You know that fruits and vegetables are important, and you might even know you should aim for 5-7 servings a day. But how? Here are some creative ways to add more produce to your diet. Test a few of these out, and you may even be able to replace a less healthy habit.
• Add fruit to your cereal
• Grab a fresh piece of fruit to eat on your way to work
• Make a smoothie with fruit, yogurt, milk and ice
• Add vegetables to your scrambled eggs
• Drink a low sodium V8 with breakfast
• Grapefruit and other citrus fruits make for a great add-on to breakfast
• Add veggies to your sandwich or wrap. Broccoli slaw anyone?
• Lettuce makes great “bread.” Boston Bibb or Romaine wraps well.
• Pack a fresh piece of fruit, berries or cut up melon.
• Pack frozen fruit. It will thaw by lunch! Add to a bowl of instant oatmeal for a new lunch idea.
• Drink your lunch, mixing up a fruit and veggie smoothie.
• Add cooked/pureed cauliflower, squash or pumpkin to mac 'n cheese
• Double the amount vegetables called for in recipes
• Grate vegetables into casseroles and soups. This works well with carrots, zucchini squash and sweet potato.
• Slip spinach into anything baked.
• Make a fish “bake” - Line foil with veggies on the bottom, and top with fish. Drizzle teriyaki or another sauce on top, if you like. Wrap the foil around tightly and bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until done.
• Use steam bags to quickly prepare frozen veggies.
• Always serve a green salad if you aren't having another vegetable. It's OK to have both!
• Use spaghetti squash in place of noodles and serve with a little sauce and parmesan.
• Have veggies for at least one snack during the day. Baby carrots work well for non-creative and un-daring individuals.
• Make homemade kale or plantain chips.
• Put veggies, like peppers and zucchini squash, on the grill while grilling your entrée.
• Cut cauliflower heads crosswise and drizzle with olive oil before grilling to create “Grilled Cauliflorettes”
• Freeze sliced fresh fruit for smoothies or a different type of snack. If your teeth can take it, eat them right from the freezer. Banana slices and grapes work well for this.
• Use dips! Hummus, cottage cheese, yogurt and fat free refried beans work well, depending on the veggie or fruit.
• Try a dip made with pumpkin, spinach or red pepper. (recipe below)
• Use canned pumpkin to boost nutrients in baked goods. (1 yellow or white cake mix with 1 15-oz can of pure pumpkin. Follow baking directions for cupcakes)
• Smear a banana or apple with peanut butter for a more satisfying snack.
• Add fruit to yogurt, on top of cottage cheese, over your salad or with some cheese. Laughing cow cheese wedges are good on slices of pear.
• Try dried fruit, but be careful of your portion. 1/4 cup is a serving. Some of the freeze dried fruit “chips” offer a full serving.
• Drizzle berries with a little melted chocolate. One teaspoon of chocolate chips can be melted and shared among a handful of berries. Drizzle and let harden.
• Cut up an avocado and smash 1/2 of it with 2 TBSP plain nonfat Greek yogurt. Add 2 TBSP salsa and you have a lighter Guacamole for dipping strips of pepper, baby carrots, baked chips or whole grain crackers.
• Have cherry tomatoes, or other “pop-able” veggies in a bowl on your counter or your desk. So long candy jar!
• If all else fails, have an 8 oz glass of low sodium vegetable juice, or 100% fruit juice
Creamy Spinach and Feta Dip (makes 2 cups)
Place 6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt, 3/4 cup crumbled fat free feta cheese, 2 ounces softened 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream, and 1 crushed garlic clove in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon yogurt mixture into a medium bowl; stir in 2+ cups finely chopped fresh spinach, 1 TBSP fresh dill, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Cover and chill.