Five-a-day always used to be the magic number, but in recent years several studies have found that actually we should all be aiming to eat 10 portions of fruit and vegetables, daily.
Now while that does sound rather a lot, the good news is that once you start thinking beyond green apples and frozen peas with your dinner (although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!) there are plenty of interesting, unusual and downright delicious ways to incorporate extra fruit and veg into everyday eating.
Here are a few of our favourites (note that one portion is approximately 80g):
Next time you have a boiled egg, instead of popping a slice of bread in the toaster, cook a few pieces of broccoli instead. Drizzle with olive oil, season with black pepper and add a sprinkling of chilli flakes – then get dipping.
Something borderline magical happens when you expose pineapple to a high heat: the sugars caramelise, infusing the tender flesh with a smoky-sweet flavour. To try this revelation, slice a pineapple into 1cm thick steaks, then cut in half and remove the core. Brush lightly with olive oil and cook in a screaming-hot griddle pan or on the barbecue for five minutes on each side. The grilled fruit tastes fantastic with Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream but for something more unusual (and seriously tasty) match it with BBQ chicken and you’ll have yourself a winning dinner.
3.Instant banana ice cream
Not only is this ice cream vegan and free from both sugar and gluten, it also happens to be very tasty indeed (and ever so easy). Chop ripe bananas into even-sized pieces and place in the freezer until frozen solid. Tip into a blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.
On your next movie night instead of reaching for the popcorn, try your hand at cauliflower popcorn instead. Separate the raw florets into small, popcorn-size pieces and toss with olive oil, curry powder and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until crisp and golden around the edges.
5.Pea and mint dip
Tender, delicious and packed with nutrients, frozen peas deserve to be celebrated more. To make a dip that will go down well with adults and children alike, cook peas or petit pois in boiling water until tender. Drain and leave to cool, then tip into a blender with a couple of spoonfuls of cream cheese or labneh, a few mint leaves and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Blitz well and serve with crunchy raw vegetables for dunking.
6.Citrus salad with carrot and lime dressing
Forget about fruit salad being a boring choice and add a zippy, citrussy number to your recipe repertoire instead. The key to making this option really interesting lies in the dressing: bring carrot juice, lime juice, honey and turmeric to the boil in a small pan and heat until reduced by half. Leave to cool completely, then drizzle over sliced grapefruit, kiwi and orange. Dust with lime zest and serve.
These might just be the quickest pancakes you’ll ever make. Pop a couple of pieces of frozen spinach in a bowl and leave to defrost. In another bowl, whisk together one egg and one tablespoon plain flour, then add the defrosted spinach (along with any liquid) and mix to make a thin batter. Heat a little butter in a non-stick pan, then cook spoonfuls of the mixture for 1-2 minutes on each side. Serve with all kinds of toppings, for example: cream cheese and pesto, hummus and grated carrot, sliced cheddar and cherry tomatoes.
Prepare a big batch of this salsa at the start of the week, keep it in the fridge in an airtight container and then serve as an accompaniment to roast chicken or fish, try it with tortilla chips, add to sandwiches or wraps or present as part of a Mexican-style feast, with tacos, guacamole, sour cream and refried beans. To make the salsa, dice mango flesh into small pieces and mix with lime juice and zest, chopped red chilli, very finely sliced red onion and coriander leaves.
9.Dark chocolate dipped orange segments
Flip the classic chocolate orange combination on its head and make it healthier at the same time by dipping orange segments in silky smooth melted chocolate. Sprinkle with sea salt, chill in the fridge, then devour.
10.Smoothie ice lollies
Warning: make these for your children and they’re likely to love you even more. The really great thing about these processed sugar-free lollies are that they’re wholesome and healthy, yet still feel like a real treat. To make them, put handfuls of strawberries (or blackberries, or raspberries) in a blender with a chopped banana, a couple of tablespoons of thick Greek yogurt and a tablespoon of porridge oats. Blend until smooth (add a splash of coconut water or milk if the mixture seems too thick) then pour into ice lolly moulds and freeze overnight.