7 a day- the easy way

The 7 a day challenge

Following a recent report from University College London we are now being told that we need to increase our daily target of fruit and vegetables from five to seven- focusing on vegetables rather than fruit- if we wish to cut our risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. This is great news- I have long recommended my clients eat at least seven portions per day- my husband said he thought it was “depressing.” “Most people are just about managing to eat five a day and now we’re told it’s not enough- we may as well give up”

Of course, I disagree, instead I believe people need to think differently about how they eat . Our breakfast and snacks should feature one portion. Vegetables should be the star attraction of our main meals rather then a limp afterthought.  Bulking out your meals with extra salad and vegetables means it takes you longer to eat, so you feel more satisfied.  Plus you should see added benefits of better digestion, clearer skin and heaps more energy.

Variety is important to make sure you  get a broad range of nutrients. Supermarket vegetables often look good but they can be disappointing when it comes to flavour. Visit your local market or have a vegetable box delivered and become inspired by seasonal produce. We also eat with our eyes; a plate which is bursting with colour looks so much inviting than a bland plate of meat and potatoes.

Here are my  suggestions on how you can easily get your seven-a day.

1 small handful berries- 1 serving

Breakfast – Aim for 1 -2 servings

A small handful of berries with your porridge, cereals or yoghurt – 1 serving

½ pepper and large handful of spinach chopped and mixed into scrambled egg – 1.5 servings

1 tomato, 7 button mushrooms – grilled served with a poached egg – 1.5 servings

Slice of granary toast with peanut butter- and 150ml glass of unsweetened fruit juice – 1 serving

Mid-morning snack – 1 serving

1 apple- 1 serving

1 piece of fruit e.g. apple, pear with a small handful of mixed unsalted nuts – 1 serving

2 dried figs and a small handful of pumpkin seeds - 1 serving

Lunch – aim for 2-3 servings

Vegetable based soup  with a large handful of greens e.g. spinach, rocket or watercress– 2-3 servings

Spinach, tomato, pepper, cucumber - 3 servings

Large green salad – start with a couple of large handfuls of greens e.g. spinach, rocket or water cress and add peppers, tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, beetroot until you have at least 3 servings of vegetables then add your protein of choice e.g. feta cheese, tuna, sardines, smoked salmon- 3 servings

Wholemeal pitta sandwich stuffed with salad as above and houmous or tuna. – 2-3 servings

3 tbps of baked beans on toast served with 2 large handfuls of rocket, 6 cucumber slices and ½ celery stick – 3 servings

Mid-afternoon snack – Half-1 serving

2 carrots- 1 serving

1 carrot or 2 celery sticks cut into batons and dipped into ¼ tub of houmous or guacomole – 1 serving.

¼ cucumber sliced with some smoked salmon or a boiled egg –  1/2 serving

Dinner -aim for 3 servings

Chickpea and squash curry with brown rice (Beans and pulses count as a maximum of one portion a day, however much you eat. This is because, while pulses contain fibre, they don’t give the same mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients as fruit and vegetables.) You could also add cauliflower or spinach to this curry.– 3 servings

Grilled salmon with  3 florets broccoli and 3 tbsp peas  (steamed) and 1 sliced tomato. – 3 servings

Chicken stir fried with 3 tbsp shredded pak choi, 6 baby mushrooms, ½ red onion and ½ red pepper – 3 servings

Cottage pie – include carrots, onions and peas in the base and use butternut squash in the mash.Serve with some steamed broccoli  or kale– 3 servings.

Wholewheat spaghetti served homemade sauce (tinned tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, peppers and tuna) Serve with a green salad- 3 servings.


About Michelle Lake

Hi, I run Mission Nutrition, and I'm a nutritional therapist/ nutritionist helping people all over St Albans & Hertfordshire feel happier & healthier. If your diet needs an overhaul, come and see me for a nutrition consultation! Tel: 01727 893 042 / 01727 869 929 or email michelle@mission-nutrition.co.uk