If you reckon a meal’s not a proper meal without some kind of meat in it, you’re not alone. But with vegetables playing such a crucial role in a nutritious, balanced diet, it’s often a good idea to make a few days a week meat-free – and seeing how that makes you feel.
As we get older, our energy levels and appetite tend to change. So if you’re not eating as much as before, what you do eat needs to be rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and ‘good’ fats. A diet based mainly on starchy foods such as potatoes, whole-grain bread, rice and pasta, along with plenty of fruit, vegetables and nuts, ticks all the healthy boxes and provides your essential ‘five-a-day’. And whether they’re raw, cooked, sliced, diced, stewed, mashed or puréed – enjoying vegetarian food is easier than you think.
1. Eat the rainbow
From lowering the risk of heart disease and obesity, to keeping your eyes and skin in tip-top condition – the more brightly coloured the fruits and vegetables the better for you. Choose from a rainbow of citrus fruits, red and purple berries, kiwis, papayas, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, bell peppers and peas. These are all high in Vitamin C and zinc, which help support the immune system and fight infection. Apples also contain lots of antioxidants, mostly in the skin of the fruit, while other anti-ageing micro-nutrients, including Vitamin E and manganese, can be found in superfoods such as kale, chard, spinach, watercress, romaine lettuce and rocket.
2. Aim for five to seven portions every day
It’s been shown that eating around five to seven portions a day of fruit and vegetables is best for your general health and helps prevent disease. Dried, tinned, fresh and even juice, all count. As a rough guide, a typical portion should fit in the palm of your hand. That might be two plums, three apricots, seven strawberries or 14 cherries. For larger fruit – one apple, pear, nectarine or banana. When it comes to vegetables, a single portion could be one medium tomato, two broccoli spears, four heaped tablespoons of cooked kale or three heaped tablespoons of cooked carrots or sweetcorn. And a single 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice counts as one portion.
For those days when you’re not feeling particularly hungry, our Mini Meals are the perfect way to enjoy a delicious vegetarian dish without risking leftovers to throw away. Try our Mediterranean style Mini Asparagus, Lemon & Basil Risotto or Mini Cheese & Broccoli Pasta.
3. Know your good from your bad fats
Fats are essential for our whole body, including the brain, to function properly. We also need them to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Certain fats should only be eaten in small quantities or occasionally, such as the saturated kind found in full-fat dairy products and red meat. The real nasties, such as Hydrogenated Trans-Fats, should be avoided altogether, which is why you won’t find them in our frozen ready meals.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 help strengthen your cell membranes, plump the skin and prevent inflammation. But we can only get them from the food we eat, such as nuts, seeds, avocados, fortified eggs and olive oil. So nibble on a handful of walnuts and almonds every day, which are a rich source of antioxidants and protein too. And why not tuck into our Nut & Mushroom Roast for a savoury, nutty dinner.
Once you start including more vegetarian food in a diet, you’ll soon start feeling the health benefits. And another great thing about our delicious and varied selection of vegetarian dishes, is that our chefs have done the hard work for you – preparing all the fresh ingredients that go in them. Simply visit our shop to place your order, or ask for a free brochure here.