Happy Food Dance: Easy fruit and veg swaps

Peas making a smiley face on a plate

By Morwenna Kearns

Incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your diet doesn't have to mean extra cost, calories or trips to the supermarket (snore). Do a Happy Food Dance by replacing standard ingredients or treats with plant-based ones and see those portions add up.

Swaps lentils

Beat it, mince

Mince, be it meat, soya or Quorn, can be easily replaced with red lentils in dishes like spaghetti bolognese, chilli and cottage pie. Lentils need more cooking time, more seasoning and lots more water, but three tablespoons will count as one portion so it's well worth the teeny bit of extra effort.

Swaps frozen

Make fruit your sweet treat

This is an easy one: if you fancy something sweet after a meal try swapping biscuits for some fruit. Exotic and short-season fruit and berries are increasingly available frozen; thaw some shop-bought frozen mango or strawberries for your dessert, or heat up some cooking apples with a big pinch of cinnamon for an apple crumble-like pudding.

Swaps spiralize

Get the spiraliser out from under the sink

As much as I like twizzly food, as a carb devotee I'm personally not the biggest fan of spiralised veg replacing a full plate of pasta or noodles. But swapping perhaps half of your spaghetti for some spiralised courgette or soba for carrot is a tasty compromise. Get a portion from half a courgette or three tablespoons of carrots – or mix 'em up for a multicolour melange.

Swaps sundried

You are the sun-dried of my life

Just four sun-dried tomatoes counts as one portion and oh, the flavours! Instead of grated cheese, chop some up and top off of your pasta dish with these sunny jewels. They add a particular flavour pop to penne with vegan pesto (cook it with frozen spinach for another veg portion) and usually come in a lovely garlicky oil you can drizzle over it all too.

Swaps mulled

It could be Christmas every day

One of the many excellent things about Christmas is mulled drinks, but you don't need to wait till December. Try heating apple, grape or orange juice with some spices to sip on a chilly evening in place of a cuppa.

Use #HappyFoodDance on social media to share your favourite fruit and veg ideas!

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