What does 5 a day really mean?

There appears to be some confusion over ‘what constitutes 5 a day. Some of the common examples over the years has been eating 3 pieces of fruit during the day and 2 portions of vegetables for dinner. Or eating fruits in one sitting and vegetables later or vice versa, and the list goes on, I won’t bore you any further. Quite frankly, I am not surprised people are put off the whole idea or simply frustrated; or just lack motivation to adopt a 5 day as part of their eating habits, some say its boring, hard work cumbersome, etc.
I am glad that ‘legitimate’ information has now been provided, in other words, a lot more clearer.  But there is a debate on how to make 5 a day more appealing to fussy eaters and kids who don’t like fruits or vegetables, the most popular suggestion is hiding it in their food. So how do you achieve that? See below for my ‘two bits worth’ of tips:

– ‘hide’ veggies such as celery, carrots, courgettes (zucchini) in your cooking. Eg; pasta sauces, curries, etc. Trust me it’s absolutely delicious, especially in pasta. I don’t want to suggest peas because I have seen kids literally pick this out of their food, just go with colourful veggies that way they don’t notice it too much.

–  include tomatoes, lettuce, spinach or other types of leafy vegetables in your sandwiches, omelettes-  fresh/frozen and canned fruits can be added to cereals; plain yogurt; smoothies;  the latter is perfect for on the go breakfast* – dried fruits such as raisins and currants can be eaten as a snack but according to experts, this should only be consumed (a handful) at meal times as they can rot your teeth. Now this was a new one for me, as I have always had dried fruits as snacks at work, needless to say I no longer eat it. – the jury is still out on  beans, legumes,lentils as they are not considered to have enough nutrients, in other words, it’s just a tiny portion. However, this should not stop you adding it to your cooking, as it is a good source of protein and gives ‘volume’ to your meals
Getting your 5 a day is fun, you don’t have to limit it to cereals or in cooked meals, it can be delicious as a snack. Eg:  sliced apples as a dip with peanut butter; celery or carrot in hummus, etc.

*Link to my ebook – Breakfast on the go for Busy People.


Been Healthy in 2020

I don’t need to tell you what happens when a new year begins – new year resolutions. Most of which are usually centred around a healthy lifestyle. This is the time of year that the dieting and gym industry make their money, this is not the purpose of this blog. I prefer to say goals rather than resolution because it means I am being true to myself.

Making goals is very important if you want to embark on a healthy lifestyle in the new year. Permit me to share my tips based on my personal experience.

  • Make realistic goals, know what you are capable, forgot about others or what they may think of your goals. You are doing this for you and not anyone else.
  • Seek medical advice so you are heading on the right path. If it doesn’t go in line with your list, don’t be disappointed, follow the advice as your body can do only do so much.
  • Start small, in other words, baby steps.
  • Set a meal plan – I wrote about this in full details in one of my previous posts.
  • Exercise and healthy eating goes hand in hand. You can’t seperate the two, just how many days a week you exercise.
  • Record your progress.
  • Evaluate
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon, just pick up yourself and get back on the journey. I regard the healthy lifestyle as a journey, as it is for life not a season.
  • Celebrate every milestone, no matter how small.
  • Reward yourself – it doesn’t have to be anything expensive or monetary, just something you like.

I hope you find this post useful, there are no short cuts to a healthy lifestyle. Fad diets, supplements, drinks are only for a season, this could be discouraging and dangerous as it has been known to lead to health issues.

Let me know how you are getting by posting a comment or getting in touch with me.

Healthy Eating substitutes

It never ceases to amaze me the reaction I get when I tell some people, the healthy substitutes I use in my cooking and baking. The reaction (I mention the sub for an ingredient), is ‘weird’, ‘ tasteless’ , boring’, and the list goes.

Let me just clarify, food subs are not boring or tasteless. In my experience I have found some foods more tastier/more delicious than the ‘original’, i makes me wish I had discovered this sooner. I will be honest sometimes it doesn’t always work, so I try another sub, as the saying goes you never know until you try. Put another way its a case of trial and error.

There are quite a vast number of substitutes, I have listed the popular ones below. Personally I keep discovering new ones all the time. Think of the substitutes as a journey of discovery or a new adventure for your taste buds.

  • white rice replace with brown rice/ courgetti or cauliflower rice
  • white flour replace with wholemeal/buckwheat/spelt/rice
  • white pasta replace with wholemeal pasta
  • double/sour/single cream replace with natural/Greek low fat yoghurt or low fat creme frais
  • butter or oil in baking replace with applesauce (shop bought or homemade) or natural Greek yoghurt.
  • potatoes replace with sweet potatoes, butternut squash
  • spagetti replace with courgette/butternut noodles
  • streaky bacon replace with back bacon
  • water for sugary drinks, add lemon or fruits such as strawberries if you don’t like the taste of plain water.
  • fizzy drinks with soda water, add fruits or pure juice

If you want to snack without filling guility try this healthy option

Chopped vegetables and lower-fat hummus

Handful of raisins; sultanas. instead of chocolates or biscuits. You can still get your sugar fix but in moderation.

Handful of unsalted nuts – rich in fiber and a wide range of nutrients

Sugar free jelly – for a guilt free dessert

Plain rice cakes or crackers with hummus or natural nut butter

natural low fat yoghurt with chopped fruits

Bonus – healthy way to cook; use spray oil or dry fry using a good quality non stick frying pan.

As I mentioned earlier the ‘list’ is endless, you will discover your own alternatives as you go along. I hope you enjoy trying out the subs, like I said its a journey of discovery, keep experimenting with other foods.