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Smoothies, soups and snacks: Easy ways to get your 5-a-day

There is no real mystery to healthy eating. If you formulate your diet according to a few fundamental principles, then this should ensure what you eat gives your body the best chance of remaining healthy.

One of those key rules is to always consume five-a-day - that is, five daily portions of fruit and/or vegetables. This is because they are extremely rich in all of the various vitamins and minerals that the body needs to carry out vital biological processes. Without these, deficiency diseases and other secondary ailments can develop.

Five portions may sound like a lot. However, just one apple or one banana counts as a portion, as do just three heaped tablespoons of cooked vegetables. And yet, some people find it hard to make sure they are hitting this target.

So, if you are one of those people who find you are not eating enough fruit and vegetables, what new ways might encourage you to do so?

Smoothies

They may seem like they would take a lot of effort to make, but for people who are not keen on gnawing on an apple once a day, smoothies are one of the most delicious ways to get more than one of your five-a-day in one fell swoop.

All you need to make them is a blender of sorts - whether that's hand-held or a standalone device - to mix up all of the different ingredients. You can have either fruit or vegetable drinks - or ones that contain a bit of both!

Once you have combined your various ingredients, top the mixture up with juice or yoghurt and blend it all together to make a delicious, antioxidant-filled, health-boosting beverage.

Popular combinations include:

- All kinds of berries - strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries
- Tropical-flavoured fruits - mangoes, passion fruit, kiwi, papaya
- Peaches, nectarines, satsumas, oranges
- Carrots, oranges, ginger
- Bananas, coconut, pineapple

You can even have fun experimenting and combining different flavours to see what you come up with. Apple, spinach and avocado green smoothies? Why not?

Soups

Soup is a great way to tick off more than one hearty portion of vegetables and is much easier to make than people may think. Furthermore, at a time when many household budgets are coming under strain, making soup en masse can be an extremely cheap way to feed several mouths in comparison to expensive - and unhealthy - takeaways and ready meals.

Take a pan of stock - this can be homemade or put together from a stock cube - and add all of your vegetables to it. You can also add other flavours like herbs and spices. Let the vegetables cook in the tasty stock and, once they are soft, use a stick blender to pulp it all. Season with salt and pepper, and that is all there is to it. You may want to add a dollop of creme fraiche or a swirl of cream to each bowl once you serve it up, especially if it is a little spicy.

Popular combinations include:

- Carrot and coriander
- Leek and potato
- Broccoli and stilton
- Butternut squash, parsnip, turnip, swede

Snacks

Unhealthy snacks are the downfall of many individuals who struggle to eat well - crisps, biscuits and cakes are adding inches to waistlines the country over. 

However, if you can learn to change your snacking habits, you could find yourself consuming many more portions of fruit and vegetables every single day, without even realising you are doing so. 

Carrot, cucumber and celery sticks are an extremely popular snack. If you don't like the taste, you could enjoy them with some low-fat hummus or another dip of your choosing. Similarly, enjoying a mid-morning mashed banana with some yoghurt is infinitely preferable to hitting the vending machine. 

While it may feel hard work at first, once you get into a routine of nibbling on the healthy stuff, it will become easier not to slip back into your old ways.ADNFCR-438-ID-801696764-ADNFCR

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