Mays Al-Ali of HealthyMays.com is a nutritionist and yoga teacher based in London who, regularly teaches her clients that they should be aiming for 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day – rather than the 5 we are used too. Mays comments that fruits and vegetables are not only a great source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals but they are also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help keep you regular, and eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies can help decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers – but how can you easily double your quota a day?
Here at Mays’s top tips:
Aim for at least 3 portions in every meal! Generally, one portion of fruit or vegetable is equal to about one-half cup (sliced or chopped) or 80g. But greens like spinach, kale and lettuce have a serving size equal to one full cup. A single piece of fruit, such as an apple or an orange or banana also counts as one serving.
Make sure all your fruit and veg is organic and seasonal where possible. There are so many toxins in our food chain that non-organic vegetables and fruit puts an extra burden on our poor livers for detoxification. A good time saving way to help with this is by signing up to an Able & Cole, Riverford or Farmdrop local delivery service, all their fruit and veg is organic and seasonal and it will help you get creative with your cooking in using up the variety of different fruit and veg that get delivered. Or try shopping at your local farmers markets which often sell organic produce. Eating seasonally is also so important to get the most nutrients in our fruit and vegetables when they are naturally meant to grow.
Smoothies are a super tasty & easy way of getting 3 or more of your 10 a day in one hit! Green smoothies are a staple in the Healthy Mays household. Plus they are super quick to make in the morning and they make a really satisfying and stabilizing breakfast. Just make sure to keep portions in check on the fruit and work in some healthy fat and protein. If numbers are helpful, aim for at least 2 parts veggies to 1 part fruit. You can use frozen greens or berries if fresh isn’t available or convenient. Also, don’t be afraid to get weird with your mix-ins. If you’re a smoothie bowl or nice cream fan, I think you’ll love this: frozen riced cauliflower or steamed sweet potato in a smoothie which give your smoothie a rich creamy texture. And you still get to reap all those cauliflower nutritional benefits like fibre, B-vitamins, and potassium as well as beta-carotene from the sweet potato.
Vegetable soups are a great way to boost your daily vegetable content, plus the best bit is you can batch cook, making large amounts and freeze for later for when you are on the run and don’t have time to prepare a meal. Beans and pulses count as one portion too (doesn’t matter the if you have more than one type in one day it still only counts as one portion as they don’t have quite as many antioxidants as fruit and vegetables). So, a nice hearty vegetable bean soup is a winner!
Juices are also good to increase your nutrient status however I don’t personally recommend fruit juice as the natural sugars in fruit juices are very high with the fibre (in the pulp) removed. And make sure the juices are fresh! Did you know that after 10 minutes a freshly squeezed juice loses most of its antioxidants and vitamins and minerals? Soon as its exposed to air the nutrients are oxidised. Same goes for cut fruit and veg (never buy pre-packaged fruit and veg as for the same reason they are low in vitamin and mineral content due to oxidation). My fave Healthy Mays juice combo is kale (or spinach), celery, cucumber, lemon and ginger – contains at least 4 of your 10 a day plus super alkalising and vitamin and mineral rich without causing that blood sugar spike. You just have to train your taste buds to not miss the sweet! Invest in a cold press juicer, they are super cheap these days and it will take 5 minutes to wizz up.
Raw veg sushi – I love raw vegetable sushi! So easy to make and a great way to boost your fruit and veg intake. You just need a food processor and you can whizz up cauliflower or even broccoli rice in minutes and then wrap in some nori and stuff with whatever you like! I flavour my vegetable rice with some tamari sauce, sesame oil, tahini, rice vinegar & a tiny bit of coconut sugar and my favourite filling is avocado, shiitake mushrooms marinated in tamari sauce & kimchi. Takes about 15 minutes to make & full of raw vegetable antioxidant goodness & enzymes and I promise you, you wont miss the white rice!
Salads! They are so quick to throw together and they definitely don’t have to be boring! You can pimp your salad and make it exciting with any protein you like, half an avocado or olives as healthy fats and a variety of dark green leafy vegetables and crunchy veg. My go to dressing is olive oil, organic apple cider vinegar with the mother, lemon juice & wholegrain mustard – super nutritious and delicious. You can also add in some miso or tahini for a richer yummy dressing. Don’t want just salad for dinner? Then make a side salad ahead of your main and eat it first so you can digest the raw food first and get the maximum enzyme and nutrient absorption.
If you’d like more Healthy Mays top tips, sign up to her newsletter on www.healthymays.com for more info or send her a message for a free 15 minute exploratory call or to book in a consultation.