Tuesday, 6 May 2014

How to increase the portions of fruits and vegetables in the athlete's diet

On the 1st of April 2014 the news headlines reported that eating seven or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day is healthier than the currently recommended five portions and would prolong lives by cutting the risk of dying from cancer and heart disease. 

An April Fool’s day joke to some, however, I have always encouraged athletes I have worked with to aim for a minimum of seven portions a day due to their increase in energy needs and the physiological demands of exercise. 

So what is a portion of fruit or vegetables?

Aim for a handful as a rule of thumb and other things to remember:
  • Fresher the better- try to consume fruit and vegetable produce in their most natural state
  • Wide Variety of fruits and vegetables 
  • Try to consume as many different colors as possible
Tips to help athletes do this:
  • Add fruits to breakfast cereals and desserts
  • Choose fruits and vegetables  as snacks- such as dried fruits, vegetable stick
  • Choose seasonal vegetables to help with freshness and cost
  • Swap a sandwich for soup- homemade soups can be a good way of getting lots of different types in one go
  • Fruit smoothies- again another way of including lots of different fruits in one go
  • So how about a simple recipe and a twist on a regular dish to help increase the number of fruit and vegetable portions in one meal? Also cooked in a slow cooker so that its ready for when you return home from training.
Spaghetti Bolognaise (Serves 2)

Ingredients

500g Lean Steak Mince
Wholemeal Pasta
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Red Onion
1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
500g Tomato Passata
1 Table spoon of Tomato Puree
Approx. 150gm Green Beans
100gms Baby Corn
100gms Button Mushrooms
(Or any 3 or 4 available vegetables of your choice, preferably of different colours.  Other options include carrots, parsnips, broccoli or peas)

Method
  •  Peel and finely chop the red onion and start to fry with the olive oil
  • Add the steak mince and fry with the onion until brown
  • Add the mince and the onion to the slow cooker and add remaining ingredients to the contents.
  • Leave to cook slowly throughout the day
When you return
  •  Cook pasta
  •   Season to taste
  •  Add bolognaise to pasta when cooked

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