Think eating more vegetables and fruits is a chore? It really doesn’t have to be – it’s easier than you think to give your diet a boost.
Plant foods are packed full of vitamins and minerals that help strengthen your immune system. Easing more into your diet and ditching the less healthy options can help you stay in shape and reduce your risk of cancer as well as other diseases, such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
These easy swaps and additions take mere seconds to include in your food, and could help improve your diet in the blink of an eye:
Add a big handful of berries to your wholegrain cereal or porridge. Not only will they taste great, but berries are also low in calories and a good source of fibre and vitamin C.
Splash skimmed or semi-skimmed milk instead of full fat on top to upgrade your breakfast.
Try a handful of berries, chopped peach or melon with a few spoonfuls of low-fat natural yoghurt. Add some torn mint leaves for an extra twist.
Wrap it up
Next time you pick a wrap for lunch, swap the meat for a bean-based filling, as beans are a fantastic source of protein and fibre, and count towards your 5 A DAY (although they only count for one portion, no matter how many you eat). If you want the extra health boost, chop up some tomatoes and adding them to the wrap to increase your fruit and vegetable intake.
Take a dip
Instead of reaching for a bag of crisps, choose a variety of rainbow-coloured vegetables to plunge into a low-fat dip. Houmous is made from chickpeas, which contain vitamins, minerals and fibre, as well as protein, but can be high in calories so opt for a reduced-fat version. Or try making your own with our delicious and easy roasted red pepper houmous recipe.
Squeeze in leaves
Shop-bought sandwiches are the ultimate convenience, but their veg content is usually limited to one limp lettuce leaf or a sad slice of soggy tomato. Pep them up by adding in salad leaves, or grating a carrot or raw beetroot over the filling.
Soup it up
An easy way to add extra goodness to shop-bought soups is to stir in two big handfuls of spinach as it heats up. By wilting spinach into soup will give you a helping of vitamins, iron and fibre.
Next time you boil potatoes for mash, add a large handful of chopped carrot five minutes before the potatoes are cooked. Mash them all together and you’ll have snuck in some extra vitamin A and fibre. It works just as well with diced swede and parsnip, although they may need adding a little earlier.
Cheat with cherries
If you can’t face the idea of skipping on a pudding then zap a little dark chocolate in the microwave and dip a bowl of cherries or strawberries in the melted chocolate. Pop them onto some baking paper and into the fridge and, by the time you’ve finished your dinner, you’ll have a not too naughty dessert with the added bonus of vitamin C and fibre.