A couple of food challenges for Lent

When I was a child, every Lent we used to give something up.  I remember giving up chocolate or sweets, grown ups would come visit my mum and dad and would often bring us some sweets and I would put them in a jar so that come Easter I would have this little treasure chest.  I realise now as an adult that I don’t have that sweet a tooth so it was probably an easy thing for me to do.  It has been many, many years since I have given up anything for Lent but I was rather taken with this idea from Love Food Hate Waste.  They are challenging everyone to give up binning food.  Check out their website to find out how much food is wasted every year, the impact this has on the environment and our pockets.  There are loads of ideas on how to use up leftovers, shop for what you need and great recipes.  They reckon giving up binning food could save you up to £60 this lent – so why not do your bit for the planet and your pocket, give it a go.  Lent is 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday – can you do it?

french veg

I said a ‘couple’ of  challenges.  Challenge number 2 is can you add a portion of fruit or veg to your day?

The newspapers have been awash with the news that really we should be aiming for 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, not 5.

This is not a new story.  There have been a lot of studies showing additional health benefits to be gained by exceeding the recommended 5 a day.  This latest study is a meta-analysis (pulling lots of studies together to see the overall findings with some clever statistics) and confirms that this is true.  But will the advice change as a result of this report?

The current message is ‘aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day’ and this will not change.  The average current intake is around 2-3 portions and to aim for 5 is a realistic and achievable goal.  10 portions is not realistic for most people.  The most important and simple message is just eat more.  So the challenge is, can you add another portion of fruit and veg to your day?  If you want to take it further, can you eat 5 portions every day? Can you beat 5 portions sometimes?

Variety is important – eat a rainbow of different colours as the nutrient profile of veg and fruit varies a lot with colour.  Try new vegetables, try vegetables cooked in different ways, add vegetables to dishes that you wouldn’t normally.  My kids love petit pois in scrambled eggs for dinner; I love sliced cooked (not pickled of course) beetroot added to a potato bake; stir fried Brussels sprouts;  roasting sweet potato, parnips, carrots, courgettes etc with the roast potatoes on a Sunday; cook some vegetables with your rice…..any other suggestions?

There are lots of easy ways to add a portion to your day and it needn’t cost loads either.

  • Have a small glass of juice or smoothie with breakfast (150ml is a portion and can only count as one portion however much more you drink)
  • Throw a handful of raisins or other dried fruit on your cereal.
  • Chop up some fruit to have with yoghurt or cereal for breakfast – peanut and banana on toast for breakfast.
  • A piece of fruit or some chopped veg with hummous for a snack or some dried fruit and nuts.
  • Have a salad for lunch or some vegetable soup, put salad in your sandwich and have some extra veg in your lunchbox with it – some carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes, chunks of cucumber
  • Add extra veg to your bolognese, chilli, casseroles, curries, risottos etc – frozen veg makes this easy and cheap.
  • Always have a mixture of vegetables with your bit of fish, chicken, roast meat etc
  • Could you have a meat free day and fill the space with some great vegetable filled meals?

So are you up for the challenge?  Share some of your vegetable success stories.  I am at 3 portions at the moment after lunch and eyeing up a juicy looking apple….don’t think I will make 10 today.  Depends how I count the number of portions in my veggie soup that is lined up for dinner.  Pumpkin, celery, leek, sweet potato, lentils and potato (but they don’t count as they are a starchy food).  Think I would need 2 large bowlfuls to make that count up to 10.

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