If you find it hard to get in the recommended number of servings of fruits and veggies each day, there is hope. In case you didn’t know, the federal dietary guidelines recommends we should be eating one and a half to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables each day.
How many of you can honestly say you are meeting those guidelines? You’re in the majority if you said “no” – only about 13 percent of Americans actually do consume that amount of fruit each day and even worse, only about 9 percent of Americans eat the recommended amount for veggies.
By not consuming more fruits and vegetables, we miss out on some very valuable nutrients – vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, fiber, and antioxidants. Plus, they are low in calories, they add variety to our diet, they’re a quick, natural snack and they appear to help reduce diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
But there is always room for improvement and here are some very simple, easy ways to get you started on consuming more produce:
· Go to the grocery store each week to buy fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables.
· Buy in-season produce (it is typically on sale and less expensive) or shop at discount warehouse stores.
· Buy prewashed and cut green beans, salad, broccoli, carrots, and stir-fry medleys.
· Stock plenty of frozen fruits and vegetables; they are already cut and clean.
· Spend time on weekends cleaning and cutting produce to have ready for the week ahead.
· Keep a fruit bowl out on the counter to remind yourself to grab fruit for a snack or part of a meal.
· Place a veggie tray and low-fat dip at eye-level in the refrigerator.
· Fill plastic baggies with cleaned and cut fruits and veggies for work, school, and weekend errands.
Ways to add more produce and color to your meals and snacks
Add red strawberries or raspberries, or blue blueberries to cold cereal or oatmeal
Add orange cantaloupe slices or blueberries to yogurt
Add green or red peppers and red salsa to an omelet or scrambled eggs
Add sliced red tomatoes and green romaine lettuce on a sandwich
Add shredded orange carrots and purple cabbage to a salad or in a pita sandwich
Have a side salad with green spinach, yellow corn, and purple onion
Have a side dish of roasted green Brussels sprouts and white potatoes
Have red and green apple slices with almonds
Have yellow pineapple or orange peaches in low-fat cottage cheese
Have orange mango and sliced yellow banana drizzled with maple syrup
Have red raspberries with nonfat whipped cream
Ways to add in more veggies to your diet
· Add lemon pepper and toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds to cooked green beans
· Add low-sodium soy sauce and peanuts to cooked broccoli
· Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on cooked carrots
· Add spaghetti sauce to cooked mushrooms and zucchini
· Sprinkle cumin on sautéed slices of onion and bell peppers
· Add paprika and parmesan cheese on cooked cauliflower
· Add a touch of barbeque sauce and add garlic to cooked greens, such as kale or spinach.