You might struggle to eat enough fruits and vegetables based on the current dietary guidelines from the United States Department of Agriculture because of your schedule, your access to quality produce or maybe because you really just don’t like them.
The latest USDA recommendation is to fill half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, which translates to at least 7 servings per day for most children, teens and adults. The amount of fruit and vegetables you should eat daily depends on your age, gender and amount of daily physical activity.
Here are 10 ways to make sure you’re getting enough fruits and vegetables every day, adapted from USDA Choose My Plate tips for eating vegetables and fruits.
1. Make a smoothie
Combine some of your favorite fresh or frozen fruits or fruits you’ve never tried before in the blender to make a smoothie. There are endless combinations to try: strawberry-banana, mixed berry, peach-banana and many others. USDA recommends using low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt for this treat.
2. Make a salad
The stigma that salads are “boring” is wrong if you’re creative. There are limitless options for salad ingredients. Try standard additions like tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and carrots, but give peas, broccoli, red cabbage, grapes and mandarin oranges a chance, too. Use a light or low-fat dressing to add more flavor, or use a small amount of regular dressing.
3. Eat what’s in season
Purchasing fresh berries, peaches, peppers and corn will provide better flavor than buying them out of season. Eating what’s in season also ensures that you’re eating a variety of fruits and vegetables throughout the year.
4. Keep fresh fruit and vegetables in the kitchen
You’ll more likely grab a banana or snack on an apple if they’re easily accessible on the counter or in the fridge.
To have a quick snack to grab when you’re on the go, prepare veggies by cutting them up in slices and storing them in the fridge. Carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli and cauliflower are some suggestions to make your own relish tray.
5. Keep fruit and vegetables at work
It may be more difficult to keep fresh fruit and vegetables at your workplace unless there’s extra space in the company fridge. Consider keeping packages of dried fruit in your office to snack on.
6. Add vegetables to your favorite dishes
Add vegetables to pasta sauce or add broccoli florets to macaroni and cheese. Add a slice of tomato to grilled cheese, or dice one up to put in tacos. There are numerous ways to incorporate vegetables in the foods you already prepare at home.
7. Include fruit in your recipes
You can adapt the foods you eat so that fruit is included. Fresh fruit can be added to oatmeal, and blueberries can be added to pancakes. Pineapple pairs with cottage cheese, and yogurt can be topped with fruits like strawberries and melons.
8. Grill your vegetables
Grilling vegetables adds flavor and can easily be paired with steak, chicken or burgers. Tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and onions can be grilled and put on skewers
Fruit can be grilled, too. Both firm (apples, pears, pineapples) and soft (peaches, mangoes) can be grilled and eaten alone or added to dishes.
9. Load up on vegetables in soups and stews
Just about any vegetable you can think of can be incorporated into soup or stew. Beans, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, corn and carrots are only some of the possibilities.
10. Make fruit your dessert
If you have a sweet tooth, you don’t have to completely give up your after dinner snack. Add berries to yogurt or make baked apples or pears for dessert.
When you’re keeping track of the fruits and vegetables you eat, remember that fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice all count.
For more ideas of incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet, see the USDA Choose My Plate website.
3 more healthy-eating posts:
- How to eat seasonally this spring March 17, 2015
- National Nutrition Month: Focus on a healthy lifestyle March 8, 2015
- Stay healthy this holiday season Nov. 18, 2014
STAY INFORMED. SIGN UP!
Up-to-date agriculture news in your inbox!