Seven A Day

The experts are now saying – "Forget 5, make it 7 a day"

now that can be easier said than done when it comes to feeding our families, however by adding a portion or two of fruit or vegetables at each mealtime or snack, you'd be surprised at how easily this can be achieved.

As I have said before, small changes can make big differences - so keep that fruit bowl full of fresh fruit, but try to ensure its full of fruit that is easily accessible to younger children such as easy peelers, grapes, apples, pears, bananas and cherries, try to work with what's in season, however if it comes from a tin it still counts (try in natural juice rather than syrup). Encourage children to snack fruits rather than high fat and high sugar sweets and biscuits.

Here are a few ways to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into your mealtimes:

Think of fruit as a main part of your breakfast – add blueberries to porridge, add slices of banana to whole wheat cereals (i.e. Weetabix); serve granola with homemade fruit compote and fresh yogurt or simply a fruity smoothie that's sure to perk your tastebuds. Serve fresh fruit (like melon pieces or cherries, or berries) wrapped in pancakes with a drizzle of honey, or even a little low fat crème fraiche, healthier does not mean less taste.

If your child/children are attending school try to include fruits such as apples, bananas, easy peeler mandarins, grapes, and pears to their lunchbox. Use crushed avocado as a spread on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise, then top with some slices of smoked salmon and grated carrot. This is a lovely snack with different textures and has a fantastic freshness to it, however you could add slices of cold meats, however remove any visible fat before using.

A big bowl of a vegetable based soup is a great way of getting children to eat more vegetables, again I try to use whatever are in season though sometimes frozen peas and sweetcorn are used. See our Soup Recipes section, there's plenty of choice for all the family. Use as many vegetables as possible for soups that will be pureed, the more the merrier! Season well though. Why not try my homemade vegetable soup.

Incorporate vegetables in many dishes such as spaghetti Bolognaise, tinned tomatoes do count in your 7 a day, so add loads of herbs and vegetables, puree to make a delicious sauce to add to the spaghetti. I also used tinned tomatoes (and fresh tomatoes chopped that are nearing their use by date) when making curries, add a chilli or two for an added kick!.

 Chickpea Curry With Raita

Try out my recipe for a fairly healthy chickpea curry with raita, serve with some plain basmati rice

If you are looking for something to snack on in the evening, there's always the option of fresh fruit chopped into cubes which can be dipped into flavoured yogurts. However if you are looking for something a little bit more savoury you could try some homemade hummus and crudites, perfect for when those hunger pangs hit, but without all the guilt of the usual savoury snacks that we usually reach for.

So to help your children adapt to these healthier choices, be inventive and experiment in serving vegetables in a variety of guises. Encourage your children to cook with you at the weekend, let them prepare easy dishes such as pasta with pestos, and ensure you have a good selection of fruit and vegetables available for them to work with. This will help them have a healthy interest in food.


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