Struggling to get your five-a-day? Here’s how to eat more fruit and veg, without even realising…
How much fruit and veg have you had today? It’s likely that your answer is “not enough” – and if it is, you’re not alone, as just 28 percent of adults are eating the recommended five portions per day, and with only 18 percent of children aged five to 15 meeting the government’s guideline*, it’s clearly time to take a closer look at what’s on our plates. However, we know that trying to get your family to eat more healthily can be a challenge, especially when you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time to cook, or if you’re dealing with particularly picky eaters. That’s why we’ve rounded up some simple tips to help you increase your intake of healthy food – without the hassle. From easy breakfast ideas to healthy smoothies bursting with fruit, there is something for every family member to enjoy.
On the right track
Breakfast doesn’t have to mean a bowl of cornflakes or a piece of toast. There are lots of options for your AM meal that can help you ramp up your fruit and veg intake from the beginning of the day. Why not have an omelette that’s packed with vegetables? The great thing about this dish is that you can throw in any veg you’ve got in your fridge, so it’s an easy way to use up things that may have gone to waste otherwise – all you need to do is lightly cook the vegetables before you add them to the pan. Not sure you’ve got the time to cook in the mornings? No problem – you can prepare overnight oats the night before and wake up to a delicious, filling breakfast. Simply mix oats with milk, plus your favourite flavours (we love to add a spoonful of honey to ours) and put it in the fridge until morning. Our top tip is to add frozen fruit, such as strawberries and berries, to the mix – they’ll defrost overnight, and they’re something you can easily store in your freezer without worrying about the short best before dates that fresh fruit has. Turn to page 45 for more healthy breakfast options.
Shake it up
Want a quick and easy way to get some more fruit and veg into your day that your kids will love? Start making smoothies! Pre-made ones from supermarkets can be packed with sugar, so creating your own will be healthier – plus, you have the fun of playing around with different flavours to find your favourite combination. First, pick your base. This can be anything from water to almond milk, so try a few to see what works best for you. Then, choose which fruit and veg you’d like – some ideas include bananas, spinach, berries, mangoes, avocados and oranges. You can add Greek yoghurt or nut butter for some extra protein, and then something to sweeten it, such as vanilla essence or honey. Blitz it all up and it’s ready to go! To make things even easier, you can buy pre-sliced frozen fruit and veg at supermarkets to really speed up the process.
Switch up your snacks
Swapping a bag of crisps for some crudités, such as carrots, cucumbers and peppers with hummus is a simple way to pack in some more veg to your day. Prepare enough for a few days so that you can quickly grab them from the fridge when you feel hungry. If you’re not a fan of hummus, you could cut up an apple and dip it in peanut butter for a protein hit. However, if a packet of crisps is what you or your kids are craving, you could make your own vegetable crisps by simply thinly slicing vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, parsnips and carrots, cook them in the oven and then season them – try sea salt, black pepper or chilli flakes. They’re sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters!
You may have heard of courgetti – spiralised courgettes that take the place of pasta in meals and a great way to get another portion of veg into your day. However, this may not be substantial enough for you and your family, so you could try replacing half of the amount of spaghetti you would normally use with courgetti. Feeling inspired? There are similar things you can do with other vegetables – consider replacing noodles with butternut squash noodles (or boodles – you can buy these ready made so you don’t have to worry about the faff of cutting up a butternut squash), top salads with spiralised carrots and create healthier, kid-friendly curly fries with spiralised sweet potatoes.
If you’re dealing with some really picky eaters, you can get creative (and sneaky) with hiding veg in meals, without sacrificing flavour. Add cauliflower to mashed potato, slice vegetables and include them in mac ‘n’ cheese, bulk out mince meat with chopped carrots in dishes such as chilli con carne and homemade burgers, mix veg into tomato-based pasta sauces and include things like tomato, spinach and avocado in toasted sandwiches.
Sneak extra veg into soups, grate cauliflower as a substitute for rice, and use sliced courgettes or aubergine as a ‘pizza’ base.
Leave room for dessert
You can sneak fruit and vegetables into puddings, too – yep, you read that right! One thing you can try is baking veg into cakes (beyond carrot cake) – you can find lots of recipes online, from courgette loaf cake and orange and parsnip cake, to beetroot brownies and rhubarb muffins. Satisfy your kids cravings this summer with healthy fruit ice lollies – again, there are lots of recipes you can find online, or experiment with your own flavours – or banana ‘ice cream’, which involves blending frozen bananas with anything from cocoa powder to nut butter. Finally, you can make a quick and easy chocolate mousse using blended avocado as the base – perfect!
Life on the veg
Get some more fruit and veg into your day with these top products
Lizi’s Super Muesli
The new delicious Super Muesli range from Lizi’s is designed to give your morning a boost. Available in four varieties – Boost, Focus, Glow and Cleanse, each one is packed full of fruit, added vitamins and minerals and natural ingredients. £4, available at Waitrose.
Gosh! Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites
For a summer snack, look no further than this mouthsized bite from Gosh!, packed full of healthy ingredients that will have the whole family asking for more. These Sweetcorn & Quinoa Bites have all the goodness you need and all the flavour you could want. £2.50, available in Morrisons.
Nims Pineapple and Kiwi Edible Teas
These loose tea infusions use only fresh fruit and veg that has been air-dried to preserve its natural flavour. Simply infuse in hot water for five to 10 minutes, and once the tea has been enjoyed, you can then eat the deliciously rehydrated fruit and veg. £5, nimsfruitcrisps.com