10 ways to get your 5-a-day

20 April 2017 by
First published: 30 August 2016

Being healthy is not as hard as you think, with these 10 ways to get your 5-a-day. As according to recent research, two-thirds of Brits don’t eat their 5-a-day. However, for some time now, nutritionists and food experts have labelled the rule outdated, claiming five pieces of fruit and veg should be seen as the minimum, not the optimum recommended daily intake. So how much is enough? ‘People don’t generally seem to have a problem eating fruit and the 5-a-day concept is confusing – with some thinking that the message translates into five portions of fruit per day,’ explains Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at superfooduk.com ‘Fruit, while nutritionally good for us, does still contain natural sugar (fructose) so the ratio should be one portion of fruit to four portions of vegetables. If you eat more than five portions of vegetables in one day, do not exceed more than one or two portions of fruit.’

So with more veggies on the cards, we asked our nutritionists to share their favourite hacks on how to sneak more of the green stuff into our diet. Read on to discover 10 ways to get your five-a-day…

Give your meal a plus one

‘With your evening meal you can have a serving of steamed vegetables as well as a raw salad,’ says Shona. ‘This is also great if you are trying to cut down on starchy carbohydrates with your evening meal. Be inventive with salads – don’t just stick to lettuce and tomatoes. Add small chopped pieces of broccoli, green beans, sugar snap peas, carrots, and beetroot alongside different leaves.’ Sound a little bland? ‘Add a dressing before serving,’ suggests Shona.

Blend it baby!

‘Soups are a fantastic way of using any odds and ends of vegetables in the fridge, especially those that are starting to look a bit limp and sad!’ says nutritionist Cassandra Barns. ‘Gently steam all vegetables, add lots of garlic, onions and herbs such as rosemary, caraway and thyme. Then blend in a food mixer or liquidiser. Serve hot or cold!’

Have a smart smoothie

‘Blend a glass of water with some apple or berries, spinach leaves, a little fennel, cucumber, celery and rocket,’ suggests Cassandra. ‘There is the option of an avocado too, to make it creamier, or add a small grating of ginger to warm it up! You can also add spirulina, chlorella, or Irish Moss powder to the juice to increase a dose of extra minerals, B vitamins and enzymes to the juice, such as Natures Plus Ultra Juice Green Powder,’ she recommends.

Roasted and ready

‘Roasted vegetables are quick and easy to make. Cover in coconut oil, rosemary, thyme, and a little salt and cook in the oven till golden brown and a little crispy,’ says Shona. ‘You can drizzle on a little more olive oil before serving. Have a go with roast peppers, asparagus, mushrooms, fennel, carrots, beetroot, pumpkin, butternut squash, large tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, and don’t forget that onion and garlic are vegetables too. They have a soft sweet taste once roasted and add flavour to any plate!’

Omelettes overboard!

‘Put as many chopped vegetables in as you please (avoid potatoes) for a colourful, easy dish,’ advises Shona. ‘Think: peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, onions and mushrooms. Omelettes are also great to eat cold the next day for on-the-go lunch.’

Wrap it up

‘Instead of bread, use large lettuce leaves to wrap around fish, meat or other fillings (e.g lentils, beans, lamb mince),’ explains Cassandra. ‘You can also fill chicory leaves with a vegetables filling or prawn mayonnaise.’

It’s all about preparation

‘Make crudities the evening before to take to work the next day – such as sugar snap peas, carrots, peppers (red, green, yellow), celery, cucumber and courgette,’ advises Shona. ‘A healthy snack to dip into cottage cheese, nut butters (e.g almond, cashew and hazelnut) guacamole or hummus!’

Swap your carbs for veg

‘Instead of classic wraps use crisp gem lettuce leaves, try a spiraliser to make courgetti and ditch white rice – it’s all about cauliflower rice,’ suggests Shona.

Show me the veg!

‘Just like you keep sweets out of sight to discourage never-ending snacking, keeping veggies in sight will help you think of them as an option for eating,’ explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, a leading nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar. ‘Fill a fruit and veg bowl at work and keep a bowl on the kitchen counter at home, so you’ll be more likely to snack on carrot and celery sticks.’

Homemade crisps

‘If you’ve got a weakness for the nation’s favourite snack, crisps, you can swap them for homemade vegetable crisps,’ says Cassandra. ‘Simply slice parsnip, carrots and beetroots into long pieces and layer them on baking trays. Sprinkle with salt, chilli or pepper, bake and then enjoy!’