Best Ways to Get Your Five a Day

Does fast food taste better?

Healthy eating can be boring, and time consuming. Where’s the proof that all that abstinence is worthwhile? Pizzas, pies, fish-suppers, kebabs, and curries from the take-away are quick and easy, and they taste better - especially after a beer or two; or do they?

Gratification - now!

If we go out-on-the-town with the lads, (or lassies) the effect of the alcohol is almost immediate: we drink, and get merry. Why can’t we abstain and get healthy with the same up-front gratification? We have to wait months or years, to see if we’ll suit, our new slim and healthy look. Meanwhile we have to prepare daily, and then nibble fastidiously on rabbit’s food. No wonder dieting doesn’t last, for some of us. If we’re going to give up these pleasures, we want to see, and taste the benefits - now.

A ritual of lettuce washing and broccoli boiling.

When we come home after a day of traffic mayhem, the irritating idiosyncrasies of our colleagues, clients, customers, and bullying bosses - is a plate of lettuce any kind of reward? If an Englishman’s home is his castle, is it any place for him to pursue the ritual of lettuce washing, broccoli boiling and the preparation of salt free, fat free, taste free… whatever?

Sometimes all we really want to do is collapse into a sort of psychological foetal position and be good to ourselves; like no one else will.

After all the sacrifice, there’s no guarantee that a bus won’t knock us over the following morning (or that, on such a diet, we mightn’t wish for it to happen). And, if we succeed with our healthy eating, do we really live longer, or does life just feel - so - o - much - longer?

A few healthy-eating tricks

Whatever you think about all that, if you’d like to change your eating habits, here are a few little tricks that might help. It won’t be quicker than slapping a few oven chips (French fries) and fish fingers onto a tray and into the oven. It won’t taste the same either. (It might taste better.) However, your health will definitely benefit.

Guardian Angel

Try to find some extra time in the morning to do the basic preparation for your evening meal. You’ll be more objective about the entire thing. You’re not tired, you’re not hungry, and it’s just like preparing food for someone else. That someone else is you - but you in a different frame of mind. When you get home you are tired and hungry, and your guardian angel has fixed your evening meal for you, already. Now you have to eat it! You must! You can’t let your guardian angel down - can you?

Tired and hungry - excuse

That’s the tired-and-hungry excuse sorted. Now, we can deal with the blandness of healthy food, and the hankering for a nice greasy pie.

A greasy pie will do you no harm, occasionally. However, you can put plenty of healthy flavourings, spices, and oils into your vegetables. Try to remember that when you stop using salt, you’ll soon stop missing it. Health shops, and the larger supermarkets, stock seasonings like Garam Masala, Tikka Powder, Tandoori Masala, Cajun Spice, Fajita Seasoning, and Five Spice. Keep a bag of each going so you can have a different flavour daily. Don’t overdo it. Some of these spice mixes are a bit too hot for children, and remember to check the label for salt content.

Lemon juice or salt ‘n’ vinegar?

You can cut out vinegary sauces and ketchups in your diet by using lemon juice. It’s also a good substitute for salt. Add it after the cooking process so that you don’t kill the vitamin C. Tomato puree is great for adding flavour, and you’ll get a good daily dose of vitamin A from tomato puree. Cooking helps with the body’s absorption of vitamin A, whereas heat destroys vitamin C.

Mustard, eggs, and omega oils

Don’t forget mustard. Jars of ready mixed mustard are processed and not so natural as mustard powder, but a little vinegar and salt won’t hurt.

Eggs are good - and no longer held responsible for high cholesterol levels. Pack as much green vegetables as you can into an omelette. If you must cook your vegetables, lightly sweat them in a little olive oil, then add some mustard or your favourite spice mix to enhance the flavour. You can make a simple and quick frittata in the microwave. Beat the eggs and milk in with flavourings like mustard or spice mixes and pour it all over the raw vegetables. The eggs will cook more quickly than the vegetables (if you don’t chop the vegetables too finely) and that’ll preserve the vitamins.

‘Good Oil’

You can get cold-pressed omega oils quite cheaply now (for brain, nervous system, and joints). Mixed with lemon juice and mustard, and thickened with soy flour, it makes a nice cheesy kind of spread. If you want to sweeten it a bit for the children, mix in some banana. Tesco (UK) has a good-value bottle of ‘Good Oil’ for about a fiver (£5).The old adage ‘good food won’t keep’ applies here. Always try to add it uncooked, at the last minute. It’ll add lustre to your vegetable dishes (and you).

