We've all heard the many, many benefits of eating a diet full of fresh fruits and veggies, but sometimes it's easier said than done.
If you've been counting the tomato sauce on your takeaway pizza as one of your five-a-day lately, it might be time to overhaul your diet a little.
Here are a few simple ways to pack more fruits and vegetables into your day without even noticing…
1. Start your day off with a green smoothie
There's no easier way to load up on nutrients before even leaving the house. Green smoothies are so simple to make with a blender or juicer, and as long as you add enough fruit they'll taste as sweet and tangy as a regular smoothie. Try around 60% fruit to 40% green leafy vegetables (spinach and kale are great options), then add ice or water and blend.
2. Swap standard pasta and rice for veggie versions
Trust us, you won't miss those carbs. Get yourself a spiral slicer, Spiraliser or mandolin slicer and thinly slice courgette or squash in place of wheat spaghetti. The veggies soak up flavours and sauce in the same way standard pastas do, so your meal will be just as moreish as before. In place of rice, try mashed or riced cauliflower. Steam and mash cauliflower with a knob of butter, or rice it by pulsing or grating and then gently sautéeing.
3. Load up your pasta sauce
Homemade pasta sauce takes about five minutes to make – simply chop some tomatoes and blend with a teaspoon of tomato purée before heating up or stirring through hot pasta. The best thing about making your own sauce – apart from the amazing taste – is that you can add as many veggies as you like. Dice up some carrots, courgettes, onions, mushrooms – whatever you like, really – and either add them in whole or blend them with the sauce.
4. Make one day meatless
Choose one day a week as your Meatless Day, and aim to fill up on beans, pulses, fruit and vegetables instead. Knowing your lunch and dinner have to be meat free is a great way to motivate you to search out new veggie recipes.
5. Liven up your side dishes
Rice, quinoa, cous-cous, and other side dishes don't have to be bland and plain. Stir through some chopped nuts, pomegranate seeds, finely chopped onions and tomatoes, thinly sliced radish, torn coriander or mint… anything to brighten up your side dishes and add texture and taste.
6. Snack wisely
Keep fruit and vegetable snacks on hand to stop you reaching for the biscuits come the 3pm slump. As well as the obvious ones – apples, oranges, carrot sticks – try some blueberries or raspberries, a fruit smoothie, dried mango or dried apricots.