Ten easy ways to eat five a day

By
Nina Littler and Randi Glenn
Added
01 June, 2015

Packing fruit and veg into your diet can sometimes feel long winded - and expensive. But, it’s much easier than you think, according to our new Cooked authors Nina Littler and Randi Glenn, whose book Thrive on Five does a fantastic job of challenging that perception. We asked them to give us ten tips to hit the target.

Spinach: small but mighty

When making soups, stews or curries add a couple of handfuls of spinach at the end of cooking as it will wilt down to very little in no time.

 

Tomato puree IS one of your five-a-day

One heaped tablespoon of tomato puree counts as one of your 5-a-day and is really easy to add to a variety of dishes.

Beef up on beans

Add lentils, borlotti or pinto beans, which can look amazingly like mince, to dishes such as chilli or lasagne as a substitute for meat.  As you can buy these beans in tins, they are incredibly convenient.

 

Packing in the veg means boosting the flavour

Blitzing onion, celery and carrot finely and adding to a soup, curry, stew, curry or bake, provides extra portions of vegetables, adds great flavour, and reduces the need for stock powder.

Prepare ahead

Roasting vegetables with or without oil reduces quantity and concentrates flavour.  It's also a great way to cook lots of vegetables at once.  Perfect for aubergines, carrots, courgettes, mushrooms, onions, peppers and squash. Once they're cooked, you'll be much more likely to eat them.

 

Living the fry life

Light stir-frying is a great way to cook vegetables quickly, particularly if you need to use up leftover vegetables at the end of the week.  Once cooked, if you keep them in the fridge you will have a few extra days to consume them, so they are less likely to go to waste.


Freezer power

Buy your favourite vegetables and fruit when they are in season, cook them, freeze them, and you will have a ready supply. Butternut squash, corn, courgette and pumpkin can be frozen without pre-cooking. Just add straight from the freezer to your soup, curry or stew.

Herb heroes

Salad leaves are nutritious but they are very light, so for one 80g portion you need a large bowlful. But watercress and herbs count too and they will add flavour to your salad leaves.

 

Start as you mean to carry on

Breakfast is a great time to start thinking about five-a-day.  Even a traditional English cooked breakfast can get you there.  Beans, tomatoes and mushrooms with a glass of juice will give you four of your five portions. Then try adding a portion of spinach, great with eggs, and you'll get to five.


Dips without the chips

If you need a quick snack, or if the kids are hungry when they get in from school, you'll be amazed at how quickly dips get devoured. If raw vegetables are ready chopped for use as dippers, these will probably disappear quickly too!


Try some of these recipes from the book to get you going

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