So it seems everywhere you turn health and wellness experts are telling you to eat more fruits and veggies.
Yes, they’re full of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, etc.).
Yes, people who eat more fruits and vegetables live longer, healthier lives. Not to mention protecting their bodies and minds from just about every chronic disease out there.
Yes, eating more vegetables can help you maintain healthy body weight, and even lose some weight (as long as you don’t fry them, or eat them breaded, or cover them with cream sauce).
Yes, fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help to protect our skin from the cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals, smoking, pollution, and sunlight can cause wrinkling and age spots. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation, prevent infections and boost immunity. Some antioxidants that are known to boost skin health include:
- beta-carotene and carotenoids, found in orange and yellow fruits such as carrots, peppers, cantaloupe, guava, mango, and passion fruit.
- vitamin C, found in citrus fruits, berries, melons, pineapple, mango, and kiwi.
- vitamin E, found in berries, guava, kiwi, mango, nectarine, peaches, and pomegranates.
So the question isn’t “Should I eat more fruits and vegetables?”
The question is “How can I actually do it?”
I have a few creative and delicious ways to help you eat more fruits and veggies, which I’m going to share with you today!
Before we dive in, let me remind you to always start from where you are. If you’re not used to eating any fruits or veggies at all, just try to eat two per day to start. Then, build up from there. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to overhaul your entire diet in one day.
Wherever you’re at now with your fruit and vegetable consumption, I challenge you to increase it by two per day.
(And this is where you say, “challenge accepted!” 🙂 )
Now, let’s look at my ideas on exactly HOW to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet:
SNEAK THEM INTO OTHER DISHES
OK, this one may be, shall we say, “sneaky,” but hear me out!
Some dishes are super-easy to enhance with a bit of strategically-placed produce. What do you think of these ideas?
- Add ½ apple, a small handful of spinach, or extra berries into your smoothie.
- Dice or shred up an extra bit of carrot, broccoli, zucchini or pepper into your soup.
- Love sandwiches? Why not add an extra slice of tomato, lettuce or cucumber to it?
- Enjoy chicken, tuna, or salmon salad? Dice up a stalk of celery and throw it in.
- Love to bake? Try substituting ¼ cup of the sugar for ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce.
- Do you usually have a small salad? Yup, you guessed it: go for the bigger one.
- Make tomato sauce and add in some extra mushrooms, peppers, onions, garlic or any other extra veggies.
- Have a smoothie for breakfast or a snack. If you toss in a banana, handful of spinach and some berries (the darker the better for you), you’re already off to a great start to your day! Smoothies are quick, easy, and yummy! There are lots of different recipes, and you can easily fine-tune them for your whole family to enjoy.
MAKE THEM TASTE MORE DELICIOUS WITH A MEAL
- Steam some frozen veggies and add a touch of olive oil and your favorite herb or spice.
- Use veggies as your sandwich “bread” by making a lettuce wrap.
- Don’t be afraid to spice up your veggies! Try sautéing them for 10 minutes with a drizzle of oil and flavor them with pepper, garlic, ginger or cumin.
EAT THEM AS SNACKS
- Why not throw a banana, apple or a couple of clementines into your lunch bag?
- Wash, and cut up fresh veggies ahead of time to get them ready to eat for a snack. If you are a fridge-grazer, have them right in front of you when you open the fridge door! Making it EASY to have a fruit or veggie snack increases the chance of eating enough.
- Ditch the chips and dip – Instead try some carrot, celery, broccoli, cucumber or cauliflower with a dip like hummus, guacamole, or even your favorite salad dressing.
- Love sweetened yogurt? Buy plain, and mix in fresh or frozen berries.
Nut Butter Apple Sandwiches – Slice the top and bottom off of an apple and discard. Then slice the entire apple in rounds. Cut the centre core out of each round. Spread your choice of nut butter on one apple round. Set another round on top. You can sprinkle cinnamon on the butter, raisins or dried cranberries.
SO HERE’S YOUR CHALLENGE
Take two of these suggestions and try them tomorrow. Just add two more fruits and veggies to the number you’re at today. Two more, that’s all…easy, right?
And if you’re not a fan of a certain fruit or veggie, I encourage you to try it again. Research shows that sometimes it takes our taste buds several tries before actually beginning to like a new flavor. Try it; you might just find some new favorites!
Making the effort to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables is not only beneficial for you but looking up new recipes to incorporate them into your diet can be fun, too! Try asking your friends if they have some healthy recipes that are easy and tasty, and get in the habit of sharing with one another. You will then find it easier to be increasing your fruits and vegetables without having to think about it as much.
If you’re trying out some new recipes here’s a super simple hamburger vegetable soup that has lots of vegetables. Feel free to add other veggies that you happen to have on hand. If you don’t have beef broth, (I didn’t), so I used water and put a few extra spices in. I made a big pot of this soup, and it made lots for leftovers too.
Give this a try, you can do it; I believe in you!