All right, we all know we’re supposed to eat more fruits and vegetables. We all know they are super healthy, high nutrient sources of anti-aging and cancer prevention goodness. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, water and antioxidants. The trick is getting in the recommended minimum of 5 servings a day. We know it isn’t easy so we came up with some ideas to help you pack in your daily quota of fruits and veggies.
1. Start Your Day with an Easy Win
Breakfast is a chance to get a head start on your daily fruit and vegetable goal. Add fruit to your cereal, oatmeal or yogurt, or make a yogurt parfait with layers of berries. If you eat eggs make it a veggie omelet with mushrooms, onions, peppers or tomatoes. If you’re in a hurry or don’t usually eat breakfast grab some fruit for the road: a banana, apple or grapes are all quick and easy. At the very least you could down a glass of real fruit juice to start the morning off with a serving or two under your belt.
2. The Creative Wrap
Use greens or lettuce in place of bread or tortillas to make wraps and get creative with the fillings. Load lettuce leaves with your usual sandwich toppings, last night’s leftovers or try something new. We love lettuce wraps filled with hummus, tomato, red onion and olives. We also like black beans, tomato, onion, avocado and cilantro wrapped in lettuce in place of a taco or burrito.
3. The Main Course Salad
This one’s a super size serving of veggies and you could even add some fruit. It doesn’t have to mean that much prep time either. Buy the pre-washed greens and add a few chopped veggies (or get the pre-chopped). Throw in some fruit, nuts, cheese, beans or meat to make it a meal and keep it interesting. Add some oil and vinegar or your favorite dressing and you might have your 5 servings in just this one meal. Mix up your toppings so you don’t get bored but don’t make it too complicated or labor intense, many chefs recommend only using 3 or 4 ingredients in a salad to get the most out of the flavors. So, you’re not being lazy, you’re a gourmet!
4. Soup (a salad in disguise)
Soup can be just as loaded with vegetable servings as a salad. Even if you buy canned soup you can add more vegetables to ramp up the nutrition. This is great way to use up leftover vegetables you already cooked. Just throw them in your soup. You could add carrots, onions, corn, broccoli, mushrooms or even a can of tomatoes. We buy some of the boxed vegetable soups like broccoli and butternut squash and then add more veggies. If you want something different, blend your soup for a creamy texture.
5. Smoothie Love
This is one of the most delicious easy ways to eat more fruits and vegetables, yes vegetables. You can put the usual suspects like bananas (even better if you freeze them), strawberries, blueberries or peaches in a blender for a huge fruit boost. You could also add some greens and you might not even know it. Baby spinach in a smoothie adds all kinds of extra nutrition and gets ‘hidden’ by all the stronger fruit flavors. Try adding just a little at first and see what you think. My absolute favorite smoothie right now has a frozen banana, frozen blueberries, baby spinach, cocoa powder and some flax meal with enough water to get the right consistency. It tastes like a berry chocolate milkshake.
6. The Dip
There are all kinds of things you can dip veggies into for a great snack. This area of the supermarket just keeps growing. Grab a bag of baby carrots, chop up a pepper or cucumber, maybe a few broccoli tops or cauliflower and go crazy. You could dip into hummus, baba ganoush (an eggplant based dip), guacamole, salsa, tzatziki (a tangy cucumber dip) or the classic ranch dressing.
7. Roast them
Everything tastes better grilled or roasted. This one is easy but tastes complicated. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and fill it up with vegetables. Onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, beets, carrots, brussel sprouts are all great roasted. Spray them with vegetable spray or a light coat of olive oil, you can also sprinkle with herbs, spices or pepper and then roast them in the oven. You can also do this with fruit: roasted apples, pears and pineapples are delicious.
8. Cram them into the things you make anyway
You can add extra vegetable to just about any recipe you might have. Some easy ones to ramp up are pastas, pizza, soups and anything in a casserole or crockpot. You could make a baked potato into a meal by loading it up with vegetables like steamed broccoli and mushrooms. Whenever you’re cooking just think about doubling the quantity of vegetable the recipe calls for.
9. Don’t Forget Dessert
This one is easy. Fresh fruit is a great replacement for less healthy desserts. You can go with plain whole fruit, fruit salads (sprinkle a little cinnamon on top), fruit smoothies, frozen fruit juice slushies or make your own popsicles.
10. Try A New One Every Week
This is all about boredom prevention and variety. The next time you go to the market or store pick up a new fruit or vegetable that looks interesting and then Google a recipe that uses it. This week we are trying Swiss chard for the first time and I was surprised to find out I like it. You can go for the exotic, the gourmet, or just satisfy your curiosity. What do persimmons taste like anyway?
Now, go out there and make 5 servings a day look easy!