How DO we get our 5 or 10 a day?
How DO we get our 5 (or is it now 10) a day?
If you, like me, spend a few minutes each evening totting up fair portions of that day’s intake of fruit and veg, and struggle to get to five, then I hope what follows will help. Firstly, if you do undertake this exercise, you presumably want good health and that’s a great start! But on the standard British diet it is quite a chore, so I believe that we need to be creative and even re-work the meals that we have become used to since childhood.
The standard British diet as I know it is something like this: cereal or toast for breakfast, a sandwich (with a token lettuce leaf or tomato slice) for lunch, perhaps followed by an apple, satsuma, or glass of juice, and a snack of cake or biscuits mid-afternoon. So we arrive at dinnertime having consumed only one portion of the good stuff and try our best to add an extra vegetable to our plate of let’s say meat, veg and potatoes (the latter not counting, we are told.) Perhaps after dinner we find time to peel a piece of fruit or open a can of peaches. Our total for the day is, if we try, usually three and occasionally five; ten seems utterly impossible!
So let’s have a re-think, starting with breakfast, although this recipe could be consumed after school or work, of course. Here I have my youngest daughter to thank. At New Year, she began making green smoothies for breakfast. The ‘newly mown grass’ aura of a smoothie half-filled with raw greens was off-putting at first. But try it I did, and our morning routine, after coffee, of course, provides three to five portions all in a glass! We use an ordinary blender, rather than a juicer, in order to get the fibre which is filling and good for the gut. Try: a good mugful of raw broccoli and/or spinach, a banana and an apple per person, a squeezed orange and a lemon or lime (get all the pulp in), a chunk of cucumber or a kiwi, an avocado, berries, a cup of cooled peppermint tea (or water), cinnamon (helps to keep blood sugars level), grated ginger for digestion and so on.
Meals can be re-thought not around bread or meat/dairy but around vegetables! Of course, we all need some protein and healthy fat, and growing children need fuelling with carbs too. But many of us have done our growing, are less active and may even be becoming insulin-resistant from refined carbohydrates: not only from sugars but refined flour too. As a coeliac, I am in the fortunate position of having to shun all gluten containing foods, mostly ‘carby’ treats. But I have even cut down on my gluten free breads and cereals, filling up with a good array of veg instead. For example, brunches of last night’s veg leftovers or a salad with some salmon or eggs, veg instead of pasta on spag bol nights, or half a portion of rice topped up with a portion of peas alongside the ‘main’. Bananas are the cheapest of nutritive snacks and come ready-wrapped! Apples with cheese were always a favourite during my childhood and my own children still beg a raw carrot whilst waiting for dinner!
Once we are getting our 5 a day and aiming for 5 more, what do you think about including these: nuts and olives (as in the oil) are the fruits of trees too and extremely nutritious and sustaining. Good quality pickles, preserves and conserves (jams) are becoming popular among the health conscious for good gut health. A tablespoon of any of these could be counted as half a portion of fruit and veg, I put to you. Beetroot is said to lower blood pressure. Blackcurrants are an old winter remedy for cold prevention when fresh fruit and veg were not so available. Cook often with onions, garlic and tomatoes. As I have heard one doctor say, condiments should now become ‘mains’ and ‘mains’ should be reduced to condiments. An interesting thought!