Back in February, findings in new research led by scientists from Imperial College found that although the recommended 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day reduced disease risk, the greatest benefit came from eating 800g a day - roughly equivalent to 10 portions!
They estimated that approximately 7.8 million deaths could be prevented EVERY YEAR by eating more of the good crunchy, fresh stuff. The antioxidants and free radical munching plant goodness is thought to be the main reason it supports health. The research even pin points which fruit and veg provided the greatest protection against disease.
So how do we cram our 10 a day into our busy lives and daily diet?
Cook once, eat twice (or thrice!)
I love this! Whenever you’re cooking something up - double up (or more) on the recipe so that you have plenty of left overs you can either enjoy the next day or stash in the freezer. Perfect for when you have no time to cook but still want a wholesome healthy meal packed with veggie goodness.
Drink your greens
Smoothies are a great way of cramming in extra veg and kids love them. I love smoothies because you’re not juicing away the fibre and you can super charge them up with oats, nuts and seeds to make them more nutritionally complex. You can easily tick off 4 of your 10 a day in one drink before you and the kids are even out of the door - just go easy on the fruit. Spinach and cauliflower are some of my favourite veggies to add to a smoothie. Check out my Recipe page for more smoothie inspiration.
Boost veggie content
Add more veg into your usual meals. Enjoy a spag bol? Add in some extra carrots, peppers and courgettes to the dish. Having some pasta? Add extra veg into your sauce or serve your pasta and sauce with a salad or some crudites.It's a great way of adding extra texture and flavour to your usual meals with minimal effort.
Keep a stash of carrot, cucumber, peppers and celery sticks on hand in the fridge for snacks - delicious dipped into hummus or peanut butter and they have a satisfying crunch! It’s amazing what gets eaten by adults and kids alike if it's readily available.
Keep a stash of frozen berries in your freezer. They’re cheaper than fresh and it means you always have some antioxidant rich berries on hand to add to a bowl of yoghurt or to top your morning porridge. Likewise, I love to keep some frozen veg on hand to add to smoothies (I love spinach and cauliflower) and to boost the veg count of meals when the fridge stock is running low.
Get yourself onto these tips and you’ll see how easy it is to get your 10 a day. But don’t beat yourself up if you don't get there every day - no-ones perfect -we're just doing the best we can.