Did You Go Nuts for Fruit and Veg for National Vegetarian Week last week!

Did You Go Nuts for Fruit and Veg for National Vegetarian Week last week!

Go Nuts for Fruit and Veg

The latest recommendation, that we should be eating 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, prompted a variety of responses – mostly groans – particularly as only 8% of teenagers and about a third of adults actually manage to meet the 5-A-Day target. [1]

Fruit and vegetables are brimming with essential vitamins and minerals, a variety of phytochemicals, gut healthy fibre and are naturally low in calories, so it makes sense to pack more into our everyday diet  – and it’s actually not as hard as you might think.

Ahead of National Vegetarian Week (15-21 May), State Registered Dietitian, Helen Bond, provides her advice on how to painlessly up your fruit and veg intake:

“Whilst consuming more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day may be desirable, the reality is that for many people this is unrealistic and unachievable. However, there are simple food swaps and changes we can make to improve our daily diet, whilst still keeping our taste buds satisfied.”

Helen Bond’s Top Tips to Increase Fruit and Veg intake:

  1. Go nuts – It’s easy to add tasty plant-based ingredients to liven up a green salad – it doesn’t have to be all vegetables. A handful of toasted, caramelised or plain California walnuts will add a variety of texture and they’re also energy giving nutritional powerhouses. Packed with good fats, essential omega-3s and lots of vitamins and minerals, they contribute to a healthy, balanced diet
  1. Replace potatoes – Potatoes, yam and plantain don’t contribute towards your 5-A-Day as they are starchy food, so try replacing or supplementing potatoes with different vegetables. Mashed parsnip, sweet potato, carrot, and butternut squash are all brilliant – mashed carrot and swede is a winning combination, which is both nutritious and delicious
  1. Double up – In most recipes, particularly soups, stews, curries, casseroles and pizzas, you can double the veg without altering the dish or letting the kids know about it. An extra handful of peas, beans or lentils, chopped up mushrooms or doubling the leafy greens adds both flavour, texture and nutrients


  1. Grate away – Grate your favourite vegetable or fruit and sprinkle it over your meal for an Instagram-friendly and healthier dish


  1. Get spiralising –Instead of spaghetti to accompany your bolognese, spiralise carrots or courgettes into ‘courgetti’– a much speedier and fun process than boiling handfuls of weighty pasta. Cucumbers also make beautiful ribbons for salads, and parsnips are great for making röstis or fries
  1. Ditch your elevenses biscuits – Opt for a handful of dried fruit instead, like apricots, dates, raisins and currants etc. A 30g portion counts towards your 5-A-Day and is a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth
  1. Keep your freezer and cupboards well stocked – They’re a convenient alternative to fresh varieties, stay fresher for longer and despite any confusion, they all count towards your 5-A-day
  1. Eat a rainbow – Variety is important; as different coloured fruits and vegetables contain their own unique combo of nutrients. To get the most benefit, try to eat one portion from each colour group. Choose from red, green, yellow, white, purple and orange varieties of fruits and vegetables


  1. Go for those in season – Locally grown produce offers value for money and picked at their peak of ripeness, they often look and taste the best – just as nature intended


  1. Start the day with a glass of unsweetened 100% pure fruit or vegetable juice – Hydrate after the overnight fast with a 150ml glass which counts as a portion


  1. Got the munchies? – Chomp on your favourite variety of nuts or raw vegetable crudités – cherry tomatoes, button mushrooms, carrots batons or celery sticks with a spicy salsa, hummus or guacamole dip
  1. Don’t forget dessert – Pack one final portion into your day with a bowl of yogurt and frozen berries. It is easy to throw together, nutritious and delicious

[1] Public Health England, Food Standards Agency. National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Results from Years 5 and 6 (Combined) of the Rolling Programme (2012 /2013 – 2013/2014). September 2016

Pumpkin, Sage and California Walnut Open Lasagne


With crunchy California walnuts, creamy mascarpone and feta, and fragrant sage, this open lasgane is a modern twist on a classic.

Preparation time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

You’ll need:


800g pumpkin, 3 tbsp olive oil, Salt and pepper, 100g California walnuts

1 small bunch sage, 1 clove garlic, minced, 8 sheets of fresh pasta

200g chard, 3 tbsp mascarpone cheese, ¼ tsp nutmeg, 150g feta cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  1. Peel the pumpkin and chop into 2cm pieces. Drizzle the bottom of a baking tray with 2 tbsp of olive oil, toss in the pumpkin, and season generously with salt and pepper.
  1. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  1. In the meantime, add the walnuts and sage to a food processor, setting aside a few sage leaves to garnish, and blitz until roughly chopped.
  1. Place the remaining olive oil into a medium non-stick frying pan over a low heat, add in the walnuts and garlic, and sauté until well toasted and fragrant.
  1. Cook the pasta sheets in plenty of salted boiling water, adding in the chard towards the end of its cooking time. Drain the pasta and set aside 150ml of the water.
  1. Take half the roasted pumpkin, place in a small saucepan over a low heat and mash with the pasta water and mascarpone cheese. Grate in the nutmeg and stir to form a sauce (adding in a splash more water if necessary). Season to taste.
  1. Cut the cooked lasagne sheets into 3 or 4 pieces each and layer onto 4 plates with the pumpkin sauce, chard and roasted pumpkin cubes.
  1. Fry the remaining sage leaves to garnish if you have time.
  1. Sprinkle with the walnut mixture and crumble over the feta to serve.

