Saturday, November 13, 2010

20 Ways to Get Your Five Portions of Fruit and Vegetables a Day

The government and many health organisations recommend that you eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day for optimum health. Fruit and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are essential for keeping your body fit and well.

However, the average adult in the UK consumes just 2.8 portions, half of the recommended amount, because many people find it a challenge to incorporate that much fresh produce in their diet. Here's 20 ways to help you reach your five a day.

1. Add some fruit to your breakfast cereal, muesli or porridge. Try a sliced banana or apple or a handful of berries.

2. Start the day with a smoothie - they're an easy way to get a couple of your portions in a delicious tasting drink.

3. Have a glass of fruit juice at breakfast, but remember no matter how much you drink it only counts as one portion.

4. Snack on a piece of fruit instead of chocolate. You'll still satisfy your sweet tooth plus the carbohydrates will give you an energy boost.

5. Cut up some crunchy vegetable such as carrots and celery into sticks and keep in the fridge to munch on when you feel hungry.

6. Baked beans on toast count towards one of your portions. Choose wholemeal toast instead of white for a healthier option.

7. Add vegetables to sandwiches - try sliced tomatoes, cucumber, pickled beetroot or crisp iceberg lettuce.

8. Dried fruit such as raisins, currants, apricots or prunes make a healthy, tasty snack.

9. Add fruit and vegetables to homemade casseroles and stews, chilis, tagines and pasta sauces.

10. It's easy to get two or three of your portions in a stir fry - the quick cooking means you'll keep most of the nutrients in.

11. Serve a side salad with your main meal. Use a mixture of seasonal vegetables for variety but go easy on fatty dressings.

12. Homemade soups can be made in batches and frozen, then defrosted as you need them. Tinned and cartoned vegetable soups count as well.

13. Vegetable kebabs and corn on the cob make great additions to a barbecue. Try barbecuing mushrooms, peppers and onions too.

14. Children love small pieces of fruit such as grapes, cherries or satsuma segments. Pack some in their lunch instead of crisps or sweets.

15. Choose healthy pizza toppings like tomato, pepper, onion, pineapple, sweetcorn and mushrooms.

16. Add some vegetable dishes to your takeaway order. Try sag aloo with an Indian or steamed pak choi with a Chinese.

17. Bake some banana bread or make a delicious carrot cake for a healthy tea time treat.

18. A fruit salad is a simple and refreshing pudding. Use seasonal fruits and serve with low-fat yoghurt or creme fraiche.

19. Add fruit to packet jellies but be careful which ones you use as the enzymes in some fruits such as pineapple will prevent your jelly from setting.

20. Feel less guilty about the meringue and cream concoction by piling plenty of fresh fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, kiwi and passion fruit onto a pavlova.

Follow these tips then you'll soon be eating your five a day and be feeling the health benefits too.

To save money and have the freshest produce you might want to try growing vegetables in your garden or on an allotment.

This article was written by the owner of Digging For Dinner.

The author is a keen gardener and cook.

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