It’s best to prepare food just before eating, but it’s not always practical - especially if you’re preparing it in the morning. Add the green vegetables, omega oils, and vitamin Cs just before serving, and uncooked for best nutrition. If you do the basic preparation in the morning, don’t forget to refrigerate.

Mirepoix

The French use the fancy word ‘mirepoix’ to describe a base for a lot of their soups, sauces, and casseroles. It’s traditionally a ‘trilogy’ of diced carrots, onions, and celery - lightly sweated. However, you can add what you like. A little fresh, finely chopped root ginger gives it a bit of a kick. Spice-mix and plenty of tomato puree is a good combination to add to a mirepoix. Another good combination is mustard, lemon juice and mashed banana. The lemon juice will preserve the banana’s light colour for longer if you mix them together. Add your fresh green vegetables to that combination and you’ll never hanker for greasy pies and pizzas again.

No Time?

If you don’t have the time to make a mirepoix, you can slap together some quick, healthy sauces. A couple of tablespoons of tomato puree added to any of your favourite seasonings will mask the blandness of raw broccoli, Brussels, or cabbage. If you want to sweeten it - add a mashed banana, or use a blender to puree any other fruits you have available. Tomato puree blended with lightly cooked Brussels sprouts, fresh basil, and some fruit and spices, makes a good pizza topping. However, go easy with the cheese. If you need a lighter coloured sauce, use your mustard, lemon juice, and banana combination with some chopped root ginger and a lighter seasoning like Tikka. Add some omega oil for lustre.

Things to remember

Try to have as much of your meal planned and prepared in advance; try not to be tired and hungry at the same time; never shop when you’re tired and hungry. Keeping these points in mind should help to put junk foods behind you (rather than on your behind).

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Comments 20 comments

Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

All excellent advice. I'm a great fan of soups and smoothies too. They're both quick and easy ways to access some of your 5-a-day. We also use hemp oil in salad dressings at home. it's not cheap, and you do have to keep it in the fridge, but it has all the omega EFAs in it, so it's all good.


amillar profile image

amillar 7 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Hi Amanda. Thanks for the comment. I see you’re a fellow Brit. I used to get hemp oil from Julian Graves’, but they don’t seem to have it anymore. I just get ‘Good Oil’ from Tesco’s now. It probably doesn’t have the same concentration of essential oils as the hemp or flax oil, but it’s easy for me to get hold of it.


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 7 years ago from UK

Hi Amillar, I've been lucky enough to get it direct through our local farmer's market, but I've also seen it in health food stores. I don't know if Holland and Barrett stock it, but it's worth a try!


pgrundy 7 years ago

Great hub! I love vegetables and easily get 5 servings per day--It's really only 2.5 cups of veggies, which is about the size of a medium salad, so it isn't that difficult. If you don't like them I guess it is though. One neat trick is to put them in scrambled eggs or use on sandwiches instead of lettuce. Just slice them really thin. (I guess this won't work with corn or potatoes, but you get my drift.) I put grated carrots and squash in cakes too, makes 'em moist and you don't taste veggie. :)


amillar profile image

amillar 7 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Thanks Amanda. I’ll have a look in Holland and Barrett’s the next time I’m in that area.


amillar profile image

amillar 7 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Thanks for your comments Pam. One of the many good things about vegetables is you can eat as much as you like and never put on any weight.

I’ll be trying that idea with the scrambled eggs soon. I like mustard and broccoli on my sandwiches.


kartika damon profile image

kartika damon 7 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

I really enjoyed this and your tone is so refreshing - the way you describe the way we feel after a full day of work and of being in the world and our struggle to give up the instant gratification of greasy fast food is great! Kartika


amillar profile image

amillar 7 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Thanks for your comment Kartika.

The more I see of this world, the more convinced I am that health and happiness should be our main concerns. (I’m an old hippy too.) So taking the time to eat healthily comes high up in the agenda. After that, everything else in life should fall into place.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Good one, Amillar. And thanks for giving me the name of something I have done for years without even knowing it had a name - irepoix! I just have always done it when making soup. Don't even know where I got it from. Love soups and now that we are into winter they are very much the thing!

