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How to have your 10 a day – my tips

Lots of people have responded to the latest advice to eat 10 portions of vegetables and fruit a day with horror!  But is it really that difficult?  Here I share my tips on how to have your 10 a day.

First of all what is a portion?  It is about 80g of fruit or vegetables.  So roughly one apple, pear, avocado etc., 2 spears of broccoli, dessert bowl of salad, 1/2 red pepper, 3 tbsp. beans or peas, 7 tomatoes or 7 strawberries.  Even easier is to think of it as a cup full or the size of your fist.

And why should you eat more vegetables and fruit?  Eating up to 800g of fruit and vegetables (equivalent to 10 portions and double the recommended amount in the UK) is associated with a 24% reduced risk of heart disease, a 33% reduced risk of stroke, a 28% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13% reduced risk of total cancer and a 31% reduction in premature deaths.IJE Study

Here are my tips on how to have your 10 a day.

  1. Include a portion or two with breakfast. You can do this by adding a portion  of berries or stewed apples to porridge or granola, they are full of antioxidants and great for your digestion.  You could also make a vegetable omelette or add some spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes to your scrambled eggs.  Another option is having a small salad with whatever your normal breakfast choice is.
  2. Swap your sandwich for a salad.  If you are in a main town or city you could have a large salad from Pret, Eat, Pod, Leon or similar.  Otherwise take in a salad that you have prepared the night before.  This can have a mix of all your favourite vegetables and some protein.
  3. For dinner reduce meat in casseroles and replace with extra vegetables and lentils or beans.  Stir fries make an excellent choice and can include mushrooms, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, peppers, celery, green beans etc.    Add 2 portions of vegetables as a side for every dish (try vegetable noodles).  Replace wraps with large lettuce leaves, used roasted vegetables instead of potatoes or pasta.  Use broccoli or cauliflower to make vegetable “rice” – just blitz in a blender or food processor and gently cook for a few minutes, here are some tips BBCGoodFoodCauliRice.
  4. For a starter, include a small salad of bitter leaves (rocket, radicchio and chicory) or a soup of blend mixed vegetables.
  5. Seek out unusual brightly coloured vegetables to try, the more variety the better.
  6. Use herbs liberally, these are counted towards your 10 a day grow some in the garden!
  7. Have vegetables for a snack, carrot, celery or pepper with humus, tomato salsa or guacamole.
  8. Try a vegetable box delivery scheme, guaranteed to expand your vegetable repertoire!
  9. Look at your plate, ideally it should contain two-thirds plants.
  10. A green smoothie made in a blender (with all of the fibre) is a great way to increase your intake, include greens (kale, spinach, rocket), oranges or kiwi, cucumber, ginger, herbs, lime and avocado.
  11. Finally my favourite treat is a simple coconut based desert, whizz up some frozen berries (cherries are my favourite) with a tin of coconut milk and enjoy immediately!

Rainbow of fruit and vegetables.

Unfortunately the following don’t count:

  1. Potatoes it does not matter whether they are boiled, mashed or baked!
  2. “Salad” in your sandwich  is not a big enough portion.
  3. Ketchup may be made from tomatoes but it is too processed to count.
  4. Fruit yoghurts do not include enough fruit to count.
  5. Wine despite coming from grapes and some scientists saying the red variety is good for you, it is not one of your portions.
  6. Ready-made veggie burgers  contain hardly any vegetables.
  7. Jam is fruity, but you could not eat enough of it!

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