September is “Fruits and Veggies More Matters Month,” so it’s a great time to talk about how to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet! Fruits and veggies are very versatile foods. They can be added to many meals as a healthful topping. Many of them taste good cooked as well as raw. Let’s explore some interesting ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into your meals and snacks.
Here’s how to get veggie-fied and fruit-afied…
- Top this! Having cereal? Top it with sliced strawberries, blueberries, or sliced bananas. Top salads with dried fruits, bite-size chunks of apples and pears, or mandarin orange slices. Toss some fresh berries into your yogurt or on top of a dish of ice cream. Slice fresh peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes to use as toppings on a homemade pizza.
- Keep ’em reachable. Leave a bowl of fresh fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, like apples, bananas, and navel oranges, on the kitchen counter; when you’re craving a sweet treat, these fruits will be easy to grab, and the colorful fruit basket is likely catch your eye before a sugary or salty snack food. Keep individual servings of carrots, celery, and grapes in sandwich bags in the fridge so you or your kids can quickly grab them for a snack.
- Get soupy. You can make a hearty and healthy fall/winter soup from low-sodium broth, a can of beans, and your favorite veggies. If you’re pressed for time, use canned or frozen veggies; if you have the time and you enjoy cooking, why not chop up your own veggies? Either way, it’s a simple and healthy one-pot meal, and leftovers can be frozen for future lunches and dinners. In the spring and summer, puree berries to make colorful chilled soups that could function as appetizers or desserts.
- Grow your own. Get the whole family engaged in creating a backyard garden. Don’t have a backyard? Plant tomatoes or herbs in pots. This is a family project that allows you to reap some truly delicious rewards. Check out this “Fruits and Veggies More Matters” how-to guide on growing your own garden.
- Break free from the norm. Is your family bored with having green beans as a side dish night after night? Visit the grocery store and scour the produce and frozen sections to find new and interesting fruits and veggies to try.
- Transform old favorites. Love lasagna? Consider making a vegetable lasagna. Swap out chicken parmigiana for eggplant parmigiana. Replace your child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Baking a cake? Add some applesauce to the mix for extra moisture.
- Skip the bun. Instead, use lettuce as a wrap for shredded sandwich meats. Wrap your pulled pork, chicken or beef for a taco, or Sloppy Joe meat in a large lettuce leaf.
- Drink ’em. If you have a blender, you can turn some of your fruit and veggies into smoothies. Pour your smoothie into a reusable travel mug, and now you have a good excuse to skip the pre-work Starbucks run.
- Use them as an excuse for a field trip. If your family is looking for a fun weekend activity, take the kids to a local produce stand or farmer’s market and encourage them to help choose some fresh fruits and veggies for the whole family to enjoy later. In the fall, go apple picking or to a pumpkin patch.
For the best advice on adopting a more diet with fruits and vegetables, talk to your primary care physician or a nutritionist. If you’re in-between doctors or don’t have a nutritionist, consider asking an advocacy service for help. Services such as Health Advocate and Health Proponent can connect you to a variety of medical providers who can help you and your family achieve your dietary goals.