Many of us struggle to get the five a day that we had previously been told to consume so how on earth are we going to increase our intake to ten a day? It may sound very difficult but we have some tips for you that may make it all easier.
A glass of unsweetened fruit juice (150ml) with your breakfast can count as one of your portions but the vitamin C in it will also help you absorb iron. Do try and buy a good quality 100% fruit juice though.
This is the most important meal of the day so this is the one to really try and pack with fruit and veg. To do this you can add fresh fruit to your cereal. Put a chopped banana and 80g of blueberries into a bowl of porridge and that’s two portions. Remember that 1 banana, 2 hand falls of berries, 3 dried apricots are equals to one portion. If you don’t like cereal then have toast with mashed banana or avocado, it will still taste sweet but much better for you than sweet jams.
Another idea for breakfast is to add fruit to plain yoghurt, it will just taste like fruit yoghurt but with much less sugar in it. If you like a cooked breakfast then put spring onions into your scrambled eggs and add mushrooms and tomatoes and you could have 2/3 portions there.
Rather than eating a lot of snacks which may seem very healthy but actually contain a lot of sugar-like commercial made oat/granola bars it is better to eat raw vegetable with dips like hummus. Peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas, celery taste delicious raw with hummus or guacamole. Homemade vegetable soup for example is also a very good option.
Traditional dinner options like spag bol and cottage pie could have vegetables added to them. The overall taste will only be enhanced and you can add this to your daily veg portion. Veg like carrots, peppers, courgettes and spinach can do the trick. Another tip is to substitute in red or brown lentils for part of the minced beef or lamb in a dish. Beans and pulses also count as a veg portion so again adding these will help.
It is important to note that potatoes don’t count as a portion of veg but sweet potatoes, squash and celeriac do count. So why not roast these instead in place of potato?
Get cooking from fresh is the message. If time is tight then set aside some time once a month and cook up big portions of things like bolognaise and chilli to then freeze. Veg can then be added in when you defrost and eat. Likewise don’t buy readymade desserts. Instead try yoghurt and fruit or stewed fruit instead.
You can’t eat 10 bananas a day or simply drink a huge amount of fruit juice to have your 10 portions. This is because each veg and fruit gives you different minerals and nutrients so you need to eat a wide choice to get the full range.
Baked beans do count! Three heaped tablespoons of these are equal to one portion so can be added to a meal. Tomato puree is another one that often surprises people, two heaped tablespoons are equal to one portion. 30g of dried fruit is one portion, pickled veg like gherkins count. If you are concerned that buying all this fresh fruit will add to your food bill remember that frozen and canned fruit and veg does count. So do look outside the traditional fruit and veg you have in mind as this gives you more ways in which to rack up the magical 10.
We’ve already mentioned potatoes but whether you boil, fry or roast them they don’t count! Fruit yoghurts don’t contain enough fruit, fruit bread also doesn’t contain enough fruit, and jam doesn’t count, nor does wine! Peanut butter also doesn’t count as whilst many of the nut butters are really good for you nuts are not considered a fruit or veg.