by Staci O’Connor, MS, RD, CLC, CDN
Most Americans are not getting enough fruits and vegetables into their diet and they are so rich in vitamins, fiber, nutrients, antioxidants, and water! Below you will find simple ways to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables that you consume on a daily basis.
- Add fresh or frozen berries, dried fruit, or banana slices to your plain Greek yogurt or hot/cold cereal.
- Make a smoothie. Combine low fat milk or yogurt with frozen berries and a couple of cups of dark leafy greens for a super easy breakfast on the go.
- Top a whole wheat sandwich thin with a colorful vegetable omelette. Add red, orange, yellow and green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and broccoli to your scrambled eggs. Think of the color of the rainbow and pick as many colorful vegetables to incorporate as possible.
- In a hurry? Grab a piece of fruit, such as an apple, banana, or orange with a handful of nuts on your way out the door.
- Aim to fill half of your plate with colorful vegetables at meal time.
- When dining out order extra sides of steamed, grilled or sautéed (in olive oil or vegetable broth) vegetables. Even if you don’t see any vegetable sides on the menu, ask if they can be prepared for you.
- Pizza night? Ask for a vegetable pizza or make your own vegetable pizza with your children. Pile colorful vegetables onto your pizza and even consider eating a salad before you dive in for a slice of pizza.
- Top sandwiches with lots of fresh vegetables, such as romaine lettuce or spinach, tomato, onions, sprouts, mushrooms, or fresh red pepper.
- Incorporate raw vegetables with natural peanut butter or hummus for your morning or afternoon snack.
- Make a large vegetable-based salad for lunch. Pick a few days each week that can be your “salad” days. Try to take the extra time to make your own salad at a salad bar or look for a healthy salad option at a restaurant.
- Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the table or counter at home and throw a piece of fruit or two in your suitcase/lunch box before you leave the house.
- Look for grocery stores or delis that have containers of mixed fruit or vegetables that are already cut up and ready to eat.
- Shred, puree or grate vegetables and see how creative you can get with your favorite recipes. Grated zucchini and carrots do wonders for turkey burgers and meatloaf. While pureed cauliflower, winter squash, or red peppers can be stirred into sauces, mashed potatoes, pot pies, or even mac and cheese.
- At dinner, add crushed pineapple to coleslaw, or include orange sections or grapes in a tossed salad.
- End your meal with dessert consisting of: a baked apple, pear or bowl of fruit salad.