How to get your 5 a day

So the message has hit home: we need to eat more fruit and veg. But aside from gnawing on a bunch of carrots at your desk whilst you check your email, how are you supposed to fit all this extra goodness into your daily eating schedule? 4Food consults the experts

According to the Food Standards Agency, most people know that we should be eating more fruit and veg. But most of us aren't actually eating enough. Why? Well, mostly, none of us seem to know what a portion actually is. And those that do don't know where they can add it to their meals - without it becoming a mission.

What is a portion? *

*Courtesy of Food Standards Agency, 2008

Them's the rules

According to the NHS 5 a Day campaign, there are exceptions to the official guidelines.

Fresh, frozen, chilled, (surprisingly) canned, 100% juice and smoothies all count towards your daily intake, as do dried fruit and vegetables. But potatoes and other related vegetables such as yams and cassava don't count. This is because they are classified as 'starchy foods'.

Fruit and veg contained in convenience foods like ready meals, pasta sauces, soups and puddings, also contribute to your 5 a Day. However, these ready-made foods can be high in salt, sugar and fat, which should only ever be eaten in moderation, so, as always, it's important to check the nutrition information on the labels and packaging.

Practical ways to fit in the big 5

Knowing what we should include is all well and good - but where? That is the question. Try these sneaky ways recommended by the NHS to rack up your total.

Muesli

Add a handful of dried fruit to your cereal. Try this apple bircher muesli.

Eat half a grapefruit or an apple.

Drink a glass of fruit juice.

Pineapple and passion fruit salad

Eat a bowl of salad, such as this Mediterranean vegetable salad.

Have a fruity sandwich - banana sarnie, anyone?

Have some fruit salad - try this exotic pineapple and passion fruit salad with pomegranate.

Chicken with creamy pesto broad beans

Add vegetables or pulses to your curry, casserole or stir fry. This chicken with creamy pesto and broad beans recipe should hit the spot.

Serve at least two types of vegetables with your fish, chicken or meat, such as in this fish parcels with carrots, orange and coriander dish.

Are smoothies a healthy way to your 5 a day or a secret sugar nasty? Have your say in the comments box below.

Find hundreds of enticing fruit and vegetable laden recipes in the 4Food recipes.

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