12 Ways to Eat More Vegetables and Fruit
Enter in The 12 Healthy Habits. We’re not asking for a revolution. Just a few small and very simple changes to make you eat better, feel better, and create an overall new sense of well-being. Step one: Eat more Fruits & Veggies. Yes, we are actually asking you to eat more of something. How often do you get to hear that? Here are 12 simple ways to get you eating veggies and fruits today.
• Stir berries (fresh or frozen), dried fruit, or banana slices into yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal. Our Banana, Wheat Germ, and Oats recipe (shown here) boasts a full serving of fruit plus the benefits of wheat germ. Every 1/2 cup of fruit you add is a serving.
• Make a smoothie. Combine some low fat milk or yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen berries and a banana for a super easy blended breakfast – and 2 entire fruit servings!
• Have a glass of juice. Make sure it’s made from 100% fruit juice, and limit yourself to eight ounces per day to avoid too many added sugars.
• Don’t have time for breakfast? Whole fruits are quick, prep-free, on-the-go solution. Grab an apple, peach, banana, or orange and enjoy it on your way to work.
• Stir extra veggies into soups. Don’t be afraid to steer off the beaten recipe path just a bit. When it comes to something like soups, an overdose of chopped vegetables will not ruin the recipe. It will enhance the flavor, nutritional value, and your daily vegetable tally. A half cup of chopped vegetables and a whole cup of dark leafy greens is another serving. In White Bean Soup with Kale and Chorizo (shown), you can double the amount of kale or add chopped carrots, celery, red bell peppers, zucchini…the possibilities are endless.
• Cram them into casseroles. Cooking up a Mexican casserole? Add some extra peppers, mushrooms, and squash. Don’t be shy with topping with tomato- and veggie-heavy salsa, either. Eggplant Parmesan? Double the eggplant. Chicken Pot Pie? Double those peas and carrots. You’ve got the idea.
• Stuff them into sandwiches. A sandwich is another blank canvas just waiting to get stuffed with color. Take your routine turkey sandwich and jazz it up with sliced apples, cucumber, zucchini, sprouts, and spinach. A 1/2 cup of this colorful combination just scored you another serving.
• Grate your way to goodness. Shred or grate fruits and vegetables down, or puree them up and see how creative you can get with your favorite recipes. Grated zucchini and carrots do wonders for turkey burgers, meatloaf (like our Classic Meatloaf shown here), and meatballs, adding both moisture and nutrients to the dish.
• Puree cooked cauliflower, winter squash, or red peppers and stir them into sauces, mashed potatoes, pot pies, or even mac and cheese.
• Bribe yourself with baked goods. Both vegetables and fruits are healthy, delicious, and fabulous additions to breads, cakes, biscuits, and pies. Both savory and sweet, what better way to add a vegetable serving to your day? Carrot cake, pumpkin pie, sweet potato biscuits, zucchini bread or pancakes, corn muffins…. The list goes on, and the same is true for fruits. While we can’t exactly count an entire serving in a slice or piece, it’s still a way to sneak in half of a satisfying serving.
• Choose a day convenient to you to leave meat out of your diet. Use this as a “day of preparation” for the entire week to assist your goal to increase your fruits and vegetables by three servings a day.
• Sauté or grill extra vegetables on your meatless Monday, and continue to use the leftovers later in the week in pasta dishes, soups, sandwiches, and salads.
• Make a large batch of fruit salad to have on hand for meals and snacks.
• Become a food processing pro – Use the shredding blade to grate squash, carrots, zucchini, turnips, onions, sweet potatoes, etc. Bag them up and keep them easily accessible in the refrigerator. Add them to sauces, soups, stir-fry, casseroles, pizzas.
• If there is a local farmer’s market nearby, support your community and pay them a visit. Get the whole family involved. Allow either yourself, or a family member to choose a new item from the produce section and add it to your meal.
• Cooking for one? Invite a friend or two over to try the new dish with you. Two heads are often better than one, and you can both learn together.
• Once spring is here, U-pick farms are a fun way to get up close and personal with your produce.
• On a budget? Check the weekly specials at your local grocery store and choose one of the items on special that week. The specials often reflect the abundance of certain seasonal produce.
