Fruit and vegetables are really important for a healthy diet. They not only taste great but they provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Research has shown that eating fruit and veg can help counter obesity. With as many as a third of children aged 2-15 in the UK classified as overweight, encouraging a healthy balanced diet is more important than ever.
In order to increase the number of fruit and vegetables eaten in the UK, the government started a campaign in 2003 called “5 a day” to encourage greater consumption. Sixteen years later, only 31% of adults between 19 and 64 are consuming 5 a day. Even more worryingly, only 18% of children between 5 and 15 eat their 5 a day.
What is stopping people eating their fruit and veg?
Fruit and veg are often seen as expensive, and in some cases they can be. However, there are cheaper alternatives. Frozen vegetables are just as good as fresh and they are already chopped which makes them really easy to use and can be easily dipped into as they live in the freezer. Tinned fruit and vegetables are also great.
Another great idea is to grow your own! Why not join up with Hands of Hope and grow your own food. Not only will it give you the chance to make new friends, fresh air and exercise but also the chance to discover how a seed can grow into a plant and produce food that tastes amazing!
Eating fruit and veg doesn’t have to be seen as a challenge. Here are a few ideas of how to introduce them easily into your diet:
- Add fruit to cereals or porridge in the morning. You could use raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. In the shops these are expensive however if you were to go scavenging, a fun thing to do with your children you can find lots of wild blackberries they are opulent at the moment! Raspberries you can have a go at growing yourself, and they taste so good.
- Make soups. You can pack soups full of a variety of vegetables and play around with different flavours, such as carrot and coriander (both of these can be grown in the garden), leek and potato, or sweet potato with a little curry powder. The list is endless. Not only is soup a great way for you to incorporate veggies into your diet, it is a good option if you have vegetables which are on the turn. This reduces food waste and saves money.
- Make your own pasta sauce, a tin of tomatoes, and some frozen veggies,a few herbs and a stock cube – tastes fab!
- Pulses like lentils and chickpeas also count as one of your five a day. These are full of protein and fibre and combined with veggies make some great meals which are not only cheap but nutritious. Pulses will also bulk out meals that you might think are not going to go far enough. Try adding them to a chilli, casserole or a curry. You could also make interesting salads with them or cook a tasty veggie lasagna.