For years now, we’ve been told to eat our Five-a-Day. And whilst some scientists are urging us to eat a whopping ten portions, data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey shows less than a third of us manage to even make it to five, with the average being around 4 portions.
However, many portions of fruit and vegetables you are already eating it’s likely that there is room for improvement.
Luckily there are lots of little ways in which you can add extra veggies to your diet without even really noticing it.
Kale is a true superfood, containing vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, E and K, the minerals manganese, copper, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, plus fibre, omega-3 fats, protein and folate. Phew. Unfortunately, kale is also green and leafy, and most people would rather eat a banana than a bag of kale.
The sneaky trick is to blend some into a green smoothie. Throw a handful into a blender, with a banana, perhaps some cranberries and a good slosh of apple juice. The resulting concoction will have you coming back for seconds!
When it’s cold outside there’s very little nicer than a big bowl of comforting soup. Make it a vegetable soup and you can easily eat two or three portions of vegetables without even noticing. Soup is incredibly easy to make – sauté an onion, add some garlic, herbs, spices, throw in whatever vegetables you have to use up, add good quality stock (this is really important) then blend it all together when they’re soft. You can even buy gadgets these days specifically to cook lots of lovely homemade soup automatically.
Hide it in pasta
Who doesn’t love spaghetti bolognaise? Amazingly you can sneak vegetables into this dish in one of two ways.
The first is the really sneaky way – grate a carrot or other root vegetables into the sauce when you’re frying the onion and garlic. You can also try adding red peppers, mushrooms – even beetroot!
The second way is to replace the spaghetti with spiralised courgettes or butternut squash. If you have a spiraliser it’s easy to make your own courgettini or squashetti but they’re also readily available in the prepared food aisles of all the major supermarkets.
Replace the spuds
Sadly, although nutritious, potatoes are too starchy to count as a vegetable in the five a day world. So, another easy way to add more veg to your diet is to replace your potato portions with other vegetables. Try sweet potato wedges, roast squash or celeriac mash for a change and notch up another portion of veg.
Eat a rainbow
As well as eating enough vegetables you should also be aiming to eat a variety of different types. A simple way to remember is to think of “eating a rainbow”. Choose vegetables (and fruits!) by what colour they are to make your meals as colourful as possible since many nutrients are associated with specific vegetable shades.