Last week I said I was trying to eat 9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. I thought I’d let you know how I was doing.
A typical day included a green smoothie or eggs & vegetables for breakfast, a piece of fruit as a snack, and something plus vegetables for lunch. I found myself making healthier choices; for example when I didn’t have a packed lunch I ordered a chicken burger with both salad and mixed vegetables for the sides. Prior to the challenge I would probably have ordered chips in place of the vegetables.
It quickly became clear that to get the 9 servings you really need to be eating mostly vegetables/fruit at each meal. Take a look at a typical dinner plate to the right. That was beef and a whole heaping pile of vegetables.
The key to success is to find lots of different ways of serving vegetables. If you’re anything like me, you quickly get bored of the same things again and again. Luckily there are lots of vegetables, and lots of ways to cook them!
I had a few notable successes. The beef casserole was one. The beef itself was delicious (I cooked it for two and a half hours, with a slug of red wine and vegetable stock. It’s not a quick after work meal, but it is an easy one as you just need to leave it alone!
Once the beef was cooked, I drained the liquids into a bowl and set the beef to rest. I boiled the veg in the casserole liquid, and then made a gravy out of the remaining liquid into which I mixed some spring greens to wilt.
One easy way to get a serving of veg in is to use tomato sauce. In this case, it was passatta into which I mixed smoked paprika and chilli flakes. I cooked until the sauce was thick, wilted some spinach into the pan, then cracked in two eggs and covered the pan with a lid. When the eggs were done I sprinkled on some goats cheese.
Thai Green Curry
Another brilliant choice was a Thai Green Curry. This was super fast… mostly because I used a jar of thai spice paste. Cook up some chicken, toss in a bunch of veg, add a can of coconut milk and your paste and let it simmer. When the veg is cooked, you’re done!
I opted to make some chinese chicken, but replaced the chicken with large mushrooms. This turned out to be a mistake, as the mushrooms soaked up so much of the soy sauce that they tasted of nothing else. It felt a bit like eating solidified sauce. Yech. The greens were no better, as I overcooked them.
A couple of bowls of bananas and cream, or some homemade applesauce finished the day up nicely.
Getting fruit and vegetables while travelling
The weekend proved to be more challenging. I travelled on Friday. I started the day with a green smoothie and picked up a ‘five-a-day’ juice at a juice bar. Luckily, the people I visited had created a vegetable curry for dinner, so Friday was fine.
Then I was dependent on my friends and restaurants. I decided not to worry too much about things, and to eat what was served. I didn’t really want to turn into an obnoxious guest!
Saturday we had fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, but then a buffet lunch (we were at a conference) led to an over-fill on bread and meat. A visit to a Turkish restaurant for dinner meant a salad and some lovely vegetable soup but also a plethora of naan and kofta.
Sunday started well, with a fried breakfast that ticked off three servings (beans, mushrooms, and tomatoes). Lunch also went well, when we got a sunday roast lunch overflowing with parsnips, broccoli and carrots. Unfortunately, the rather delicious additional stuffing, yorkshire puddings, mountain of roast beef and potatoes meant that dinner just didn’t happen at all — we were stuffed!
Still, five servings minimum on both days was not too shabby…. right?
Then Monday happened! We started the day with scrambled eggs and mushrooms (one serving). For lunch we went to a noodle bar. Sadly for me, the only vegetables on display included a large quantity of bell peppers.
Ick. I hate bell peppers. I don’t know why, they are pretty much the only food thing I actually won’t eat.
So I got noodles and chicken, with barely a piece of vegetable in sight. Then I did the only thing possible, and ordered a slice of cake.
The cake was amazing – banana, chocolate and hazelnut – but my total servings of fruit and veg for the day still stood at one.
A train ride home, and we were packed in so tightly that I could barely breathe, let alone snack on the orange in my purse. I finally rolled into the house at 9pm and was too tired to face cooking. So an insta-pack of pasta it was. The packaging claimed it contained broccoli, but if it did it was in such microscopic amounts that it didn’t count.
Sooo… Monday I managed just one serving and that was it.
However, today is another day. I’m about to go and cook up a concoction of eggs and vegetables – at a minimum spinach and mushrooms and then head into town to run a few errands.
After all, it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy!