Foodstuff

Last updated 07:54 13/11/2012

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"Five plus a day" is a phrase most of us are familiar with but do we truly understand its message and, more importantly, put it into practice?

November is 5+ADay month and you can celebrate by taking the 5+ADay challenge - add an extra serving of fresh fruit and vegetables to your day and feel the difference!

The 5+ADay programme encourages all New Zealanders to enjoy eating five or more colourful serves of fruit and vegetables every day for good health, taste and variety. Specifically, three or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit.

A serving is about a handful and, as you use your own hand, a child's serving will be smaller than an adult's.

Research shows that people who eat the most fruit and vegetables tend to have the healthiest body weight and gain less weight through their adult years.

They are also less likely to develop lifestyle conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Fruit and vegetables contain many of the vitamins (including antioxidants), minerals and phytochemicals (fight-o-chemicals) your body needs to maintain good health and energy.

They also protect against the effects of ageing. Many of these nutrients also give fruit and vegetables their colour - so mix up the colours to get a wide range of nutrients.

To reach the 5+ADay target, go with fresh fruit and vegetables that are in season.

Using frozen or tinned (for fruit, choose in juice rather than syrup) fruit and veges can be a convenient and economical way of increasing variety. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Breakfast:

Slice fruit over cereal;

Make fruit smoothies;

Have sliced tomatoes, cooked mushrooms, bananas or avocado on toast;

Add chopped vegetables to omelettes or scrambled eggs.

Lunch:

Prepare sliced cucumber, lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes and carrots for the family to make their own wraps, sandwiches and rolls;

Mix chopped fruit with low-fat yoghurt;

Stuff baked potatoes or kumara with diced tomato, corn, courgette, pineapple.

Dinner:

Pile tomato, onion, mushroom, and capsicum on to homemade or frozen pizzas;

Add lettuce, spinach, pineapple, tomato, beetroot and grated carrot to homemade burgers;

Stir chopped or grated vegetables such as carrots, courgettes, beans, spinach, silverbeet, puha, potatoes and kumara into mince dishes, soups, casseroles, rice and pasta dishes;

Mash parsnips, pumpkin or kumara with potatoes for variety;

Add chopped onion, mushroom and capsicum to your BBQ kebabs.

Encourage children to eat fruit and vegetables by introducing a wide variety to children from a young age.

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Eat fruit and vegetables yourself - your children are more likely to follow your lead.

Chop fruit and vegetables into child-friendly pieces - they will usually eat more this way.

Have your children help with shopping for fruit and vegetables and in meal preparation.

Try growing your own vegetables - you can't beat the fresh taste and kids love to get involved!

Make it fun - fruit kebabs make a great alternative to processed, high-sugar party snacks.

Try this yummy recipe below from the 5+A Day website - great for the party season.

For more tips and recipes check the following websites: 5aday.co.nz; vegetables.co.nz or the 5+ADay facebook page.

Prepared by Michelle Butler (BSc, Diploma in Dietetics) AVOCADO DIP WITH VEGETABLE STICKS

4 ripe avocados peeled and mashed

1 chilli finely chopped (optional)

Juice of 2 limes or lemons

1 small red onion finely chopped

Fresh coriander to taste

1 bulb of roasted garlic (optional)

4 small ripe tomatoes roughly chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Carrots, celery, capsicum cut into 10cm sticks

In a bowl mix the avocado, chilli, lime juice, onion, garlic and tomato. Season with salt and pepper then place in a small bowl as a dip and serve with the vegetable sticks.

- Taranaki Daily News

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