Beetroot, California Walnut and Sour Cream Dip


This nutty, creamy dip is perfect for a healthy snack or light lunch option. Serve with crackers or rye bread and bring the vibrant colours of California to your mealtime.

Preparation time: 20 mins

Serves: 4


You’ll need:

60g California walnuts, 2 tsp caraway seeds, 270g cooked beetroot

Juice of 1 lemon, 1 clove garlic, 3 tbsp sour cream, 2 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped,

1 small slice of stale bread, Salt and pepper, 1 tbsp walnut oil



  1. Preheat the oven to 180°
  1. Place the walnuts onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for 8-12 minutes, or until tinged golden brown and fragrant.
  1. Toast the caraway seeds in a dry frying pan for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Place 1 tsp of the seeds in a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder, setting the rest aside.
  1. Roughly chop the beetroot and place into a food processor along with the lemon juice, garlic, walnuts, sour cream and ground caraway seeds.
  1. Tear the bread into chunks and add to the processor, then blitz until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  1. Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with the remaining caraway seeds and chopped dill. Drizzle over the walnut oil to finish.
  1. Serve with crudité and rye crackers or toasted dark rye bread.

California Walnut and Rosemary Crusted Goats Cheese with Beetroot Carpaccio


Creamy goats’ cheese and beautiful beetroot are the perfect match for California walnuts – whip up this easy salad for lunch, dinner or a side dish and watch it disappear.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Serves: 4, to share

You’ll need:


2 medium sized beetroots (1 golden and 1 purple makes a pretty colour combination)

A little olive oil, 40g California walnuts, 3 sprigs of rosemary, 20g breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper, 1 egg, 2 X 100g pieces of goats’ cheese, 40ml walnut oil, 15ml cider vinegar,

1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp orange zest, 2 tsp orange blossom honey, 1 head of radicchio



  1. Place the beetroot into a small saucepan of salted boiling water over a medium heat and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until tender. Drain and leave to cool a little before rubbing off the skin with your fingers.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, line a flat baking tray with foil and drizzle with a little olive oil.
  1. Roughly chop the walnuts and 1 sprig of the rosemary, mix with the bread crumbs, and season with salt and pepper.
  1. Whisk the egg in a small bowl, dip the goats’ cheese into the egg, place into the walnut bread crumb mixture and toss lightly to coat.
  1. Place the goats’ cheese onto the baking tray and push a rosemary sprig into the centre of each. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the nuts are toasted and the goats’ cheese is soft and melty inside.
  1. Whisk together the walnut oil, cider vinegar, lemon juice, orange zest and honey and season to taste.
  1. Slice the beetroot as thinly as possible with a sharp knife or mandolin. Take 2 medium sized plates and lay the beetroot in a thin layer.
  1. Separate the radicchio leaves and lay on top of the beetroot, then drizzle each plate with the dressing.
  1. Top each plate with a baked goats’ cheese to serve.

California Walnut Pesto with Tenderstem and Whole Wheat Spaghetti


With California walnut pesto and whole wheat spaghetti, this easy pasta dish is packed with fibre and will keep the whole family happy – perfect for lunch or a quick, simple dinner option.

Preparation time: 15 mins

Serves: 2


You’ll need:


140g whole wheat spaghetti, 100g tenderstem broccoli, ½ garlic clove

25g California walnuts, toasted, plus a few extra to garnish, 10g basil

10g fresh mint leaves, Pinch of salt, 25g vegetarian parmesan

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 small courgette, spiralized



  1. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water according to the packet instructions, adding in the broccoli towards the end of the cooking time.
  1. Meanwhile grind the garlic, walnuts, basil, mint and salt in a pestle and mortar until you have smooth paste.
  1. Grate in the parmesan, then stir in the extra virgin olive oil, adjusting the seasoning to taste.
  1. Drain the pasta and tenderstem, setting aside 1 cup of the cooking water.
  1. Add a little of the pasta water to the pesto to loosen the mixture to a good consistency.
  1. Toss the pasta with the spiralized courgette allowing the residual heat to wilt it slightly, mix in the pesto, and sprinkle over a few extra chopped walnuts to serve.