It can be a challenge to eat seven portions of fruit and veg each day even when you like vegetables. And now a new report suggests that eating 10 portions is what we need to stay healthy for longer. Most people don’t come nearly close to having enough, and I bet you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to manage that.
Read on for tips on getting more of the good stuff into your life in a super-easy way.
What constitutes a portion?
A portion means 80g (3oz) of fruit or veg - the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas.
Veg linked to lower cancer risk
Green veg (eg spinach, kale, broccoli)
Yellow/ orange veg (eg peppers, butternut squash)
Cruciferous vegetables (eg cauliflower, broccoli)
Veg linked to lower risk of heart disease and stroke
Green leafy vegetables (eg Romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, rocket)
Cruciferous veg (eg cauliflower, broccoli)
1) Make a frittata
Perfect for a simple lunch or a lazy weekend brunch, whisk up eggs with veggies like onions, mushrooms and peppers – or anything else you have in the fridge. If you can make this a large, deep, Spanish-style omelette, it will even last you into the week.
2) Make friends with cauliflower rice
Cauli rice has a bit of a cult thing of late. You can buy it ready-made in practically any supermarket, but it is also very easy to whizz up yourself in a food processor. Simply chop into florets and pulse until the cauliflower is a fine, rice-like consistency. Perfect whenever you might have rice or as a veggie side dish. There are many different ways to cook it. Click this link for a low-down on how to cook yours https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/whats-best-way-cook-cauliflower-rice.
3) Do the same with broccoli
Broccoli rice is the lesser-known brother of cauliflower rice. You prepare it in the exact same way – pulse into rice-sized pieces. You can cook it in a similar fashion, too, but it is good lightly fried with a little coconut oil. Whether cauliflower or broccoli rice, you can add the cooked version to scrambled eggs for (at least) an entire serving of your veg quota.
4) Pimp up your porridge
You might be used to a sweet porridge but a savoury version can be surprisingly good. Try cooking plain oats with water then adding sautéed veg or else grated courgette. Top with a poached egg for a protein hit and maybe a grating of parmesan, then season to taste.
5) Add pumpkin to pancakes or waffles
Waffles and pancakes don’t have to be naughty to be nice. Add some pureed pumpkin to your traditional mix or try this recipe for waffles: combine 120g buckwheat flour with 1 tbsp baking powder, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp ginger, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp cinnamon. Whisk in half a tin of pureed pumpkin (in the global foods section of most supermarkets), 1tsp vanilla extract, 2tbsp flaxseeds, 2tbsp maple syrup, and 240ml milk of your choice. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Heat up the waffle iron or get the skillet on the hob to heat up. Coat the pan or iron with coconut oil, tip in the mix and cook until it bubbles (skillet only) before flipping onto the other side. Perfect served with mashed avocado, smoked salmon and a poached egg.
6) Sneak into family favourites
Pasta bakes are the perfect place to hide your vegetables. The ideal partners to throw into the mix are spinach, tomatoes, peas and broccoli but almost anything will do.
7) Have a breakfast smoothie
There are so, so many different ways to get fruit and vegetables into a delicious smoothie. Here are a couple great ideas.
Chai smoothie (serves 2)
450g spinach (or 1 and 1 of spinach and kale), 475ml almond milk, thumb-sized piece of ginger, 2 pears (cored), 1 banana, 1tsp cardamom, 1tsp cinnamon
225g cherries (buy frozen – cheaper and they come pitted)
8) Don’t forget your herbs
These count as vegetables, too, and are easily incorporated into practically any dish, from soups and stews to scrambled eggs.
9) Experiment with courgetti and boodles
You can get courgetti and boodles (butternut squash noodles) from most supermarkets or make your own with a spiralizer. Blanch for a minute or two then serve with Bolognese or Thai curries – or your own choice of meal.
10) Upgrade your potato options
Sweet potatoes have a far greater nutritional value than standard white potatoes. If switching to sweet potato mash is initially too much of a stretch, consider mixing the two to start.
