5 Ways to Eat More Produce, Today!
Fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest foods on the planet. Not only are they usually a low-calorie option (meaning you can enjoy large portions of these foods without the guilt), they are also full of fiber. Fiber is a nutrient that can help lower cholesterol, promote digestive health, aid in achieving a healthy weight and keep you feeling full for longer.
Produce is also chocked full of a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are the nonnutritive component of foods, meaning they don’t provide protein, fat or carbohydrates to the diet, instead they are full of health benefits.
Fruits and vegetables that belong to the same color group also tend to share the same health benefits. For example, blue/purple produce (like cabbage, blueberries and eggplants) can support heart health. Yellow/green fruits and vegetables (like spinach and melon) support eye health. And red produce (like tomato and red peppers) can promote prostate health. With all these benefits, it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough produce. Aim for at least 2-3 cups of vegetables per day and 1 ½ -2 cups of fruit.
So, what are some simple ways to make sure you’re getting your greens? Look at some of our suggestions below:
- Be sneaky
Just because you’re eating more fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean you need to make them your main course. Find different ways to hide your produce in your food. If you’re heating up some pasta or marinara sauce, add some veggies like carrots, eggplant, broccoli and spinach – and then blend it up! Or, if you enjoy salads, make your own fruity dressings by combining 6 ounces of blackberries with ½ cup of balsamic vinegar. Enjoy mashed potatoes? Add some cauliflower to the boiling water, cook them together and mash! You’ll be upping your produce intake in no time with these sneaky tricks.
- Think of fruits as a dessert
Nature didn’t get it wrong when it comes to fruit. These antioxidant-rich treats are a sweet addition to any meal, and with the fiber they provide, there’s no need to fixate only on the sugar. One of the best ways to increase the fruit in your diet is to make this food group the star of your desserts. Whether you want to start small by adding a serving of berries to garnish your baked goods, or by making a mouthwatering fruit salad – when it comes to dessert, think fruit.
- Vegetables make a great snack
Vegetables don’t just belong in our main meals, they can make great snacks, too! For a great mid-afternoon treat, slice up some raw carrots, peppers and celery and enjoy them with a serving of hummus.
Vegetables can also be turned into delicious chips! Meaning potato chips are no longer the only option for that satisfying crunch. Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, radishes and kale can all be turned into chips. Simply slice your veggies thin, toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake until crispy! When it comes to kale, just rip those green leaves into bite-sized pieces and you’re ready to bake! Doing an online search will turn up loads of these veggie-inspired chips that won’t disappoint.
- Bulk up your salads
Who said that salads are boring? No longer are salads just made of lettuce, tomatoes and a store-bought dressing. Experiment with a variety of fruits, vegetables and homemade dressings to really mix things up.
You can also use your favorite cuisines to inspire you. Do you love Mexican food? Add some corn, beans, cilantro, peppers and a bit of salsa to your bed of lettuce and finish it off with a splash of lime. In the mood for some Asian cuisine? Garnish your salad with sliced almonds, grated carrots, mandarin orange slices and fresh ginger. Then top it off with a delicious peanut dressing. Or if you’re in the mood for Mediterranean, add some olives, chickpeas, artichokes, tomatoes, cucumber and radish and top with fresh lemon and a drizzle of olive oil. When it comes to your salad combinations, the variety can be endless.
- Think about a Meatless Monday
Want to know a sure-fire way to make sure you’re getting your daily dose of fruits and vegetables? Make them the center of your menu! A great way to fill up on your greens is to embrace the Meatless Monday movement. For the first day of the week, limit your meat intake and focus on the plant foods!
What are your favorite fruits and vegetables and how do you incorporate them in your meals? Share your comments with us below!