5 ways to get your 5 a day

May 2016 | Body |

Did you get your five-a-day today? I didn’t,due to a poorly planned trip downtown. And I knew that would be the case when I had only consumed one portion by two o’clock. You see, I have come to learn that if I don’t eat at least half – and preferably two thirds – of the recommended five a day by lunch time, I just won’t get there.

So in order to ensure I eat enough of the green stuff, I have set myself a daily goal of having something fresh at every single meal throughout the day. It seems obvious, but for someone who used to love her bread and butter (and I don’t mean that in any figurative way …) it meant a change in how I view my meals and also in the way I shop. My grocey basket has certainly become much more colorful and cheerful since deciding to add fruit, berries or vegetables at every meal.

Berries or banana for breakfast

Add berries for a fresh start to the day.

Get your day going by adding fresh berries or sliced banana to your cereal, oatmeal or overnight porridge. You will benefit from the vitamin C in the berries, which will help your body make better use of the iron in your oats or cereal. And as an added benefit, it will allow you to cut right back on any refined sugar that you would normally add.

This has been a game changer for me. For as long as I can remember I have started my day by having a bowl of rolled oats with milk and a spoonful – or four – of sugar. I would start of with a couple of teaspoons of sugar and then slowly, slowly the amount would increase until I got so ashamed I cut right back. And then the process started all over again … But after I started adding fresh fruit or berries to my breakfast, I no longer have the urge to add the refined sugar in such insane quantaties. I usually settle for half a teaspoon.

Not into oats and cereal? 

– Keep it simple, yet fresh, with a fruit salad and yoghurt.
– Make a frittata with sliced onions and peppers.
– Finely grate a couple of carrots and mixed them in the pancake batter.
– Prefer a full English breakfast? Fry up extra tomatos and swap some of the meat with fried up sliced onions and peppers.

Drink it down!

Green smoothie

Green smoothies became all the rage a few years ago, and for a good reason: it’s a brilliant way of getting your veggies. You see, the 5-a-day recommendation is actually a 3+2-a-day, meaning that at least three of the five portions should be vegetables. I like to make a veggie based smoothie in the late morning. This allows me to have a later lunch, which make the stretch from lunch to dinner more manageable.

If you haven’t made green smoothies before (actually, I don’t care what color you make it, I happily stick carrots and other non-green vegetables in there), then I would recommend that you try the 2+2+3 recipe from SimpleGreenSmoothies. It’s as simple as this: 2 measures of liquid (water) + 2 measures of vegetables + 3 measures of fruit or berries. It is simple to remember and makes for tasty smoothies. Later on you can experiment with the ratios. I tend to do a 2+2+2 these days as I prefer to up my veggie intake.

Can’t stomach vegetable smoothies?

– Have a glass of tomato juice instead.
– Have snackable portions of vegetables easily accessible in the fridge: carrot sticks, cauliflower florets, sugar snaps etc.

Have a salad for lunch

Mixed salad as part of the five-a-day.

One of the best ways of making sure you get enough vegetables is to have a salad for lunch. If you have a busy schedule, you can premake salads for the week in mason jars. But try to get creative about it too so you don’t get bored. You can have a nice, big salad with plenty of tasty and crunch garnish as your main meal. Or you can make a side salad to go with your quiche. Or try a cous cous or lentils based salad. You can even make a salad sandwich: spread a thin layer of mayo on the bottom slice, and add lettuce, sliced tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, and spring onions before adding a slice of bread on top. Add a couple of slices of cheese, egg or chicken for some extra protein to keep you going longer.

Sick of salads? Try this instead:

– Make a vegetable tart you can have for lunch throughout the week.

Guess what? If you had followed these three tips, you would have covered four out of your five-a-day by the end of lunch time. Not bad!

Dish it up for dinner!

Roasted peppers, onions and courgettes.

If you have skipped on any of your portions earlier in the day, now is the time to make up for it. Cram as many vegetables in as you can. As a general rule you want as much color as possible. Avoide beige dinners at all cost.

Swap out the potato (it doesn’t count towards the five-a-day anyway) for roasted vegetables as your go-to side dish. You can easily prep them in advance on a Sunday afternoon if you’re short of time. Or reduce (or even remove) the amount of ground meat you use by adding extra vegetables in the dish. This can easily be done in meals such as lasagna, taco, enchillada, chilies and so on. And then, of course, you have all the glorious vegetable based meals you can make: creamy vegetable soups; various vegetable packed stir frys; gratinated cauliflower or broccoli; spinach pie and so on.

Need more inspiration?

– Use carrots instead of potatos when making hash browns.
– Try stuffed peppers (and make sure you add some extra vegetables in the stuffing too).

Make a dessert of it

fruit sorbet as part of your five-a-day

This is my favorite way of making sure I get my five-a-day! If you are anything like me, you might feel a little peckish at the end of the day. Fruit and berries make a perfect snack, of course, but (unfortunately) I rarely get tempted to put my teeth into an apple when sat in front of the TV. But turn those same fruit and berries into a dessert, and hey, I am game!

Make a simpel fruit salad or fruit skewers for the weekdays; prepare a refreshing sorbet for the summer weekends. Get creative and make a strawberry tart. Or keep it low key: put a handful of berries, a banana, and maybe some yoghurt in the blender and enjoy a thick smoothie to be eaten with a spoon.

Got a sweet tooth?

– Try baked pear with honey or an After Eight on top
– Make a Pavlova, and don’t skimp on the berries.

Overwhelmed? Here’s the simple digest:

Make sure you have a little fruit, berries or vegetables with every meal, and you will be OK.

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