Yes, it seems everywhere you turn health and wellness experts are telling you to eat more fruits and vegetables. You totally get it. Fruits and vegetables (and other plants), of nutrition: fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.
Yes, people who eat more fruits and vegetables live longer, healthier lives. Not to mention they protect their bodies and minds from just about every chronic disease out there.
Yes, eating more vegetables can help you maintain a healthy body weight, and even lose some fat (as long as you don’t bread and fry them, or cover them with cream sauce).
Your question is not “Should I eat more fruits and vegetables,” but “How can I actually do it?” As someone who eats a whole food, plant-based diet, I have lots of creative and delicious ways to help you eat more fruits and vegetables (aka produce).
1. Start From Where You Are
Always start from where you are. If you’re not used to any fruits or veggies, try for just two per day...perhaps an apple and a handful of baby carrots. Build up from there. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to overhaul your entire diet in one day. Wherever you’re at now, I challenge you to increase it by two per day.
2. Enhance Other Dishes
Some dishes are super-easy to enhance with a bit of strategically placed produce. Try something like:
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?
Love to bake? How about substituting ¼ cup of the sugar for ¼ cup of unsweetened applesauce?
Used to having a small salad? Why not try a larger one?
Making tomato sauce? Add in some extra mushrooms or peppers. Or puree an eggplant or zucchini in with the sauce.
3. Make a Meal More Delicious With Veggies
Steam some frozen corn and your favorite herb or spice…perhaps a shake of cumin, smoked paprika and a squeeze of lime.
Use veggies as your sandwich “bread” by making a lettuce wrap.
Don’t be afraid to spice them up! Try sauteing them for 10 minutes with a bit of water or veggie stock and flavor them with pepper, garlic, ginger or cumin.
4. Produce As Snacks
Why not throw a banana, apple or a couple of clementines into your lunch bag?
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 immerse it with fresh or frozen berries.
Take two of these suggestions and try them tomorrow. Just add two more fruits and veggies to the number you’re at today.
And if you’re not an instant fan, well, try 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 faves.
You can do it.
Let me know your favorite ideas in the comments below.