Five a day - realistic or ridiculous?
We’re constantly urged to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day in order to get the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre we need. Although it’s not easy it can be done if you keep it to the front of your mind.
The trick is to try and incorporate some kind of fruit or veg in every meal - for example, a glass of fruit juice with breakfast, a tomato in your lunchtime sarnie, an apple or banana as an afternoon snack, a mushroom omelette and salad for your evening meal and you’re there.
What counts as a portion isn’t so dauntingly huge. If you look up the 5aday website you’ll see that it includes a couple of plums, a slice of melon or pineapple, a small salad or three heaped tablespoons of any fresh, tinned or frozen vegetable (that’s about six mouthfuls). Pulses like beans or lentils count too though only once a day. The important thing is to vary them. It wouldn’t be clever to have 5 daily helpings of cucumber for instance.
Some fruit and veg are especially good for us - green leafy vegetables like broccoli (an important source of beta-carotene, folate and vitamin C) and kiwi fruit and strawberries (both also high in vitamin C).
If you're on a budget take advantage of fruit and veg when they're in season. Salad vegetables like tomatoes and peppers for instance tend to be cheap in summer from July to September but expensive in mid-winter but you can always turn to winter salads made from veg like carrots, celery and citrus fruit instead.
Soups and veggie-based stews and curries are a great way to boost your intake as are raw vegetable snacks like carrot, cucumber and pepper sticks dunked in hummus. And if you have a nibble of cheese always try to have a piece of fruit like an apple or a pear with it.
Cheap fruit is often on offer at the end of the day or just after the weekend and can be easily be cooked up into a compote which will last you several days. If you serve it with a low fat dairy product like fromage frais or yoghurt it makes it more of a treat and boosts your calcium intake too!