How to plant more fruit and vegetables in your diet
These easy ways to eat more fruit and veggies will surprise you.
The command “Eat your veggies” might have been unwelcome when you were a child — but it’s good advice at every age. And now that you’re grown, the secret is out: Eating more produce can be easy and delicious.
Benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables
A handy way to see how much you’re eating? Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
So, how many servings of fruit and vegetables does that equal? “The average person needs between four and five servings of fruit and vegetables per day,” says Mallory Hammer, a wellness associate at Geisinger Health Plan.
Eating more plants benefits you in more ways than one. Piling your plate with produce helps:
- Stabilize blood sugar levels
- Protect you from developing certain types of cancer
- Decrease your cholesterol
- Reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke
“Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is also a great way to increase your fiber, which can help you stay full longer,” Ms. Hammer says.
Besides these benefits, veggies and fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Since you can’t get all your nutrients from a single type of fruit or vegetable, eating the rainbow can help.
What does “eating the rainbow” mean?
“Eating the rainbow refers to eating fruits and vegetables of all different colors,” Ms. Hammer says.
If you’re unsure where to start, head to your local grocery store or farmers market. You’ll find tasty options in every hue, like:
- Sweet potatoes
Blues and purples
- Purple cabbage
White and brown
Want to be sure you’re getting enough variety? Ms. Hammer offers this suggestion. “Take stock of your grocery cart when shopping to see how many colors you have and what’s missing. Try simple swaps like choosing red, orange or yellow bell peppers instead of green, or picking a purple cabbage over a regular one.”
Look for a fruit or veggie you haven’t tried before to get even more creative. Think about trying kohlrabi, dragon fruit or celery root.
Consider the season
When looking for your colors, don’t forget to shop the seasons.
Produce prices fluctuate throughout the year based on what’s in season. The fresh, juicy watermelon you’re dreaming of in the winter costs more than it does in midsummer. And it doesn’t taste as good.
You don’t have to spend a lot to eat well. If you can’t find what you’re looking for fresh, consider frozen. “Frozen fruit and vegetables are available at a reasonable price year-round and are just as nutritious as fresh,” says Ms. Hammer.
Eating more fruits and vegetables: It’s a good thing
A hearty salad is a good way to take in a few servings of veggies (or fruit) for many of us. But if salad isn’t your thing, it’s easy to plant more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Try these tips to get started.
- Be a “souper” star. Soup is an excellent way to incorporate veggies into your menu. Besides using your new ingredients, soup gives you the flexibility to add any scraps you might have languishing in the fridge. Get your pot or slow cooker ready and try these fan favorites:
- Savory butternut squash
- Creamy carrot
- Chunky vegetable
- Pasta e fagioli
Want to make your soup a little heartier? Add your favorite meat or meat substitute for a satisfying lunch or dinner. And for even more produce power, add a piece of fruit for dessert.
- Make a smoothie. Making a smoothie gives you a lot of bang for your buck, combining fruits and veggies into one delicious glass. They’re easy and filling. And they’re portable. Search for a recipe online or try your own combination.
- Get resourceful. One solution to getting more produce in your diet may be right in your fridge. Have some mushrooms you need to use up? Cook them in with your taco meat. Use pureed carrots in your macaroni and cheese. Fry up past-their-prime peppers and onions as a side dish. Add a clementine to your salad. Use what you already have to boost your fruit and veggie intake.
- Don’t forget dessert. You already know that fruit makes for great desserts. But what about vegetables? Consider making black bean brownies, lemon zucchini bread or chocolate beet muffins. These treats taste so good that you’d never know they’re loaded with veggies.
Eating more fruits and vegetables each day isn’t something that happens overnight. Maybe you can add a salad to lunch or dinner once a week. Or snack on raw veggies and hummus instead of chips. Perhaps it’s trying a new fruit or throwing together a stir fry. Small changes can mean big progress over time. If you’re not sure where to begin, start by rethinking your plate.
“Aim to include fruits and veggies in as many of your meals and snacks as possible,” Ms. Hammer says.
Still stumped for ideas? Head to your phone, computer or digital assistant to find a recipe. Try preparing your produce different ways — sautéing, grilling, baking or roasting. You’ll be surprised by how good they taste.
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