We all know fruits and vegetables are good for our health. Eating them regularly promotes healthy digestion, hydration, energy, and mood, and they’re a key ingredient in achieving a healthy weight.
However, the truth is that most of us need to be eating more of these colorful plants. The USDA recommends we all eat at least 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables each day, but many of us miss that mark. In fact, the average American only eats about half that amount!1
Changing how we eat can be hard, but by adding in some healthy habits, eating the recommended amount of produce can easily be within your reach. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Sneak Fruits and Veggies into Your Diet
- Begin your day with a savory breakfast. The savory flavor of breakfast foods like eggs, bacon, or sausage pair nicely with fresh greens or cooked vegetables like roasted sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, kale, or garlic. Try cooking your favorite veggies into an omelet, frittata, or scrambled eggs, or just serve them on the side. Plus, when you avoid sweet foods in the morning, your body is less likely to crave sugar later in the day. How’s that for looking out for your future self?
- Not into savory breakfast? Sip a green smoothie. Here are two simple recipes to boost your intake of produce from the get-go:
- Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie: Blend 1 cup of cold water or your favorite milk or milk substitute, 1 large handful of fresh spinach, 1 small banana, and 2 tablespoons peanut or almond butter in a blender on high.
- Tropical Green Smoothie: Blend 1 cup of water or coconut milk, 1 large handful of fresh spinach, ¼ cup frozen pineapple, ¼ cup frozen mango, ½ of a banana, and ½ cup plain Greek yogurt in a blender on high.
- Chop vegetables finely and hide them in your dinner. Finely dice some carrots, onion, celery, and garlic, then mix them into soup, pasta sauce, lasagna, casseroles, or even burger patties or meatballs. Remember White Castle’s oniony burgers? You’re welcome.
- Make a vegetarian meal at least once or twice a week. Let vegetables take center stage in a hearty vegetable barley soup, falafel on pita bread with leafy greens, a large Greek salad with chickpeas, or a warm bowl of spiced lentil dal and brown rice.
- Shake up a salad dressing you love, then let it entice you into digging into more leafy greens. There’s no shame in adding flavor to your salad with a dressing that contains heart-healthy fats like those found in olive oil. Try this go-to balsamic vinaigrette that comes together in a snap:
- Combine 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 4 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper in a jar and tightly close the lid. Shake vigorously to combine. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons on your salad, and store in the fridge if you have leftover dressing.
- On a budget or tight on time? Frozen produce has just as many nutrients as fresh produce. Plus, it lasts way longer than the fresh stuff, and it’s already chopped for you! You can’t notice the difference between fresh or frozen veggies in soups, stews, or stir-fry meals. Frozen fruit is easy to cook into oatmeal, muffins, or pancakes, and it blends up like a champ in smoothies.
- Sneak fruits and veggies in at snack time. Pack yourself a small container of peanut butter and a sliced apple for a comforting classic, or try some bell pepper slices or carrot sticks with hummus when you hit that afternoon slump. Celery and cream cheese is also a winning combo, or go ahead and slather some smoked salmon dip onto cucumber slices for a satisfying pick-me-up. A clementine and a small handful of almonds make a great portable option as well.
- Try a fruity dessert. Have a hankering for something sweet after dinner? Skip the cake and slice up a banana, an apple, or a few strawberries and dip them in a bit of melted chocolate for a quick and easy treat. In the mood for sorbet? Blend a frozen banana with a splash of vanilla almond milk for a smooth and creamy ice cream alternative or toss in frozen mango for a tropical vibe.
Tap into your own creativity and find what works for you when it comes to healthy eating habits. Experiment with some ideas on this list and add a few of your own, then choose one and act on it. Your body will thank you.
Seeking support making positive lifestyle changes or building in healthier habits? Reach out to a SEARHC Health and Wellness Coach at 966.8938 to learn how they can help.