Like almost everyone, do you need to increase your fruit and vegetable intake? Check out these 20 easy ways to increase fruits and veggies for meals and snacks.
Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, and you're more than halfway to better health
Are you getting the two-and-a-half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruits recommended daily for good health? Food consumption surveys find that the average adult falls way short of these guidelines, consuming only 1.4 cups of vegetables and .9 cups of fruit daily. For weight management, fruits and veggies contain fewer calories per gram than the other food groups. So it's smart for both nutrition and calorie control to eat more fruits and vegetables; here's how.
20 Ideas to help you increase your fruit and vegetable intake
Experiment with a new seasonal fruit or vegetable each week. In-season produce offers the best flavor. Make it fun by exploring recipes to prepare it.
Pre-wash and cut up vegetables for quick snacks and additions to meals. They can be your own fast food!
Make smoothies with spinach, kale, berries, avocados, and bananas. With a high-power blender, you can add any fruit or vegetable.
Cauliflower rice makes a great rice substitute.
Roasted chickpeas make a savory, crispy snack.
Sliced bananas are a great topping to nut butter on toast. Skipping the bread? Try dabs of nut butter on banana slices.
Spaghetti squash is an excellent sub for pasta. You can also use spiralized zucchini or beets.
Use canned vegetables to thicken sauces and baked goods. For example, stir a can of pumpkin puree into spaghetti sauce. For beautiful color and nutrition, add pureed canned beets to cakes, brownies, and even muffin mixes. Creamy soups get healthier by adding pureed white beans, like Great Northern or cannellini beans. Add steamed, mashed cauliflower to mashed potatoes.
Top baked potatoes with delicious additions like salsa, green onions, steamed broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, and diced red peppers.
Bolster burgers and meatloaf with finely chopped mushrooms, onions, shredded zucchini, and grated carrots.
Ditch the bread and go leafy. Once a week, use a lettuce wrap for a sandwich instead of bread slices. It's great for tuna and egg salads, too. If you like bitter greens, you can even use kale or collards. Other bread substitutes: baked or grilled sweet potato or eggplant slices.
Salads aren't just for vegetables. Add fresh or dried fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries, pears, oranges, apples, dried cranberries, raisins, or dates.
Satisfy that sweet tooth with way fewer calories when you have fruit for dessert, such as baked apples, stewed pears, or cubed melon.
Fill half your plate with veggies to add volume with fewer calories.
Looking for a healthy chip replacement? Bake your own kale, carrot, or sweet potato chips. It's easy and quick. Toss with a bit of salt, pepper, and olive oil and bake until crispy. Fresh-sliced cucumbers also make a nice crunchy snack.
Replace up to half the oil in baking recipes with applesauce. Add shredded carrot or zucchini to muffins.
Stretch main courses with fruit and vegetable toppings. Turn plain baked chicken into a moist and flavorful meal by topping it with salsa. Make pork chops pop with baked apples, pears, or raisins.
Lasagna gets better by adding layers of frozen spinach or eggplant slices.
Frozen grapes are refreshing on a hot day.
Add sliced bananas, strawberries, or blueberries to your morning oatmeal. Cooking raisins or dried cranberries with oats makes a flavorful, healthy addition.