• Check out our “What’s in Season” guide to find out what produce is in season right now, recipe suggestions, and prep tips.
See More: Season's Best videos
• Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter at home or on your desk for a healthy (and eye-appealing) quick fix.
• Keep dried fruit in your car or purse for busy days when a breather is just not an option.
• Pack pre-cut fruit and veggies into snack-size bags for perfectly-portioned munchies. Keep them eye level in the fridge for easy access.
• Swap up your afternoon soda for 1/2 cup of 100% juice to squeeze in an extra serving.
• Take those plain old bananas and grapes to a whole new level with a freezing frenzy. Freeze grapes and bananas for a super satisfying, pop-able delight. For an added yum-factor, dip half a banana in a small amount of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
• Eating ice cream or frozen yogurt? Pile on 1/2 cup of fresh peaches, mangos or berries for a serving of fruit.
• Cut out the crust. Our favorite fruit pie recipes get placed on the “special occasions” list for one reason only: the buttery, fat-laden crust. The solution? Get rid of it. Place the filling of your favorite fruit (or pumpkin, as shown) pie recipe in individual ramekins. Bake until set and enjoy a serving of warm, satisfying fruit pie without the rich crust.
• Start one meal a day with a small salad. Get creative. One cup of leafy greens + 1/2 cup of fruit or veggie toppings = 2 servings.
• Alternate your greens from the normal Romaine or iceberg… for general rule of thumb, the darker the greens the more nutrient rich they are.
• Don’t cheat yourself on the dressing. Be moderate, but be tasteful. A lot of the fat-free and low-fat dressings out there are full of sugar and sodium and are completely deprived on flavor. A few splashes of a good, heart-healthy canola- or olive-oil based dressings can do wonders to that bed of greens. Try making your own with our Easy Herb Vinaigrette (shown). Make a batch to keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make sure that fruit is the base of your creation—too much fruit juice can rapidly add calories without providing any of the heart-healthy and digestive-friendly fiber that you get from the fruit itself. Enjoy for breakfast, as part of a balanced lunch, snack, or even dessert.
• Blend up a large batch and freeze in single portions for an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack.
• Surprisingly, some vegetables make great fiber-filling smoothie additions. Try carrots, a 1/2 cup of creamy canned pumpkin, or cooked sweet potato for a tasty addition. Try our Cucumber, Apple, and Mint Cooler (shown) for a refreshing, low-calorie smoothie that banks 1 serving of vegetables.
• Go savory. We get it. Not everyone gets excited when they look at a plate of raw vegetables. But pair them with a nutty hummus, zesty ranch, creamy avocado, and fiery salsa and now we’re talking. Crunchy crudités take on a whole new life with just a smidge of extra punch from a flavor-packed dip, like our creamy Garlic-Herb Dip (shown).
• We did the work for you in our 2010 Taste Test. We chose Tribe Classic as our grand-prize winner for its fresh flavor, with just the right hint of sesame, cumin, and garlic. Our Taste Test Award went to Athenos Original, perfect for garlic lovers. Both are just the right accompaniment to a bowlful of veggies.
Read More: See all our 2010 Taste Test Award Winners.
• Makeover the classic with our Potato Chips with Blue Cheese Dip (shown). Use a mandoline to cut the potato for the best results; hand-cutting is less likely to produce sufficiently thin and uniform slices. If you have any leftover chips, store them in an airtight container for up to a week.
• Go bananas. For a sweet treat, slice up moderately ripe bananas or plantains (like the Plantain Chips shown here) and either slow roast them or lightly sauté them for a crispy exterior and fruity flavor.
• Love the lettuce wrap. Instead of bread or tortillas, make your next sandwich or wrap inside a leafy green. Stack 2 or 3 large, leafy greens such as Bibb lettuce, romaine, red lettuce, cabbage, or radicchio and pile on the fixings. Enjoy the added crunch factor.
• Nix the Noodles. Try spaghetti squash. The name says it all with this veggie varietal. Once baked, spaghetti squash can be flaked with a fork to reveal spaghetti like strands to offer the perfect bed for your favorite pasta sauce. Try this technique in our Spaghetti Squash Gratins with Chunky Tomato Sauce (shown) or Spaghetti Squash with Chicken, Mushrooms and Spinach.