We all know that we should all be eating more fruit and vegetables a day – but sometimes it is difficult to think of ways to tempt children to eat more fruit and vegetables – and also it can be confusing to work out exactly what counts as a portion of fruit and vegetables as well.
What is a portion?
One portion is about 80 grams, which could be half a grapefruit, a slice of melon, a handful of grapes, an apple, two satsumas, three dried apricots or a tablespoon of raisins.
One portion of veg could be three heaped tablespoons of peas, carrots or sweetcorn or a bowl of salad. A medium-sized glass of 100% fruit juice also counts.
What Fruits and Vegetables count?
- Fresh, frozen, tinned and dried fruit and vegetables.
- Pure fruit and vegetable juices.
- Veg in ready meals, takeaways, pasta sauces and soups.
- Fruit in puddings.
- But watch out for added salt/ fat/ sugar in takeaways and ready meals – check out the labels.
What Fruits and Vegetables don’t count?
- Potatoes, because they are considered a ‘starchy’ food like bread and pasta, but these are all important parts of a healthy diet. And potatoes are a good source of vitamin C as well.
- More than one glass of juice – even if you drink lots of it during the day, juice has hardly any fibre and has loads of sugar which is bad for your teeth and is very fattening.
- More than one portion of beans or pulses a day, because they don’t give the same mixture of vitamins and minerals as fruit and veg.
- Jam. Vitamin pills and supplements, as they don’t contain fibre.
- Eating your favourite fruit or vegetable five times a day also does not count surprisingly. It is important to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables to get the maximum benefits from all the different nutrients.
So how can you introduce more fruit and vegetables into your families diet.
- Slice banana into your cereal.
- Snack on an apple, banana, handful of grapes or raisins rather than a packet of crisps.
- Have a glass of orange juice.
- Dip veg sticks (e.g. carrots, celery) into salsa sauce. Add diced vegetables or fruit to lunch boxes. Finger foods are much more tempting for kids and even adults to nibble on.
- Stuff salad bits such as cucumber, lettuce and tomato into your sandwiches.
- Add extra vegetables to pizza, pasta sauces and soups.
- Stir fries, stews and casseroles are any easy way of combining up to nine vegetables in one go. Replace stodgy puddings with a hunk of melon or a fruit salad.
- Make a smoothie – blend low fat natural yoghurt with two handfuls of blackberries, blueberries or raspberries.
- Make fruit kebabs by threading bite-sized chunks of apples, pears, strawberries and pineapple onto wooden skewers – you could even grill or barbeque them.