Eating a diet full of whole foods, including fruits and vegetables, ensures your body operates at its best. The recommended daily amount of fruits for adults is 1.5-2 cups, and 2-3 cups of vegetables. Sources share that only 1 out of 10 Americans actually eats the recommended amounts, with the rest of us needing to fill the gap. That can sound daunting, but with some creativity and planning, anybody can increase the amount of fruits and veggies they consume. Here are 10 ideas for how to start:
A breakfast full of protein is a great way to start the day. Add in an assortment of vegetables, like mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, and some cheese, and you’ve already checked off incorporating some healthy elements into your day. The recipe linked below gives a great overview on how to make a basic veggie omelette-once you’ve mastered the technique, you can incorporate whatever veggies sound good that day.
Breakfast burritos are another great breakfast option, especially if you’re short on time and can’t eat at home. You can pack these up and eat during your commute. Make sure you use tortillas that don’t have shortening or sugar (you’d be surprised how many brands incorporate sugar!) to keep these healthy. This roasted veggie burrito is a unique combination of sweet potato, zucchini, and spinach- but you can mix and match however you’d like!
9/10 Americans don’t consume enough vegetables each day, according to the CDC. Smoothies are one easy way to incorporate several servings into a delicious drink. What’s great about smoothies is you can also use those fruits and veggies that you might not use for a dish- because they’re a bit too close to expiration- but in a smoothie, they are just perfect. This recipe contains spinach, celery, and cucumber, along with apple. The recipe also calls for protein powder, but you can scoop in some plain Greek yogurt instead.
Use as toppers
Whether it’s a salad, soup, yogurt, ice cream, cereal, a sandwich, you can easily incorporate a fruit or vegetable to knock out another serving for the day. Some ideas include fruit (like the strawberries in the linked salad), roasted tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and onions (over a veggie burger!), pomegranates over Greek yogurt. . .the possibilities are endless!
Use as an alternative to condiments
If you love sandwiches (and who doesn’t?!), you know that condiments make a huge difference. But all those spreads can add extra calories, fats, and sugar. Try using your favorite condiment – say, mayo- on one half of the sandwich, and use smashed avocado on the opposite side. Better yet, make an open faced sandwich to cut the amount of bread you eat, add avocado and pile on the veggies. Another healthy option is hummus which is also packed with protein. If you can’t go without your favorite condiments, reduce the amount used and also incorporate more vegetables to your sandwich.
Add to things you already make
Speaking of sandwiches. . .you don’t have to recreate the wheel to be able to increase the quantity of fruits and vegetables you consume. This is a great example. You can still make something as traditional as your favorite sandwich, and just slightly modify it to include one (or many) healthy elements. This recipe for a “rainbow sandwich” is perfect for those days you want a lighter alternative to meat, but still enjoy lots of flavor and will reap the benefits of all the veggies.
Incorporate into sauces
For some people a plate full of vegetables just isn’t that appealing and leaves them yearning for comfort foods like pasta. One way to have the best of both worlds is to make a sauce for that beloved pasta that contains plenty of nutrients often not found in store-bought options. An additional benefit to making your own sauce is that you can control exactly what’s put into it- including the salt, which is often added in high quantities in store-bought sauces. This recipe contains seven different vegetables including carrots, celery, chickpeas, zucchini, and of course tomatoes.
Add to baked goods
Don’t say we never gave you any good ideas on how to incorporate vegetables into your diet! We get it- it can be tough to step back from your favorite treats and recipes and revamp your entire diet to contain more vegetables and fruits. The best way to do it is to find ways to incorporate it into the things you love. Try avocado banana chocolate pudding (it’s way better than it sounds), beet dark chocolate scones, chocolate zucchini doughnuts, and carrot whoopie pies. The link below shares 23 baked goods with vegetables- you’re sure to find one that appeals to you!
Healthy substitute for carbs
Options like spaghetti squash and zucchini and cauliflower noddles are delicious alternatives to carbs like pasta. They are easy to prepare and can still be full of the flavor you’re accustomed to in the traditional versions. The recipe we linked is for garlic Parmesan spaghetti squash- add some spinach for an additional serving of leafy greens (loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals), and you’re sure to enjoy the meal and feel good.
Fruit and veggie ice pops
Did you make too much of that smoothie? Pour it into ice cube trays or popsicle molds and freeze them! They make for a great treat later in the day, for those mornings you don’t have time to make smoothies from scratch, or as an alternative to ice cream or other sweet treats for kids. Another option is to use a soft serve dessert machine (like this one found here) to make delicious ice cream with fresh fruits!
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