Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
It’s not news to anyone that eating fruits and vegetables is usually associated with better health. “Eat your veggies” is common instruction in our society, from parents, doctors, and coaches alike. But over time as our days became more hectic, our diets changed. Instead of eating foods that come from the ground, we often reach for packaged food-like products that offer almost no benefits.
As food trends change, eating fruits and vegetables is now becoming more mainstream. Restaurants now highlight fresh produce as the star of their dishes, and food companies pride themselves on adding fruits and veg to their products. Even with all of this positive momentum to enjoy more fruits and vegetables, many Americans still find it difficult to eat the recommended amounts.
According to the American Heart Association, the average American should eat approximately 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Recommendations may differ based on age, gender, and activity level, but all of the experts agree on one thing: fruits and vegetables are the foods you should eat most often.
How do you do that? Easy. Focus on filling at least half of your plate with colorful produce at every meal. No measuring required. Read on for several other ways you can up your fruit and veggie game!
Add Veggies to the Classics
You can add vegetables to nearly anything! Making eggs for breakfast? Throw in peppers and onions. Craving pizza? Make your own on whole grain pita and load it up with vegetables and a thin layer of fresh mozzarella cheese. Preparing burgers or tacos? Increase your veggie intake and stretch your meat by adding chopped vegetables to ground beef or turkey. You can even use vegetables to make healthier desserts, such as zucchini brownies or sweet potato muffin bites.
Drink Your Veggies and Fruit
Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to eat more vegetables and fruit. Watch out for smoothies made with added sugars, powders, or fruit juices, and opt for ones with whole ingredients. You can make your own with spinach, fruit, Greek yogurt, and your milk of choice. And remember – fruit juice is not the same as a smoothie. Smoothies are loaded with fiber, and can help keep you full and stabilize your blood sugars.
Swap Noodles and Rice for Veggies
Noodles and rice can be part of a healthy diet, but they are easy to overeat. If you are craving a large portion of these foods, try riced cauliflower and broccoli or vegetable noodles, such as zucchini or beet noodles. You can purchase these products at most stores or make your own by using a spiralizer or a food processor.
Eat Fruit as a Topping or Dessert
Fruit really is nature’s candy! You can add a touch of sweetness to yogurt, granola, and even salads by adding fresh or frozen fruit. Fruit also makes the perfect dessert, alone or paired with a few squares of dark chocolate. If you are looking to cut back on your sweets, start by eating fruit instead a few days a week.
Note from Healthy for Life Meals: We know that a busy schedule can make it difficult to eat more fruits and vegetables. That’s why we take the work out of healthy eating for you and provide a menu full of balanced meals with plenty of fruits and veggies! Get started today with one of our plans to stay on track with healthy eating.
MyPlate & What is a Serving of Fruits and Vegetables? Fill Half of Your Plate. Fruits & Veggies More Matters. 2018. https://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/myplate-and-what-is-a-serving-of-fruits-and-vegetables
About Fruits and Vegetables. American Heart Association. 2017. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/About-Fruits-and-Vegetables_UCM_302057_Article.jsp#.Wq_cHJPwbow