Are you finding it tricky to get in your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables? You know good eating is a healthier choice, but it can be easy to reach for chips, cookies and other tasty treats instead. You might feel tempted to rely on comfort food, especially when it’s more difficult to get out and purchase fresher, healthy foods. It might also feel like a chore to make meals that are nutritious and delicious. But, never fear! If you’re looking for new ways to add more produce to your diet, you can try any of the following tips:
- Start early. To get in the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, add them in at breakfast. Try adding bananas to your cereal or berries to your yogurt, drink a glass of 100 percent fruit juice or include vegetables in your omelet. Whatever fruits you have lying around can be made into a smoothie, and whatever leafy greens you have can be tossed into a salad. You can find lots of different recipes online that provide substitutions and give tips to make your breakfast quick, delicious and packed with fruits and veggies.
- Keep it visible. When fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods are tucked away in your refrigerator, crisper or cupboard, it’s easy to forget about them. Instead, you can make fruits and vegetables visible to encourage everyone in your family to eat them. Simply set out a fruit bowl in the kitchen, or build a small garden in pots on your patio or in your backyard.
- Swap meals. Replace your lunch with a salad or try adding accompaniments to your sandwich. Cucumbers, sprouts, tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, raisins, apples, grapes and oranges are all easy and nutritious add ins for a salad or on a sandwich. The combinations are endless and you might just find a new favorite meal! You can even check out Pinterest or a food blog to find more exciting recipes to try.
- Hide them in your favorite recipes. A lot of the time, vegetables can be added to your favorite recipes without anyone knowing it. Just add chopped vegetables like onions, garlic and celery when cooking soup, stew, beans, rice, spaghetti sauce and other sauces. Try adding squash, cauliflower or carrots to mac and cheese, or diced-up veggies to your hamburger or meatloaf. You can also make homemade popsicles with real fruit, or try use pureed veggies such as pumpkin or zucchini as a replacement for fat in cookie batter.
- Try something new. The same old routine can get boring, so why not shake things up with healthy new ingredients? On hot days, you can munch on a bowl of frozen fruits or vegetables, such as grapes, peas, watermelon or bananas. For dinner, try a cauliflower crust pizza or lettuce in place of a bun for your burger. If you’re feeling extra motivated, research buying a spiralizer or juicer. Both appliances are easy to use and allow you to use so much more of your fruits and veggies. If you like using the grill, try grilling up some fruit! Place peaches, plums, nectarines or pineapple on the grill over low heat. The sugar in the fruit will caramelize, giving it a sweet, smoky flavor.
- Incorporate a trip to the farmers’ market or Meatless Monday into your week. Taking a trip to your local farmers’ market will ensure you are getting the freshest produce possible. You may even find vendors who will offer recipes or have suggestions on how to prepare your produce. You can even try swapping out a meat during the week and opt for a plant-based meal. It will provide you with your daily dose of vegetables, vitamins and minerals.
- Try a shopping service. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it might be hard (and nerve-wracking) to get to the grocery store for healthy foods! However, many stores offer delivery or curbside pick-up as a safer alternative. This way, you can stock up on veggies and fresh fruit without having to shop in-store. Many grocery stores offer ads to show the current selection of what’s in season and you can always call to see what’s in stock. Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Amazon Prime Now are some other convenient shopping services you can try.
- Add more color. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. Some of these nutrients are fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamins A and C. Your body absorbs and uses vitamins and nutrients better when they come from a dietary source. Eating food from every color of the rainbow can help ensure you’re incorporating your daily nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Keep in mind, fresh produce has the most fiber and nutrients. If you can’t buy fresh, choose frozen. And if you need to purchase canned produce, choose items canned in water without added sugar or salt.
Start living healthier now!
Make it a goal of yours to try a new fruit or vegetable every week and see what new recipes you can come up with. Let your creativity come to life as you add healthy foods for a new meal or snack—it might even become a family favorite What you eat can help you feel your healthiest on the inside and look your best on the outside. Get started by gradually adding more fruits and veggies to your daily routine. Slowly modifying your menu can lead you to an overall happier, healthier life.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice.