7 Tasty tips for incorporating more fresh produce into your meals.
Though most of us were skeptical of it as children, “eat your fruits and vegetables” is good advice. In fact, fruit and vegetable consumption is linked to a host of health benefits, including weight management and a lower risk of heart disease, while providing nutritious vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Just how much should you eat to enjoy these effects? The American Heart Association recommends eating eight servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
If you’re wondering how to add more fruits and veggies into your diet, start by keeping a variety of raw produce on hand for quick snacks. Bananas, apples, grapes, and carrot sticks are just a few healthy and convenient grab-and-go options.
To discover even more ways to eat more fruits and vegetables, use this list:
- Experiment with smoothies
- Throw veggie burgers on the grill
- Try clever substitutes
- Emphasize veggies in meals you already like
- Cook a variety of cuisines
- Make salads interesting
- When in doubt, roast
Keep reading for more details on these tips and some great recipes to help you incorporate more produce into your meals!
1. Experiment with smoothies
Smoothies are one of the most delicious ways to eat more fruit and veggies – and they’re better than fruit juice because they retain their fiber. There are endless flavor combinations that can all be mixed-and-matched. First, pick your fruits, like blueberries, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, mango, and so on. Frozen varieties give your smoothie a cold, icy texture. Then, add a liquid to your blender, like coconut milk, almond milk, or a splash of juice or water, and optionally include a dollop of yogurt if you like a thick smoothie. Then blend away.
Kick it up a notch by adding veggies to make green smoothies! Frozen or raw avocado chunks add a delicious creamy smoothness. Other popular vegetables for smoothies include spinach, celery, carrots, cabbage, and kale. Add some flaked unsweetened coconut, peanut butter or almonds, and sprinkle herbs and spices, like ground ginger, cinnamon, or fresh mint for a refreshing and good-for-you meal.
Smoothies present so many options to eat more fruits and vegetables. Start by trying one of these 14 Smoothie Recipes That Sneakily Add More Vegetables to Your Diet, then come up with your own satisfying creations.
2. Throw veggie burgers on the grill
Whether you choose a pre-made frozen version or create your own veggie patty, there are many veggie burger options full of delicious vegetables. Depending on the recipe, you could find mushrooms, carrots, peas, beets, zucchini, spinach, and more packed inside a veggie burger (and many boast beans and healthy grains as well). They can be baked, grilled, or even lightly fried. Eat them on a bun with all the fixings – just like a traditional burger – or crumble and spice them up for a healthy taco filling or hearty addition to your favorite marinara sauce.
3. Try clever substitutes
Experts recommend eating “white” carbs, like white rice and pasta, in moderation. While brown or whole-grain versions are good substitutes, why not swap them out with their veggie versions instead?
A quick pulse in a food processor turns cauliflower into “rice,” which can then be used in recipes like these. Use a spiralizer to turn zucchini into “zoodles,” a popular noodle alternative with dozens of wholesome recipes, or roast a spaghetti squash. Some pasta brands also add veggie purees right into their recipes, providing a convenient lunch or dinner option.
4. Emphasize veggies in meals you already like
An easy way to eat more vegetables is to add them to your favorite recipes. Ordering pizza? Get the veggie supreme! Chinese food? Make it a stir-fry! Cooking pasta? Sauté onions, tomatoes, and peppers to go on top. You can even add nourishing leafy greens to many of your favorite comfort foods.
5. Cook a variety of cuisines
Look to vegetable-centric recipes from different cultures to spice up your dinner table! Try a Thai red curry with carrots, kale, and snap peas. Or a Mexican burrito bowl with onions, peppers, and avocado. If you’re feeling adventurous, make an Indian spinach-and-potato dish, saag aloo. Expanding your arsenal of flavors with global cuisines can help you find new favorite ways to add more veggies to your diet.
6. Make salads interesting
Salads make a delicious meal and they’re especially good for you. In fact, leafy green vegetables are tied to better memory and cognitive function, among many other health benefits. But salads can get boring if you don’t mix them up with interesting toppings. Keep ingredients like dried cranberries, slivered almonds, pecans, walnuts, wonton strips, chickpeas, other fruits and veggies, and a variety of dressings on hand to jazz them up. You can eat more fruits and vegetables by having an apple walnut salad one day, an Asian sesame salad the next, and a strawberry pecan salad after that!
7. When in doubt, roast
If there’s a vegetable – or fruit – you don’t care for, don’t completely swear it off until you’ve tried it roasted. From caramelized brussels sprouts to simple roasted bell peppers and delectable oven-roasted fruit, there are few fruits and vegetables that can’t be enjoyed after some quality time roasting in the oven.
Here’s a quick and easy guide on how to roast any vegetable.
By learning how to add more veggies to your diet and embracing ways to eat more fruit, you’re doing your body and brain an incredible favor. June is National Fruits and Vegetables month, so there’s no better time to start than now. Before you shop, use these 10 tips for buying fresh produce. Happy healthy cooking!