Healthy food, healthy mind
Eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day can have great benefits for physical health. But did you know that eating your greens can be as important for mental wellbeing?
That’s what researchers at the University of Leeds found when they analysed data from more than 40,000 people in the UK. Their study revealed that snacking on one extra portion of fruit or veg per day could have an effect on mental wellbeing as around eight days of walking a month, for at least 10 minutes each time.
With lack of time cited as one of the main reasons why people don’t eat enough fruit or veg, I’ve put together a list of five delicious-yet-simple ways you can incorporate more of the good stuff into your diet.
1. Don’t throw away leftover veggies
If you’re anything like me, you’ll always boil too many carrots or microwave enough peas to feed an army. Instead of throwing them in the bin, store them in the fridge and toss them into your next meal. Use leftover kale to pep up an omelette or stir cooked broccoli into a cheesy pasta. Check out the blog Cookie and Kate for lots more great ideas.
2. Make tasty swaps
Swap your usual toast toppers such as jam and butter for a mashed up banana, smashed avocado or crushed summer berries. Hummus sandwiches are also delicious and can be combined with tomato, pepper, cucumber or any other vegetable that might take your fancy.
3. Harness the power of the sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are packed full of nutrients and a good source of fibre. Bake or microwave, top with a little butter, and you’re on the way to a super healthy main dish, side or snack.
Sweet potato can also be used in any recipe that calls for white potatoes, be that shepherd’s pie, potato salad or potato wedges. They may alter the flavour and texture of the recipe, but they taste delicious and are lower in carbohydrates and calories.
4. Batch cook soup
Soup is a simple and effective way to sneak a variety of vegetables into your diet without having to try too hard. Whip up a large batch on Sunday night and take it to work for lunch throughout the week.
Most veggies can be roughly chopped and thrown in without much thought, but save yourself the stress of chopping up butternut squash by buying the pre-cut chunks. I’m a big fan of this warming spiced carrot and lentil soup from BBC Good Food.
5. Pump up the flavour
Cooked vegetables without any butter or seasoning are plain boring. Try mixing and matching the following tastes and textures for some mouthwatering veggie sides:
- sea salt
- olive oil
- pine nuts
- sesame seeds
- feta cheese
- parmesan cheese
- fresh herbs
- spice blends.