Five, Seven or None a Day!
Over the past couple of weeks the newspapers have been full of articles about how many servings of fruit and vegetables we should eat. This week they reported that quarter of British adults don’t eat any fruit or vegetables and prefer to live off junk food instead.
I find this difficult to believe. We are informed regularly that several servings of fresh fruit and veggies should be eaten daily. Some suggest we should eat five a day and others seven and some …10 a day!
I know people don’t like to be told what they should be eating and how they should live their lives – I don’t like being nagged either, but when thousands of studies conclude that fresh fruit and vegetables are beneficial to health, it seems common sense to eat them! After all, centuries ago the human diet was mostly made up of plants, fruits, seeds and nuts.
These days, one in three young adults aged between 25-34 years old are overweight. This figure rises to 50 per cent of 35-44 year olds then the figure improves for the over 45 age group.
A diet of junk food, processed meals, sugary snacks, crisps and fizzy drinks is not going to help anyone lose weight. There’s a lot of sugar added to foods which simply should not contain sugar, for example, breads, cooking sauces, baked beans, tinned foods and savoury ready meals not to mention the “low fat” products where often the fat is replaced by sugar to give it some flavour!
Fresh food is the answer. I have read dozens of comments related to newspaper articles where people say they cannot afford fresh food. Fruit and veg are cheap but perhaps not if you enjoy eating strawberries or asparagus in January! Processed food is expensive too and not only that, it’s unhealthy. Perhaps it’s easy to heat through, so very convenient, but the key to heating healthily and being able to afford reasonably priced food is to:-
Cook from scratch
Make sure that there are plenty of nutritious, colourful fruit and vegetables in the meals. Onions, celery, spinach, broccoli, carrots, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower and sweet potatoes are good value all year round. In the summer there are a host of others including tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines, peas, runner beans, French beans, sugarsnap peas, sweetcorn and salads. A lot of dishes can be prepared quickly and easily using fresh ingredients, for example, stir-fries are very quick to cook for a midweek meal and can include plenty of fresh vegetables. During the summer months a main course salad is a great way to eat several portions of veggies in one meal. Finish off the meal with a portion of fruit – perfect!
People work long hours and many believe that cooking is too time consuming. After a hard day’s work, without meal planning, it must be very difficult to get any inspiration for cooking at all and that’s when so many people order takeaways or pop out to the supermarket for a ready meal. The answer is to plan the week’s meals, say at the weekend, and include plenty of fresh vegetables in the meal plan.
Eat fruit and vegetables which are in season
They will be fresh which means their nutritional value will be higher. When anything is in season it’s cheaper.
Don’t automatically think that the supermarket is going to be the cheapest place to buy fresh fruit and veg as this is often not the case. Try local markets, greengrocers, farm shops and online. Many markets are 30% cheaper than supermarkets when it comes to fruit and veg!
Some of the large “discount” supermarkets such as Lidl and Aldi have regular offers on fruit and vegetables which are good value if you can’t buy yours from a local shop or market.
I posted one of my favourite vegetable recipes on this website recently; Vegetarian Lasagne. The dish is very easy to make and consists of fresh tomatoes, red (bell) peppers, a red onion, 2 courgettes (zucchini) and 3 garlic cloves together with cheese sauce and lasagne sheets. The recipe is filling, delicious, healthy and inexpensive to make.
My three books have lots of recipes in them which include vegetables. Some are vegetarian dishes but the meat based ones often contain vegetables or beans.
It is so important to eat fruit and vegetables. If you have any space outside, why not have a go at growing some of your own? It’s not too late in the season to grow tomatoes, beans, salads and a host of other veg and maybe a few strawberries. They will work out cheaper than buying them from a shop and will taste far superior when freshly prepared!
So, like Grandmas always say; “eat your greens”. They’re good for you!