Our previous post looked at the latest review study suggesting we eat up to 10 portions of veg and fruit per day for good health. This is quite a big ask for most of us, so the first step is to try and include 5 portions per day. If you are doing well with 5 a day, try and increase it a little further, can you reach 10 a day?
Back in February (2017), myself and a fellow student dietitian (Doireann Sheridan) organised a week of sharing foodie ideas to try and help you reach your 5-a-day over on our social media pages (Veggie Nut and NutriDee). We got some members of the public and some prominent social media dietitians to share their brilliant ideas too! Check out some of the ideas below.
Breakfast Ideas (or any other time of day!)
Try and have a portion of fruit or veg with breakfast – e.g. chopped banana, berries, a 150ml glass of fruit juice, mushrooms, tomatoes.
- Muesli (bran flakes, oats & raisins) with plain yoghurt, nuts and fruit such as ½ a banana, grated apple, grapes, frozen berries (which are cheaper than fresh!) and/or seeds.
- Oaty pancakes topped with cottage cheese and/or fruit e.g. banana, pineapple, berries and a sprinkle of cinnamon – yum! Recipe: Apple and Banana Oat Pancakes, Banana Oat Pancakes.
- Banana and peanut butter on wholemeal toast – a popular favourite!
- Spicy omelettes – 2 eggs, red onion, pepper, broccoli, jalapeños, milk and a teaspoon of garam masala, served with avocado for an extra portion of your 5-a-day.
Overnight Oats recipe: Ingredients: 100g yoghurt, 4-5 tbsps jumbo oats, 1-2 tbsp flaxseed, 1 tbps chia seed, 1-2 tbsps nuts (whole or crushed), 3-4 tbsps fruit (fresh or frozen berries work well). Method: Mix all the ingredients above in a jar/small bowl and cover with a lid. You can add milk instead of yoghurt, or even both! Place it in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or ideally overnight. Enjoy the next morning! You can add a splash of milk if it’s too thick and extra toppings (e.g. grated apple, sliced banana or nut butter), as desired.
Main Meals Tips
Always aim for at least 2 portions of veg with your meals.
“I always try and have veg or salad with every meal, even if they’re random combinations that I have left over in the fridge, e.g. grated carrots and tinned sweet corn, anything goes!” Louise Robertson RD.
It doesn’t always have to be fresh vegetables either, as Maeve Hanan RD points out, “I try to bulk out meals with vegetables (frozen vegetables are very quick and easy) to make meals more tasty, colourful and healthy.”
If you are in a rush, having a ready meal doesn’t mean you should miss out on extra veg. Here’s a fantastic top tip from Catherine Collins RD for including more veg! “Never have a ready meal without adding veg – whilst your microwave meal is cooling down, cook some frozen veg – in 5 minutes they’re ready to serve together.”
Try and make your plate look colouful!
Other tips include:
- Add a tin of beans, lentils and pulses to soups, curries and stews for a great way to add 1 of your 5-a-day and a protein hit to meals.
- Try scrambled tofu (made from soya beans) or pre-marinated tofu pieces in stir-fry for added protein too.
- Beans on toast can provide you with 1 of your 5-a-day – so simple
- Or you could try occasionally swapping rice or noodles for vegetable alternatives as Nichola Whitehead RD suggests, “I’m a huge fan of cauliflower or broccoli rice, as well as, butternut squash or courgettie noodles and sneaking in spinach in to smoothies and curries etc!”
- Baked eggs in a tomato and onion sauce with added red pepper and kidney beans, served with some crusty bread can make a filling dinner.
- Add tinned pulses to a roasting tray when bulk roasting vegetables in the oven and add them to different meals throughout the week.
- Roasted chickpeas and nuts as a snack
- Homemade hummus and guacamole with tortilla chips or vegetable sticks
- Peanut butter or chocolate covered frozen bananas – a great ice-cream alternative or even a post-workout snack.
- Apple and peanut butter as a snack
- Fruit compote with yoghurt and/or granola (my own recipe).
- Chunks of fruit e.g. pear, melon, oranges – usually fruit that is in season is the cheapest.
Ideas For Kids (Or Adults Who Need Some Extra Encouragement!)
- Changing the shapes of normal fruit and veg can add fun into meal times for children, Priya Tew RD agrees, “We like using the spiraliser to make carrots more interesting – kids adore them.”
- Blending or grating vegetables into sauces or soups
- Adding fresh or frozen fruit to smoothies
- Sliced banana on toast or avocado in sandwiches
- Grated broccoli (raw or cooked) sprinkled on wholemeal rice or couscous
- Mashed steamed sweet potato or other veggies and use as a filling with beans, grated cheese or tuna in sandwich toasties.
So I hope I have given you some more ideas to get going, let us know your favourite tips and recipes to get more veg and fruit in your diet!