By Lewis Martin, Nutrition Director at the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council for Tillamook County Wellness
If you’re like most Americans, you probably have a tough time keeping up with the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables you should be eating daily. Perhaps you were traumatized by your parents making you finish bland plates of steamed broccoli as a kid, or maybe you just find fruits & veggies to simply be… boring. Whatever the case may be, there’s no denying that these plant-based whole foods can pack a serious punch for your health in combating heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even cancer. In this list, we’ll cover ways that you can make fruit & veggie intake go from feeling like a chore, to something you love and adore!
Here are 7 tips to help you eat the rainbow in your diet:
- Stock up, Pack up – If the age-old phrase “out of sight, out of mind” has any merit, then one of the easiest strategies you can apply in eating more fruits & veggies is to simply keep these foods present in your day-to-day life. Keep a bowl of fruit (Apples, bananas, oranges, or any of your favorites) where you normally find snacks at home. Stock bite-size veggies (ex. Baby carrots, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes) in your fridge, and pack them with your lunch to add a refreshing companion to an on-the-go meal.
- Brighten up your Breakfast – Whether you’re a fan of sweet or savory options for breakfast, there are limitless ways to brighten up the first meal of your day with fruits & veggies. Use fresh or frozen fruit to top off cereal, yogurt parfait, pancakes, or even overnight oats. Eggs, cheese, and your favorite colorful veggies (ex. Peppers, onions, tomato) make the perfect trifecta of savory breakfast perfection – try this combo in an omelet, baked frittata, or even wrapped up with beans in a breakfast burrito.
- Mix it up with Smoothies – If you have a blender at home, then you have access to one of the most effective and delicious ways to enjoy fruits and veggies – smoothies! Start with a base of frozen fruit, then add your favorite milk, yogurt, or protein powder. For an added boost, you can sneak a handful of most leafy green veggies (like spinach) without major impact to the delicious fruit flavor of your smoothie. Smoothies are also a great way to repurpose produce that is nearing spoilage. Simply toss old bananas, strawberries, greens, and other fresh goodies in the freezer and enjoy for months in your favorite blended treat!
- Take your Snacks for a Dip – A quick way to spruce up virtually any fruit or veggie is to pair with a delicious dip! Dips can be savory or sweet, and enjoyed pre-made from your local grocery store, or prepared at home. Here are some of our favorites:
- Grill to Perfection – Grilling offers a unique way to enjoy your favorite veggies and fruits, and enhances flavor with high-heat caramelization. Simply place fresh produce of your choice on a preheated grill, and flip occasionally to ensure even cooking. Veggies that are perfect for grilling include corn, squash, zucchini, onions, and peppers. For fruit, halved peaches, pears, pineapple, and plantains are excellent choices.
- Reach Veggie Goals with Casseroles – Casseroles are easy-to-make, one-pot meals that provide the perfect vessel to hide multiple servings of veggies. What’s more, is that you’ll likely have plenty of leftovers for the next day or beyond! Here are some of our favorite casserole recipes to inspire your next one-pot masterpiece:
- Add Fruitful flare to your Baked Goods – Much like smoothies, baked goods provide an excellent way to not only increase fruit intake, but to repurpose fresh produce nearing spoilage. Fruit provides a sweet touch to hearty, whole grain treats, which offer plenty of servings to fit into breakfast and snack time. Here are some of our favorite fruit-tastic baked goods:
- For creative recipes using fruits & vegetables – https://foodhero.org/recipes/healthy-recipes
- For inspiration on using specific ingredients – https://foodhero.org/ingredients