11) Swap wraps for lettuce
It might not cut it with children, but lettuce makes a surprisingly good stand-in for tortilla wraps when you’re serving up fajitas. As you get more adventurous, you can also use tougher greens like kale or chard, but you’ll want to blanch and pat dry before you wrap.
12) Sneaky additions
Casseroles, Bolognese sauce or chilli is the ideal place to smuggle in added veg. Vegetable dodgers will barely notice if you grate carrot or courgette, or finely mince mushrooms (which have a surprisingly meaty texture). The texture is barely changed.
13) Serve vegie tomato sauce
Making your own tomato sauce is far healthier than shop-bough varieties. Grate in carrot and finely chop peppers then add to pasata or tinned tomatoes with fresh herbs like basil or oregano and whiz when done. Roasted butternut squash will also do the trick. No one will ever know the difference.
14) Try avocado and baked egg
Did you try this already? You won’t believe how good it tastes. Heat the oven to 220˚C. Halve an avocado and remove the stone to create a pit for the egg. Put the avocado in a small ceramic baking dish or baking tray. Crack the egg into the hole, sprinkle with paprika then bake for 15-20 minutes. Season and serve.
15) Dish up veggie fries
Sometimes you need something resembling a chip. Check out this link for some amazingly easy and delicious ways to serve veggies you will never have thought of before https://www.buzzfeed.com/mercedessandoval/these-veggie-fries-are-the-best-new-years-resolutions.
16) Try kale crisps
You might have tasted the kind you get in bags from some supermarkets. Here’s a recipe you will make time and time again. Preheat the oven to 150˚C. Blend 75g cashew nuts, 1 shallot (chopped) , 2tbsp nutritional yeast flakes, ½ tsp garlic salt, 4 soft large dates (chopped), 2tbsp lemon juice, 2tbsp water, 2tbsp apple cider vinegar together until you create a thick paste. Add a little more water if you need to. Put a 250g bag of kale in a bowl, add the sauce and massage together with your hands. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes. Turn the kale over and bake for a further 5 minutes. Cool. The crisps will keep for 3 days in an airtight container.
17) Rethink pizza
Not tried cauliflower pizza? You might like it so give it a whirl sometime soon. Here’s a recipe from the Hemsley sisters http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/flower_power_pizza_13681. Another great veg idea for the humble pizza is to spread a layer of pureed spinach on the dough before adding your tomato sauce. Sneaky, right?
18) Bake them in bread
Veggies are marvelous when used in baking. Courgettes in particular seem to do the job above others. Try this brilliant recipe. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/04/how-to-make-courgette-cake.
19) Put avocado in your pudding
A brilliant dinner party treat is an avocado chocolate pudding. I guarantee guests will want to make this at home themselves. https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/chocolate-and-avocado-mousse.html.
20) Don’t forget the snacks
Good old veg make for brilliant snacks. Come on in. Baby carrots, radishes and sugar snap peas don’t even need any chopping.
21) Squeeze in an extra portion where you can
If you’ve been trained to think of dinner as protein, starch and one veg, challenge yourself to improve your life with the addition of one additional vegetable. Whatever you are making, think ‘how can I add another vegetable to this?’
22) Bring in berries
Berries of any kind are choc-full of inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Add them to granola, muesli or porridge along with a sprinkle of flax for a nutrition boost.
23) Carry handbag snacks
Apples, pears and satsumas are perfect travelling companions, and teamed with a small handful of nuts, make the perfect blood sugar-balancing snack.
24) Combine fruit and veg in a juice
A green juice is the perfect way to start the day as you mean to go on. This one will get you off the blocks with a good few servings of your 10 a day http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/a-green-juice-for-weight-loss/.
25) Make fruity lollies
When the summer starts to peep through the clouds. I love these healthy ice lollies made with berries and coconut milk, courtesy of The Medicinal Chef http://www.thesimplethings.com/blog/2014/08/05/recipe-berry-coconut-ice-lollies.
Yours in Health