Tag Archives: vegetables

Easy cheats to improve your diet

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:

Breakfast boost

Porridge

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.

 

 

Berry blast

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

Hummus 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.

Smashing

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.

Fibre fuels lower cancer risk

Fibre - how much is enough?
Fibre - how much is enough?

We are often told that eating a diet high in fibre will help to keep our digestive system healthy and protect us from some illnesses, including cancer. But how much is enough and how can we add more to our diet?

Studies have found that eating foods that contain fibre can lower our risk of bowel cancer, the third most common cancer in the UK. Fibre-rich foods also help to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, which can help you to maintain a healthy heart.

Fibre is an important part of our diet and is found in a variety of plant foods. It is best to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and wholegrain cereals (such as wholegrain bread and brown rice). Pulses (such as beans and lentils) are also fibre-rich and can count as one portion per day towards your 5 A DAY.

For optimal cancer and disease prevention, adults should aim to eat 18 grams of fibre a day. However, most people in Britain don’t reach this target; diet surveys indicate that eight out of 10 of us are not getting enough fibre, which is only found in plant foods. One of the best ways to increase your fibre intake is to eat your 5 A DAY portions of fruits and vegetables.

Fibre content of common foods

Apple – 2g fibre

Baked potato (with skin) – 4.9g fibre

Broccoli – 2g fibre per portion

Red lentils – 3g fibre per portion

Wholewheat bread – 1.8g fibre per slice

Wholewheat pasta – 6.3g fibre per portion

7 ways to eat more fibre

1. Add chopped fresh or dried fruit to your breakfast cereal.

2. Try porridge with low-fat milk and fruit for an alternative breakfast.

3. Replace white pasta and rice with wholegrain varieties and switch white bread for multi-seeded wholegrain bread.

4. Keep the skin on fruit and vegetables whenever possible.

5. Pack your sandwiches with salad and vegetables.

6. Include more pulses, such as beans and lentils, in your diet – you could add them to stews, soups, casseroles and pasta sauces.

7. Liven up the variety of cereals you cook with. Why not try cous cous, bulgar wheat or pearl barley next time you are cooking?

Interesting recipes to help increase your daily fibre intake can be found in the recipe section of our website or in our range of healthy cookbooks.