Since this is the week for making resolutions, I thought I’d write about a resolution that we made recently: to try and eat ten portions of vegetables and fruit a day. In reality, since we try to eat low carb, this means eating tons of veg!
A report published in the Guardian suggested that ten a day “was 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.” For a review of this report, see the NHS website.
Ten a day felt initially like a bit of a tall order. Especially since I have often found it hard to eat five a day. In fact, I could quite happily eat a diet of none a day! Eggs on toast for lunch, perhaps, then fish and chips for dinner. I remember years ago writing in my diary that the only portion of veg I’d had one day was the lettuce in my MacDonalds burger.
We don’t usually eat breakfast so basically we’re trying to eat five portions at lunchtime and another five at dinner. How on earth could we manage that?
Pulses like beans and lentils – even tinned baked beans – count as a portion of veg. This is good news as we eat a lot of those. But you can only count one portion a day. So if you have beans on toast for lunch, then lentil dahl for dinner, it’s only counted as one portion, not two.
I think a diet is easier to stick to if you modify what you normally eat rather than starting from scratch with a whole load of new recipes. We often eat eggs for lunch, in one form or another. Instead of making an omelette, I’ve started baking a frittata in the oven, packed with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers. Rather than eating boiled eggs on toast, we have a salad with mixed leaves, tomatoes, olives, cucumber and beetroot with some tuna and boiled eggs for protein. Sometimes we’ll have a homemade coleslaw or an avocado.
If we want a change from eggs, I make soup by roasting squash, beetroot, carrots and onion with a couple of cloves of garlic. I then add this to cooked red lentils and vegetable stock and blitz it with a handblender. Or we make a green Thai curry flavoured soup with vegetables such as bamboo shoots, carrots, mushrooms, mange-tout and babycorn in a vegetable stock flavoured with green Thai paste. All very easy and quick and all really delicious.
Dinners have been easy to adapt too. One of my favourites is paneer makhani – Indian cheese in a buttery, mild curry sauce. I sometimes cheat and buy the sauce ready-made choosing one that is not packed with sugar or too highly processed. I add peas and spinach to this sauce, along with the paneer which I lightly fry first. Then we serve it with a cucumber raita, roast cauliflower lightly dusted with cumin, and home-made onion bhajis baked rather than deep-fried. Five whole portions in one meal.
More info if you want to read up on ten a day: