I think we all know by now that we should be eating our five-a-day and trying to up that to seven-a-day.
How on earth do we fit all that fruit and veg into our day though?
The NHS has been encouraging us for years and has some fantastic tips on their website
I know that when I don’t make the effort I can easily go a whole day having eaten very little of my required healthy portions.
I also know that when I do make the effort, and am mindful of it, that I find it very easy to hit my five-a-day and often manage closer to 10-a-day!
So what am I doing on those “mindful” days to hit my fruit and veg targets?
I rarely eat an actual piece of fruit but can still often hit my five-a-day by lunchtime on fruit alone…
I try to have a glass of freshly squeezed juice each day. The juice boxes you can buy at the supermarket tend to be made from concentrate, which is heavily processed and not great for nutrients. Raw juices are much healthier but tend to be really expensive. Lots of people swear by their juicers, which are machines specifically made to extract juice – but I have neither the space nor the money for one of these. Out comes my trusty old citrus juicer – you know the thing at the back of one of your drawers!
I find pure fruit juice a little strong, so I pour it into a glass and top it up with water. This is my drink of choice when doing my daily stretches first thing in the morning, which helps put me on-track to be mindful for the rest of the day about hitting my fruit and veg target!
Ditch the smoothie
After my daily stretches is when I sit down to read the news and check my emails. It is also when I routinely drink my daily smoothie. Well actually, I have ditched the smoothies and now go for a suco. This is a Brazilian drink, which is essentially the same as a smoothie but the dairy is left out and replaced with water, which makes it much lower in calories. Before my workout I grab a handful of frozen fruit and chuck it in the blender with a glass of water and some fresh mint. Some people like to add leafy greens, like kale or lettuce, but I just don’t like the taste. I give them a quick blitz to break down a little and then leave them to defrost slightly while I work out. Then all I need to do is give them another quick blitz and pour. They have defrosted enough to still chill the drink but not leave big chunks of frozen fruit.
In the past I might have popped into a shop for a fruit salad but Joanna Blythman has put me right off that in a recent article, which exposed the chemicals that prep-prepped fruit and veg is dipped in to keep it looking “fresh”!
Did you know that dried fruit counts in your 5-a-day though?
If I know I am going to be out all day, I now try to always carry my little snack box. Its happy smile makes me smile too!
I pop in a tablespoon of sultanas and a couple of medjool dates, as these are my favourite dried fruits. I always add two brazil nuts, as these are high in Selenium which is depleted in British soils. I also like to throw in a few different seeds depending on what I have in my store cupboard – usually some sunflower seeds and some pumpkin seeds.
Fruit is high in sugars, albeit natural sugars, so vegetables are an essential part of your 5-a-day. My husband has type II diabetes, so I try to help him hit his five-a-day using vegetables rather than fruit…
Traditional British – meat and two veg
Mr Vohn is a traditional kind of eater and the traditional British dish of meat and two veg can be perfect here. That’s two veg points easily ticked off! Do remember that no, potatoes do not count – unless of course you make my Champion Champ, where you can get one veg point for the spring onion!
Serve your meat with an onion gravy and there is another point for the onions. Of course it is only a whole point if you add a portion of onions per person – any less and you need to share your points!
Sneaking extra veg
Sneaking extra veg into meals, so your family don’t immediately notice, is where food bloggers can really help you out! Helen of Fuss Free Flavours hosts a monthly challenge for food bloggers to come up with recipes where they have included an extra portion of veg compared to the usual recipe!
Kate from Veggie Desserts has won a whole host of accolades for her innovative dessert blog, where every recipe includes a vegetable! I love Kate’s blog tagline “From the Garden to the Cake Stand”!
Another great way to sneak in extra veg is by using a spiralizer. I have wanted one of these for ages and is actually why I’ve agreed to write this sponsored post! I am going to be sent a Hemsley + Hemsley spiralizer in return for mentioning Legal & General’s new life insurance calculator. Life insurance is a great way to help protect your family financially, should the worst happen. Of course, mindful and healthy eating can help protect you from the worst happening in the first place! I can’t wait to use my spiralizer to try making courgette spaghetti!
Fermented veg is a hot topic this year, as it boosts a healthy gut. My favourite fermented veg is a simple sauerkraut, which I learned how to make in a great workshop led by fermenting-
obsessive-expert Annie of the blog Kitchen Counter Culture.
I also find this resets my palate to liking more sour flavours, rather than sweet, which makes it easier for me to stick to a healthy diet. I tend have some sort of veg fermenting in my kitchen these days – it takes about ten minutes work and I am rewarded with lots of jars of healthy yumminess!
Beans, lentils and pulses
I recently had a bit of an epiphany when I realised that pulses are included in our 5-a-day. Of course they are – beans, lentils etc are essentially the dried seeds from vegetable plants! I don’t know why this had never really occurred to me before! Now, on days when I realise we have all missed out badly on hitting our target, I’ll make a big pot of lentil soup or spicy bean stew.
These foods also form the base of the many vegan meals I now make. I accidentally discovered how tasty vegan food can be when I made up a recipe for Creamy, Crunchy Bean and Avocado Salad last year – it was only when I was writing it up that I realised it was vegan.
I now try to make at least one of our evening meals per week vegan. If I’d told my husband I was going to do this, he would have baulked at the idea. However I started by making lots of spicy Indian dishes, served with flatbreads, which he loves – he raved about our dinner without even noticing it was vegan!
So, tell me dear reader, how do you get on with hitting that 5-a-day target
and will you try anything new after reading this?
P.S. This is a sponsored post and, in return for writing it, I will receive a Hemsley + Hemsley Spiralizer. As always, the entire post is my own writing and all views and opinions are my own.