BBC Headline: Ready Meals May Count Towards Five A Day

Review Of News Articles

This article came out this week regarding new considerations of what the ‘5-A-Day’ logo could entail.

…“Currently the five-a-day logo can be used only on food or drink that is 100% fruit or vegetable.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think including ‘ready meals’ in the Five-A-Day ‘branding’s’ could be sending the wrong message??


They noted:

…”Products would have to meet agreed standards on fat, sugar and salt.”

……but some of these ‘ready meals’ are not ‘great’; not just with their added sugar, fat and salt contents. A ‘token’ amount of peas, tomatoes or beans doesn’t go far into your 5-A-Day total.  These ‘ready meals’ should contain healthier levels of sugar, fat and salt anyways and they should emphasize that serving them with ADDITIONAL vegetables will help people meet healthy eating guidance! Vegetables provide us with a lot more vitamins and minerals than fruit do and therefore go a long way into preventing chronic diseases…. So we should be encouraging more people to cook from scratch, using a vary of vegetables, legumes and pulses…


It feels like the government has given up on the obesity problem slightly… because the masses complain about a ‘nannying state’ and portray that the current 5-A-Day structure and physical activity guidance is unrealistic … so they are ‘watering down’ the criteria of what may or may not be healthy.

…“Now government nutritionists are meeting with academics and food industry experts to decide if rules on the five-a-day logo scheme can be relaxed to include healthy foods that are currently excluded.”

If they do include ‘ready meals’, should the quantity of fruit of vegetables be increased too? Maybe 7-A-Day? How many fruits and vegetables do you currently eat/day?


As it stands:

…“Fewer than one in three adults and one in 10 children in the UK eat the recommended five portions a day.”

They should be reviewing the situation… and ask themselves why people are not currently making these recommendations… not ‘lowering the standards’ necessary…

It’s pretty obvious that more provisions should be made into providing: food education, healthy living and eating advice and cheaper staple foods (as food poverty has been shown to affect so many in the UK)…we shouldn’t try and make people feel good about their bad habits, laziness or lack of will power …by condoning processed foods and/or ‘ready meals’ as a ‘healthier choice’.

Cooking methods and the quality of the ingredients used in meals are really the deciding factors as to what is considered healthy anyways….and if we are just relying on ‘zapping’ our meals (regardless of how many vegetables it contains)…how many nutrients will it provide us with?


…“No decision has yet been made on what foods would make the grade – but about 350 categories of foods are being looked at, including pizza, vegetable lasagne, soup, and low fat baked beans.”

What’s next then…should we consider condiments and ‘fruit cakes’ too…

Ultimately, if the guidance changes, the general tone of ‘ready meals’ could be a healthier one….and until we know the full criteria for the new guidance, its hard to give it a full thumbs up or a thumbs down.


Where do we draw the line with solid healthy eating advice or what foods are considered healthy? What are your thoughts?


Written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image: Courtesy of the BBC website (original article)

Roasted Peppers Stuffed W/ Quinoa & Vegetables

Healthy Recipes, Meatless Monday

Serves: 2-4
Prep & Cooking Time: 70 mins (*Dependent upon skill and/or the number of kitchen helpers!)
Type: Main Meal
Tools: Non-stick pot, sieve, chopping board, sharp knife, measuring jug, frying pan(s), frying spatula, heat-proof dish.

Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C, E & K, protein, carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and (per serving) is low in saturated fats!

This is a great recipe, if we do say so ourselves. It allows you to have all of the lovely roasted bell pepper taste without the calories; there’s no greasy fillings either! These stuffed peppers are crammed full of delicious flavours and textures, making them satisfying right up until the last bite! It’s the perfect meal for right now too as it’s currently so cool and damp here in the UK!

Happy cooking everyone! 🙂



+++++++++++++++100g      Dried Quinoa
+++++++++++++++4             Large Bell Peppers (red, yellow or orange/ approx. 680g)
+++++++++++++++70g        Frozen Spinach
+++++++++++++++180g       Red Onion
++++++++++++++  4g           Garlic Clove
+++++++++++++++80g        White Mushrooms
+++++++++++++++80g         Carrot
+++++++++++++++68g         Cherry Tomatoes
+++++++++++++++16g          Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
+++++++++++++++4g            Fresh Dill
+++++++++++++++16g           Fresh Basil
+++++++++++++++250ml     Vegetable Stock (low-sodium, DF/ GF if required)
+++++++++++++++5ml          Olive Oil
+++++++++++++++10g           Cashew Nuts
+++++++++++++++10g           Pine Nuts
+++++++++++++++3g             Dried Thyme
+++++++++++++++20g          Dried Cranberries
+++++++++++++++                 Salt and Ground Black Pepper

Need an easy-print recipe? Print here. 🙂




Rinse the quinoa in a sieve under cold water and then and cook it according to the packet instructions; remove from the heat. NB: We cooked ours for 15 mins and then allowed it to rest for an additional 10 mins off the heat (with the lid on!).



