Eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be just eating fruits and vegetables. To keep you in the loop, the “5 a day” campaign changed its name to “Fruits & Veggies: More Matters” because the suggested servings of f&v (fruit & veggies) really varies based on age. Don’t get set on a number; rather try to have a fruit or veggie at most of your meals, and it won’t kill you to throw it into some of your snacks. Here are some non-tradition ways to up your intake:
1. Fruit in salad. Salad doesn’t always have to consist of the regular players. Experiment. Some of my favorite combos: 1. avocado + nectarines or peaches + scallions + corn 2.granny smith apple + beets + arugala 3. Watermelon +red onion + feta cheese. YUM.
2. Pasta. Always add veggies. Add fresh tomato or bell peppers into marinara, serve pasta with any stir-fry, add eggplant or fresh tomato to lasagna, throw in cherry tomatoes with pesto, add broccoli to cream sauce or puree cooked cauliflower into cream sauce.
3. Sandwiches. Lettuce (the darker the greens the more vitamins), tomato, avocado and grilled portobellos taste good on all sandwiches and burgers. Add some cucumbers if you like crunch. Peanut butter is rocking with sliced banana, fresh berries, raisins or home-made “jam” (throw some berries on stove; you don’t need sugar but cinnamon never hurts). Can’t go wrong with thinly sliced apples on top of your cheese sandwich.
4. Pizza. If veggie slice is unrealistic for you or your kids, make a “special” tomato sauce with pureed zucchini, peppers and fresh tomato that goes nicely under the cheese.
5. Ice cream or fro-yo. Add fresh fruit.
6. Chips. Buy apple chips (look for brands that don’t have sugar in the ingredient list, like Bare Fruit) or make kale chips. They’re both healthier baked alternatives to their potato counterparts. To make kale chips, take a bunch of kale, cut off leaves from stem and tear into small pieces, add 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, put in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until browned. It’s a good thing to make with kids.
7. Breakfast. Add apple, berries, melon, or banana into pancakes, cereal + milk, yogurt or oatmeal.
8. Poultry, fish, beef, tofu. Heat and then puree berries, apples, peaches, pears, nectarines for a thick, sweet sauce or make a fresh fruit salsa to go on your grilled or broiled protein of choice. Bake a whole chicken with fresh oranges or apples + some apple cider vinegar or orange juice. Dried fruits (apricots, prunes) add flavor, sweetness and moisture to beef stews and other slow cooked meats.
9. Eggs. Veggie scramble, omelets or frittata. Spinach + mushroom is the bomb.
10. Baking. There are tons of recipes that substitute some of the sugar with bananas, applesauce, zucchini and carrots. Zucchini and pumpkin bread are my faves. Nutritionist Ellie Krieger has a ton of good recipes on her site that incorporate f&v into baking.