Next time you sit down to a meal notice how many fruits and veggies you have on your plate. Is half of it filled with these disease fighting foods? That’s what more of us need to do according to MyPlate.gov and they are right. If you want to be a healthy person getting in the various vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals our bodies need for nourishment and protection against chronic illness, the answer is staring you right in the face every time you walk by the produce aisle at the grocery store.
There is no better way to feed yourself than with health-promoting produce that is low in calories and fat and all it takes is about2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables each day.
For many of us eating the amount we are supposed to of fruits and vegetables is not always easy. Once you realize how many different ways you can sneak in fruits and veggies throughout the day it goes from being hard to very simple. Here’s how:
1. Grilling is not just for meat – veggies can be grilled too. Make festive-looking grilled vegetable kabobs loaded with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and red and green peppers.
2. A “good morning” breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, your choice of frozen berries and a banana is always a treat.
3. Brighten up a green salad by adding baby carrots, grape tomatoes, red and yellow peppers, mandarin oranges, and shredded purple cabbage.
4. Try a new topping for a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese.
5. Microwave a cup of vegetable soup for a quick easy lunch or snack.
6. Fruit kabobs are a new twist for grilling also – make kabobs using peaches, pineapple and bananas. Use low heat to grill until the fruit is hot and slightly golden.
7. Dessert doesn’t have to be ooey, gooey and loaded with calories. Make dessert using fresh fruit by slicing a banana lengthwise and topping it with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Or have a small bowl of berries topped with low-fat yogurt.
8. Have vegetables for breakfast. Fill an omelet with a variety of veggies using broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, carrots, tomatoes or onions.
9. Have fruit in sight at all times. Keep a fruit bowl out in the open filled with grab-on-the-go fruits like oranges, bananas, pears, peaches, or kiwi fruit.
10. Top your breakfast cereal or oatmeal with fruit for breakfast. Add in berries or sliced bananas for a fun change of pace.
11. A quick healthy lunch is a veggie wrap. Simply take a whole-wheat tortilla filling it with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese.
12. You favorite dip never tasted so good until you make it a healthy habit replacing chips with crunchy veggies instead.
13. Try out a vegetarian pizza – try using broccoli, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and zucchini.
14. Keep frozen vegetables at all times in the freezer – they are easy to steam, microwave, or stir-fry for a quick side dish.
15. Shred, grate or chop veggies like spinach, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms or peppers into meatloaf, casseroles, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
16. Sandwiches are a good way to add a slice of tomato, cucumbers, peppers, pineapple or an apple.
17. Cut up veggies for an anytime snack, side dishes, added to a lunch, or to munch on while fixing dinner. Good choices are cauliflower florets, celery sticks, baby carrots, snap peas, whole radishes, broccoli, red and yellow peppers, and cucumber slices.
18. Double the amount of veggies a recipe calls for. In soups, salads, or pasta dishes you can easily toss in a little more adding a lot more nutritional boost for you.
19. Ever roast vegetables? Very easy, simply drizzle a little olive oil over your vegetable of choice (broccoli, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, carrots, zucchini, onions, and tomatoes are perfect), throw a dash of kosher salt on top and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes, watching closely so they don’t overcook.
20. Visit a farmer’s market and try out one vegetable and one fruit you’ve never had before.
21. Buy fruits and vegetables in season. They’ll taste better and have better quality.
22. Dried fruit is a healthy option for when you are on the go. Keep them in your purse or at your desk at work for a healthy quick fix.
23. Take plain yogurt and use your own cut up fruit to add to it.
24. Try out dark leafy greens – and no, iceberg lettuce does not count. Choose spinach, Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, kale, mustard greens, or arugula.
25. Fix a plate of raw veggies and pair them with hummus, zesty ranch dressing, creamy avocado, or a fiery salsa.