The 5-a-day campaign was introduced in 2003 and by this point, it’s something that most are more than familiar with. We’ve all been told that we need to eat at least five different fruit and veg a day, but have you ever really been told how?
Most guides will tell you something along the lines of “have a side salad with dinner” or “add fruit to your morning bowl of cereal”, and although this advice is definitely useful to a certain degree, there are more effective, and more delicious, ways to achieve your 5-a-day than this. The recipes below are designed to be quick and simple so that you can integrate them into your busy schedule, but feel free to explore more intricate dishes if you have the time!
Straight from Blender Smoothies
Let’s start with a smoothie for breakfast. All you have to do is get a bunch of fruit (or even some vegetables if you want to have a bit less sugar in the morning) and some milk, then shove it all in a blender. I would personally go for some sort of nut milk, probably oat, because in the context of a smoothie, you definitely won’t taste the difference and its a great way to keep your breakfast meat and dairy-free without you even noticing, but any milk will work, just use what you’ve got.
You also don’t need to buy fresh fruit to make a good smoothie. Modern flash-freezing technology is so efficient that the fruit and vegetables virtually lose no nutritional value when they are frozen. In fact, some fruit and veg actually have more nutritional value than their fresh counterparts. This is mainly due to the fact that these fruit and veg are picked at peak ripeness and immediately frozen. Whereas “fresh” fruit is usually picked under-ripe, so that it can ripen on the journey and remains shelf-stable for longer.
Some supermarkets even stock pre-mixed frozen fruit and veg for smoothies, like Morrisons. You can get whatever you have on hand, smoothies don’t have to be complicated and you can make something simple that will still be delicious.
Most modern western meals are based around meat. To many of us, a meal doesn’t feel complete unless there is some sort of meat involved. Now, I’m not about to tell you that you have to cut out meat entirely and become vegan, but what I will tell you is that meat doesn’t need to be the star of every show.
There are so many extremely satisfying meals where meat plays a supporting role. One meal like this might be a Chopped Thai Chicken Salad. This refreshing, slightly spicy zingy salad, consists of mostly cabbage and a little bit of shredded chicken, flavoured with herbs and a delicious dressing. It’s a perfect option for lunch or maybe as a side for dinner. And on top of all that, it’s a great way to use some leftover chicken.
Salads don’t just have to be iceberg lettuce and a dressing. In fact, the best way to get your 5-a-day is to make a salad that has a variety of fruit and vegetables, so you can get everything you need for the day in one sitting. Another option might be a chopped salad like this one by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
Okay so now we’ve come to the last meal of the day, and because its that time of year where it’s a bit colder, I personally crave a nice soup. There are many different types of soup you could choose from and most of them will do you good. But in terms of getting your 5-a-day, one of your best options might be a minestrone. The benefit of this soup is that its quick, simple and also extremely delicious.
I have personally used this recipe as a jumping-off point for my own creations, and it all comes together in less than 30 minutes. You don’t have to follow the recipe exactly (and could just raid your fridge for whatever vegetables you have), but keep in mind that you want to start with a strong flavour base. Most stocks add a mirepoix, which at its most basic form consists of diced onion, carrot and celery. These three vegetables are extremely aromatic and will give any soup that classic taste you’re used to. Just that alone should take care of 3 of your 5-a-day.
There are, of course, countless dishes that include vegetables and would ensure that you achieve your 5-a-day, this article doesn’t even scratch the surface. Listed above are just a few recipes and ideas that will hopefully provide you with some sort of inspiration.
A final tip that I would like to relay to you is that you should always try and buy fruit and vegetables that are in season. Although this is easier in some months than others, seasonal fruit and vegetables taste significantly better than their out of season counterparts; they can taste bland when grown in a greenhouse and therefore don’t reach their full flavour potential.
If you pick the crops right, and if you cook them right, they can be delicious, and extremely good for you. Fruit and veg are packed full of nutrients and fibre, which will leave you feeling great and full of energy, making everyday life that much easier and so much more enjoyable.
Written by Matt Wilkinson
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