In the meantime, prepare the vegetables and stock.

  • Place the spinach into a small microwavable bowl. Microwave on a defrost setting for about 4-6 mins, or until defrosted/wilted. Drain in a sieve. Tip: If using fresh spinach, wash it in a colander and gently wilt it by pouring a little freshly boiled water over it. Drain.
  • Peel and finely chop the onion the garlic.
  • Wash, pat dry and then roughly chop the mushrooms.
  • Wash, trim the ends, peel and then finely grate the carrot. Wash, remove the stems and then dice the tomatoes.
  • Wash, dry and then finely chop the parsley, dill and basil; if preferred, discard any larger stems.
  • Boil 250ml in a kettle. Prepare the vegetable stock in a large measuring jug.



  • Meanwhile, place the ‘pepper bases’ onto a microwavable plate. Microwave for 6 mins or until just softened. Tip: This will shave you 30 mins off your cooking time! Remove and place them into a heat-proof dish.
  • Place the pepper tops onto a plate. Microwave  for about 3 mins. Once the peppers have cooled, lightly rub the outside of the tops and bottoms with the oil.



Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F. In the meantime ‘steam-fry’ your veggies!

  •  Place a non-stick frying pan or wok over a medium-low heat. Once hot, add the stock a little at a time to ‘steam-fry’ the vegetables. Add the onion and the garlic first. Cover with a lid and gently fry for 1-2 mins. Tip: Stir and add a little more stock occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking; continue with this tip as you add more vegetables.
  • Add the mushrooms and steam- fry for 3-4 mins. Add the carrot and tomato. Steam-fry for 3-4 mins. Add the parsley dill, basil and spinach. Fry for a further 1-2 mins. Remove the pan from the heat.



  • Meanwhile, heat a (small) separate, non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the nuts. Gently ‘dry-fry’ until lightly browned. Tip: Watch them like a hawk! They can easily burn, especially the pine nuts!
  • Remove from the heat. Transfer the nuts onto a chopping board. Allow to cool slightly. Roughly dice them.



  • Fluff the cooked grains of quinoa with a fork.
  • Add the quinoa, nuts, thyme and cranberries to a frying pan. Mix together. Season it with some salt and pepper to taste. Tip: If preferred, you can complete this step in a mixing bowl, but why dirty another dish eh?!



  • Spoon the mixture into the peppers. Press and stuff it snugly into the peppers with the back of a spoon as you go. Tip: You can place a ramekin in the middle to prevent the peppers from falling whilst they roast!
  • Once the peppers are full, top them with the pepper tops. Place the pan onto the middle oven shelf. Bake for 20-30 mins, or until softened and lightly roasted. NB: Ours finished in 27 mins. Remove. Allow them to cool slightly before serving as the inside will be steaming hot!








If preferred…

  • Cook the peppers in the oven for 45-60 mins until roasted, (if you have the time of course) and skip the ‘microwave step’.
  • Try using large beef tomatoes instead of peppers. We would imagine you would have to at least halve the quantity of the stuffing, unless you fancy roasting loads of tomatoes! If you do this, save the scooped out tomatoes flesh and add it to the stuffing instead of the cherry tomatoes!
  • Try various herb or nut combinations.Tip: Any herbs you do not use, you can always wash, dry and then freeze in a resealable and air tight container.
  • Use fresh spinach instead of frozen. Tip: the frozen variety works just as well and its usually cheaper too.
  • Try using wild rice instead of quinoa.
  • Serve with some dark green leaves if desired. In all honestly though, you probably don’t need much as these babies are ‘fibre-licious’!


news article

Review Of News Articles

On our eat2health facebook page I shared a BBC article about a recent study into the Mediterranean diet and reduction of heart diseases; they also advocated it for weight loss. 

Now none of this is new and has been taught to Dietitians and properly trained nutritionists for years but in case you’re unsure:

“A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean cuisine varies by region, but is largely based on vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, olive oil and fish.”
NHS choices website

I won’t go on in detail about the Med… diet; although it may feature as an article in the future; the interesting point from the report and as was highlighted by the BBC are the comments about the food industry and the NHS. The inclusion of fast food outlets and shops full of chocolate within hospitals has always been a sore topic for Dietitians so it’s nice to see a professor and chairman of the national obesity forum decrying their “sinister effect”.

Alexander Risby  RD Trust a Dietitian

(image taken from the BBC article – not referenced)