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The right fruit and vegetables in your five-a-day mix

Fri, 16 April, 2021

It’s not enough anymore to mind your five-a-day, it appears. Now you have to also get the right combination of the five, and any random veg or fruit may not always make the grade! Whatever next? Isn’t it hard enough already to quit thinking chips count as one of five?

A new study confirms that five-a-day is the way to health and longevity, with the recommended split of 2 fruit and 3 veg. Not just any veg though: peas or sweetcorn don’t count being too starchy so the question of potatoes needn’t be even asked. Leafy greens, berries and citrus, carrots and beetroot seem to lead the pack and I’m also guessing there aren’t any prizes for eating five bananas a day.

So I’m going to throw some ideas around this week to increase our intake and perhaps find some new ways for old beet. There should be actually new season beets so that’s only a figure of speech. Get a bunch and make sure you keep the leaves. Beet leaves can be cooked in exactly the same way as spinach or chard, or to make a lovely beet leaf tart for instance. The beetroot are incredibly good to eat raw so make a herby beetroot salad with the bulbs. And if you prefer them cooked, here’s the twice roasted beetroot recipe.

The other recommendations are for spinach, radish and carrots so here goes: spinach casserole with cheese can be a delicious main dish while buttered spinach a perfect side for steak. Cooked fondant carrots or raw zingy carrot salad? Your choice. And don’t forget radish in the Persian style herby salad.

Local strawberries will be around soon hopefully, to put in the overnight oats for breakfast, apart from snacking on them by a handful, as I’m wont to do come spring. It’s the best season for healthy eating!

What to go with all those vegetables? Spring lamb chops for instance, or simple baked salmon fillets with maple glaze. And for pudding there must be rhubarb fool at least once in the season!

Baking idea this week is Ottolenghi’s pistachio and cherry tart which takes a little effort but pays off tenfold: it’s the queen of tarts. Or you could make a batch of shortbread date bars; good for dessert or mid-morning snack.

I know we are all utterly tired of cooking every day – I am! Really looking forward to going out to eat, but until that’s possible to be a common occurrence, we need to keep safe and keep cooking. Until next week!