Love and peace

Tony


amillar profile image

amillar 6 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Well Tony, I learned to cook in the RAF, which is where I get the fancy French words, but that doesn't make my soup taste any better than yours. 'The proof of the...'

Thanks for looking in on me again.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

Good advice and I am finding how to get really full on some almost fat free meals. I have a new recipe for spinach dip I made up yesterday after eating some from the store so full of salt and fat, soon as I get all the whats in it down I will do a hub on it because it is fantastic! That is what I am striving for, because who is going to stay on a blah diet and I am getting out the bike too, that should help! Oh and look at those frozen fries, some with the same name brand are loaded with salt and only one I have found only has 25mg compared to hundreds! Salt is a real enemy especially to me I think more than fat. Good hub!


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Hi Jackie - that spinach dip sounds good and healthy. They say spinach is full of iron. Sometimes fresh ginger can put some flavour into a dish like that. Orange or lemon juice and zest can give these things a bit of a kick to them.

I look forward to seeing the recipe hub, but I don’t have a bike, so I’ll stick to my daily twenty minutes of step-ups. These food-processing companies are only interested in profit Jackie. We have to look after our own health interests.

Thanks for dropping by and commenting.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

Well I have a flat tire and it is looking like I will have to figure how to fix it myself. Really maybe it just has lost air because there is no cap on it and I think I have a cap of an older one. I am going to make spinach lasagna, just occurred to me a few days ago and use the wheat noodles. I made lasagna with ground chicken a few days ago though so will wait a few days. That was really good and after frying up the ground chicken there was barely any grease in it but I poured water heaping over it and brought that to a boil and poured it off. They said it was half the fat of ground beef (which I don't eat anymore) so I figure this got it close to none. Then I used no fat cottage cheese mixed with softened no fat cream cheese and just stirred it in with the chicken and tomato sauce with a bare sprinkle of Moz cheese the last ten minutes on top and I am guessing that was about the best almost no fat dish I ever ate. Oh and those can be made up in casserole covered dishes and frozen. I use to do it with the hamburger years ago when I was running a business and teaching my two kids myself so I really used ideas like that all I could. Now it just has to be refigured with less fat and salt.

I am really laughing, after putting this I went back to the top and saw 21 months ago...I said "What?!" I wasn't here 21 months ago, I thought I was in the twilight zone. Then I figured it out. Long day...

Thought I did that recipe on dip, if I didn't I will get right on it


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Hi Jackie - that's the kind of thing I do; I just substitute what I think is the healthier ingredients for the less healthy ones - like chicken for beef and low fat cheese for the regular cheese. I bet you're jumping with health and vitality with all that healthy food. I wish I could say the same for me.

I suppose the internet is like a twilight zone with all these strange names and avatars.


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

For sure, I often forget who I am today, have made a couple of slips but no one has caught up with me yet. lol I do have the dip ingredients altogether just have to put it in a sensible form then thought I should do a Memorial Day poem, do you guys have Mem Day?


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

If we have a Memorial Day, they've forgotten to tell me Jackie. We have a Remembrance Day in November, to remember the fallen in all these wars that keep going on.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

A fantastic hub - informative and so well-written. I love my veggies and often my entire meal is a big plate of vegetables. Thanks so much for sharing this! Rated UP.


amillar profile image

amillar 5 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

Hiya vocalcoach,

Thank you for visiting, and for voting this up - and for the kind and encouraging comment. I eat a lot of vegetables too, and seldom eat meat, so I fill up on veggies too.


tonymead60 profile image

tonymead60 3 years ago from Yorkshire

amillar

good hub, interersting, funny and other buttons, voted up.

I enjoyed the read, being retired time is not of the essence, but when I did have to work, I found just doing some preparation was the key to not taking the easy option of call for a take away. I made everything at the start of the week and froze it for later.

regards

Tony


amillar profile image

amillar 3 years ago from Scotland, UK Author

That's a good strategy tonymead60. When we get home from a hard day it's far too easy to reach for the fast food. They say this, that and the other is 'the best thing since sliced bread'. I say the freezer's best of all.

Thanks for reading and commenting. All the best.

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