10 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Eating the suggested amounts of fruits and vegetables per day seems easy but it's sometimes tough to squeeze all that into a busy lifestyle. The key is to use personal favorites in favorite ways. Here are 10 easy ways to load up on fruits and vegetables.
1. Juice it
Try drinking a glass of 100% fruit juice — not a juice "drink" — each morning. Only 6 ounces is needed for a serving. This is also a great time to get that recommended one serving that's high in vitamin C or A. Citrus juices are a natural for vitamin C, and carrot juice and apricot nectar are great vitamin A sources. Combine juices into a unique fruit drink for variety.
2. Make breakfast really count
If you think about it, breakfast is a great time to load up on fruit. Get one additional serving of fruit — or even vegetables — in the morning, aside from juice. Top cold or hot cereal, yogurt, pancakes or waffles with fresh or dried fruit (berries, apricots, bananas, and raisins).
3. Add vegetables to breakfast
If eggs are your pleasure, whip up an omelet with a half-cup of vegetables, such as onions, peppers, mushrooms or tomatoes. Making breakfast pulls its weight with two servings of fruits or vegetables can make a big difference in whether you reach the 5-a-day goal or not.
4. Snack smart
Make snack time count by eating dried fruit, cut-up raw vegetables, or a whole piece of fresh fruit. Vary your selections so that a wide range of nutrients is available to your body. You should examine your diet and see whether you're generally lacking in fruits or vegetables, then use snack time to boost your intake of what's lacking.
5. Strive for a salad each day
Use variety to make salads extra tasty. Dark greens with the most flavors often have the most nutritional punch. One cup of greens makes a vegetable serving. But don't stop there; go for another 1/2 cup of vegetables if possible, to make that salad worth two vegetable servings. Choose favorites, but don't forget about variety. Be adventurous! Salads are a wonderful opportunity to try new and unusual vegetables.
6. Bulk up your sandwiches
To make your sandwiches count for something, load up on vegetable fillers such as lettuce, sprouts, tomato and onion slices (pickles don't count). Wrap-type sandwiches and pita pockets are often easier to stuff with produce than regular sliced bread.
7. Add more vegetables to dishes
It's fairly easy to up the vegetables in stews, soups, casseroles — these recipes are usually forgiving in terms of ingredient proportions. Or, try going vegetarian a few times per week. Going vegetarian one or two nights a week is becoming more of a mainstream eating trend. Using beans, a wide range of vegetables, grains and nuts is the well-rounded way to go meatless.
8. Add colorful vegetable side dishes
Break out of the potato habit and venture out into the wider world of vegetables! Infuse dinner with color, new tastes and textures — the contrast will make a meat entrée taste just that much better.
9. Keep track of servings
Here are some standard serving sizes for fruits:
1 medium piece of fruit (1/2 of a grapefruit)
1/2 cup berries or sliced fruit
1/4 cup dried fruit
3/4 cup (6 oz.) fruit juice
Melon (1/6 cantaloupe, 1" half-moon slice of watermelon)
Serving sizes for vegetables:
1 cup raw leafy vegetables
1/2 cup other raw or cooked vegetables
10. Eat what's in season.
Take inspirational cues from the fruits and vegetables in season: they are the freshest, most flavorful, and most beautiful. Okay, this is a bonus. Choose dishes and recipes that work in well with your lifestyle. Create a repertoire of quick dishes to make and ones to save for when there is more time.
Just remember, keep it simple!