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Hitting your daily vegetable target...

Hitting your daily vegetable target

Current guidance for our daily vegetable intake suggests 5-7 portions (depending on who you speak to). The guidance typically refers to fruit and vegetables but I think the emphasis should be on vegetables. Generally, I tend to advise a minimum of 5 portions of vegetables per day and 1-2 pieces of fruit on top of that.

Variation is key; all the portions should be a different type of vegetable and we want the full spectrum of colours – from dark green through to purple and orange.

What do we mean by a portion? As a rough measure – anything that will amount to a handful when chopped.

To benefit from all the different kinds of vegetables available to us, we don’t necessarily want to eat the same 5 portions of vegetables every day. Although, if you are buying a packet or in bulk it might be that your weekly vegetables are roughly the same – but try the next week to vary the shopping list. One idea is to experiment with a new vegetable each week; vegetables such as aubergine and cauliflower can provide a standalone meal (there are lots of recipes available online).

What we sometimes forget is how often vegetables are used in cooking to form the basis of a dish or to add flavour so if you are eating freshly prepared meals, you will likely be working towards your daily target without realising.

Here are some additional tips to help increase your daily vegetable intake:

  1. Prepare some feta and roasted vegetable egg muffins for breakfast.

  2. Have a vegetable-based smoothie in the morning if the day ahead looks like it might be low on the vegetable front.

  3. If you’re having scrambled eggs on toast, add a layer of finely chopped tomatoes and/or spinach on the toast.

  4. If you are buying pre-prepared sandwiches or salads during the working week, buy yourself some additional salad items (e.g. horseradish, beetroot, avocado) which will last the week to add to your lunches.

  5. Chop carrots or pepper to have with dip for a snack or pre-dinner nibble (instead of crisps).

  6. Mash avocado with lime, olive oil and chili flakes to make an easy avocado side dip.

  7. Add spring onion, peas and chives to your mash potato.

  8. Try sweet potato cakes for lunch or dinner: cook and mash sweet potato, stir through finely chopped pepper, tomato and onion, separate into burger shapes and then lightly fry on each side. Four vegetables in one go!

  9. Cook a curry from scratch – you will need at least onion, garlic and tomato for a fresh curry plus plenty of spices which have their own super health benefits.

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