter recipes to get you started below!

You can also find the latest seasonal fruit and veg factsheets on our website along with some more seasonal recipes for January here.

“The IYFV 2021 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health and as well in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

(FAO, 2020)


1 FAO and WHO (2019) Sustainable healthy diets – Guiding principles. Available:

2 FAO (2020) Fruit and vegetables – your dietary essentials. The International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, 2021, background paper. Available:

Nutrition Scotland - Beans and pepper veg chilli

Beans and Pepper Veg Chilli

This is a colourful alternative to the traditional chilli con carne and packed with nutrients. It contains beans that are high in fibre and protein, and bell peppers which are a great source of vitamin C.

Ingredients (serves 4):

• 500g sweet potatoes (or white will work just as well)
• 800g mixed beans, boiled from raw or tinned
• 2 mixed-colour bell peppers
• 800g plum tomatoes, tinned or fresh if in season
• 1 onion, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground cumin and cinnamon
• 2 fresh chillies
• A bunch of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
• Lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven (200°C/Gas mark 6)
  2. Peel and chop potatoes and place on a baking tray
  3. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste Drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil and roast until golden – around 1hr
  4. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, garlic, sliced peppers and cook until softened
  5. Add the chopped coriander, chillies and spices, cook gently for 5-10 minutes
  6. Stir in the beans and plum tomatoes
  7. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes
  8. Add the roasted potatoes and season with salt and pepper
  9. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and top with coriander
  10. Serve with pitta bread or rice, guacamole and plant-based yogurt – delicious!
Nutrition Scotland - Mushroom-stuffed cabbage rolls

Mushroom-stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cabbage rolls are a traditional polish winter dish typically stuffed with pork mince but here’s a more sustainable version. The mushrooms and rice make this a filling, tasty, seasonal recipe. Cabbage is rich in vitamin C and folate which support the immune system and help combat tiredness and fatigue.

Ingredients (makes 15 rolls):

  • 1 large savoy cabbage, cored
  • 500g white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 70g brown rice, uncooked
  • 1 can plum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 80g walnuts, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • A bunch of fresh thyme leaves (optional)


  1. Place the cabbage in a large pot with lightly salted boiling water, cook for 10 minutes, remove from the water and allow to cool before carefully removing the leaves.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, add onion, garlic, thyme leaves (optional) and cook until softened.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook for around 5 minutes, then add walnuts and season with salt.
  4. Add the mixture to a bowl with the uncooked rice and stir until uniform.
  5. Carefully remove the tough stems of the cabbage leaves with a sharp knife. Scoop a tbsp of the mixture into each leaf, fold in sides first and then roll.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Place rolls in a baking dish greased with oil and a layer of plum tomatoes.
  7. Top with any broken cabbage leaves and remaining tomatoes. Sprinkle some thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper
  8. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for about 45 minutes.
Nutrition Scotland - Veggie spaghetti bolognese

Veggie Spaghetti Bolognese

Try this plant-based version of the popular Italian Spaghetti Bolognese. Swap beef mince for red lentils and mushrooms:

  • Red lentils are a store-cupboard staple high in protein and a source of fibre, important for good gut health. They are also high in iron, which reduces fatigue and supports normal functioning of heart and muscles.
  • Mushrooms are in season all year round and are high in pantothenic acid, which maintains normal mental performance and supports bone strength.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 320g spaghetti pasta
  • 200g boiled red lentils (or tinned, just rinse and drain them first)
  • 500g white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 200g cherry tomatoes (preferably fresh, if in season, but tinned plum tomatoes will work just as well)
  • 250ml tomato passata
  • A bunch of fresh basil leaves and 1 tsp dried sage (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and carrot then cook until softened. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper then cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the garlic, cherry tomatoes, passata, red lentils, dried sage and stir well
  3. Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
  4. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  5. Drain the spaghetti and add to the pan with the sauce.
  6. Serve with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy!

Author: Demetra Trif, BSc Human Biology and Nutrition Student – University of Glasgow


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