There can’t be many of us who don’t know that we need to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to benefit our health – but many of us still find this a challenge to do.
Fortunately, there’s a huge variety of lesser-known fruit and veg that’s just as good for you, but can introduce a little variety to your healthy, balanced diet.
Investigate your local supermarket or market to see what they have on offer.
Ring the changes and buy different fruits so when you are tempted to snack you are more likely to reach for the fruit bowl and not the biscuit tin. If you’ve more of a savoury tooth, why not keep batton carrots and cherry or plum tomatoes in the fridge to munch on?
- Eat sharon fruit like a peach when firm, or blend soft ones with yogurt.
- Papaya, or pawpaw, is a tropical fruit shaped like a pear. When ripe, its skin is a deep yellow or orange with sweet and fragrant flesh, similar to a peach. Add to a fruit salad or simply slice and enjoy.
- Pomegranate’s shiny, leathery skin contains pulpy seeds that are either pale pink or deep crimson in colour, held together by pith – don’t eat this; it’s very bitter. Use the seeds of this versatile fruit – which is popular in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking – in desserts or savoury dishes for burst of sweetness the healthy way.
Meal times can be a fantastic opportunity to pack in more fruit and vegetables. When you are making family favourites like spag bol and lasagne and using tomato puree, one heaped tablespoon counts as one of your ‘five a day’, so use liberally.
- Cavolo nero, or black cabbage, is part of the brassica family. Try it in soups and salads, or with meat and fish.
- Fennel is bulb-like in shape and has a strong aniseed flavour, and crisp texture. Eat it raw in salads, or cook it to tone down the flavour.
- Broccoflower is a cross between green cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli, which stands out for its spiky, green head. It tastes sweeter than broccoli or cauliflower, but you can cook it in the same way.
- Samphire has vibrant green stalks similar to baby asparagus. It has a crisp texture and tastes of the sea. Try it with seafood dishes. Boil or steam for a few minutes before serving.
- Kohlrabi is a bulbous, pale green brassica. It has a mild and sweet flavour, and crispy texture. Try roasting, steaming or stir-frying it. Or try it sliced up and added to salads – blanchthe slices in boiling water first.
- Daikon is a mild, white radish, which is shaped like a carrot, and is popular in Japanese, Chinese, and Indian cuisine. Daikon can be eaten raw or cooked, and will add a peppery kick to salads and stir-fries.
Try these recipes
Sticking to a healthy, balanced diet can sometimes seem like a slog. You might find yourself stuck in a rut, recycling the same few recipes. So, for something new, try these tasty recipes that are packed full of veggies.
Salmon on fennel ratatouille
Serves 1 • gluten free • prep: 10 minutes • cook: 15 minutes • 5 portions of fruit & veg per serving
- dash olive oil
- 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- good pinch dried oregano
- pinch salt and pepper
- 2 fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
- ½ small head of fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 salmon fillet
- 2 tbsp water
- fresh basil leaves, to serve
- Put the oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the onion and stir for 2–3 minutes until it softens.
- Now add the yellow pepper and stir regularly for 3–4 minutes.
- Add the garlic, oregano, seasoning, tomatoes and fennel. Stir for 2 more minutes and bring to a simmer.
- Place the salmon on top of the ratatouille, add the water and cover with a lid or with foil. Simmer gently for 4–5 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through.
- Remove the salmon, stir a few torn fresh basil leaves into the ratatouille and serve.
307Kcal – 25.4g protein – 21.9g carbs (17.7g sugars) – 14g fat ( 2.4g saturates) – 1.2g salt
Serves 4 • gluten free • vegetarian • prep: 10 minutes • cook: 20 minutes
- ½ tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 leek, trimmed, cleaned and finely chopped
- 2 heaped tsp ground cumin
- ½ tbsp chilli flakes
- pinch salt
- 175g quinoa, rinsed in a sieve
- 500ml boiling water
- 100g ready-prepared pomegranate seeds
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 50g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- juice and grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Add the sunflower oil to a saucepan, then add the red onion and red pepper, stirring regularly for 3 minutes.
- Now add the leek, cumin, chilli flakes, salt, quinoa and boiling water. Mix together well, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- When cooked, transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Fluff with a fork, mix in the pomegranate, pumpkin seeds, coriander, lemon juice and zest, and the olive oil. Divide between 4 bowls and serve.
Per serving 256Kcal – 10g protein – 36.2g carbs ( 12.1g sugars) – 9.8g fat ( 1.2g saturates) – 0.4g salt