Creative ways to Eat Healthy

Parents always tell us to eat our fruits and vegetables because they're good for us.  Unless you really have an appetite for them, it can be difficult to follow mom's advice once you are in charge of your own diet.  After all, who wants to eat something because they "should"?  We enjoy eating foods we find appetizing.  The following are some tips to help you add more fruits and veggies to your diet and make them more enjoyable.

1. Add them to a food you are eating anyway: If you have a bowl of cereal, add some blueberries or a cut up banana.  If you have an omelet, add some diced green pepper and onion (there are actually a very wide variety of vegetables that can be cooked with eggs.)  If you have a sandwich, add some spinach leaves or sprouts.  Think about the foods you eat regularly and chances are there is room to add some extra produce.

2. Disguise them: If you object to the taste of fruits or vegetables, or have little kids who don't want to eat them for no good reason, find ways to add them into the food you are making without their presence being obvious.  Make pumpkin pancakes instead of regular pancakes (in most cases the pumpkin taste isn't that strong and you probably won't taste it through the syrup anyway).  Puree some cooked carrots into spaghetti sauce.  Blend several type of fruit together, add a scoop of ice cream or yogurt and you have a healthy dessert smoothie.  With some creativity you can find ways to consume fruits and vegetables without noticing them. 

3. Plan to have one serving of fruit/vegetable with every meal: Think about what fruits and veggies appeal to you at different times of the day, then buy them and eat accordingly.  If you have one serving with each meal, you're already more than half way there to the recommended daily serving!

4. Take advantage of the different forms: You don't have to always eat fresh fruit and vegetables.  Frozen vegetables are one of the easiest side dishes to make for dinner.  Dried fruit makes a delicious morning or afternoon snack when mixed with nuts, or just by themselves.  Canned fruits and vegetables have their merits too; they make fruits available when they aren't in season and sometimes make consuming that food easier than if it was fresh (think about how much time and money you save by buying a can of artichoke hearts versus buying fresh artichokes, cooking them, and extracting the hearts).

5. Try vegetarian cooking: There are plenty of recipes out there that center on vegetables rather than meat.  When you find ones you like, you won't even miss the meat and will have new delicious ways to consume vegetables. 

6. Buy fruits and vegetables you know you like: If you know that you hate the taste of broccoli, don't buy it just because you know it's healthy and good for you.  You will probably end up not eating it and if you do, you'll resent it.  Buy fruits and veggies that you will look forward to eating; chances then increase that you actually will eat them and not because you have to.

7. Buy good quality when buying fresh: Nobody wants to eat a fruit that is so over-ripe it's mushy; same with vegetables.  Take some time to research your favorite fruits and vegetables so that you can pick those that are most fresh when you are at the store.  This will make consuming them that much more enjoyable.

8. Experiment to discover new fruits and vegetables: If you are feeling adventuresome, pick a fruit or vegetable that you have never eaten or have never eaten in an appetizing form.  Find a recipe featuring that food that does appeal to you, then try it.  If you don't like it, then you'll know you can move on.  But if you do like it, you've discovered a new food to add to your diet more regularly!

9. Grow your own fruits and/or vegetables: This takes a commitment but if you are dedicated enough to set up a garden and keep it going, chances are you will want to enjoy the "fruits" of your labor!

10. Buy a share of fruits and/or vegetables from a local farm: These programs offer you a delivery of fresh produce every week for a season.  You may end up with a ton of carrots one week and a box full of tomatoes another week.  Not only will this give you fresh produce with minimal effort on your part but it will challenge you to find different ways to consume the food before it goes bad!

Happy fruit and vegetable eating!