Depending on your current eating habits, you may be wondering, "How on earth am I going to fit in 5 fruits and vegetables every day?!?? AND try to make 3 of them veggies?". Well, here are a few suggestions that might help you out.
**A typical serving size of fruits/vegetables is 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup if it's dried, or 1 cup if we're talking about leafy greens.
Try adding sliced fruits into your cold or hot cereal, make a homemade fruit &/or spinach smoothie (use plain fat-free or Greek yogurt to make it creamy) or add diced tomatoes/peppers/salsa/mushrooms into your scrambled eggs. Get creative! Who says you can't have veggies for breakfast?
This is a great time to fit in your fruits/veg. Instead of filling up on the empty calories of crackers and chips, substitute fresh, RAW fruits such as apples, oranges, strawberries, kiwi, whatever you like. OR try baby carrots and celery but, honestly, I can only handle so much of the carrots/celery combination before I'm BORED so I like to mix it up with different veggies like sliced bell peppers or mini-salads (low cal dressing or none at all), sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper, broccoli, etc. I'll often take 1 cup of plain non-fat yogurt and throw in some frozen raspberries (any frozen fruit will work) and it feels like I'm having a treat, especially if I use the vanilla flavor instead of plain. It's like a cup of heaven mid-day. Just be careful not to go overboard on your serving size with yogurt, it still can pack a lot of calories.
Power up your vegetable soups by using V8 as your base and then fill it full of vegetables (potatoes, corn, beans, tomatoes, peas, carrots, etc) for at least 2 servings of vegetables at dinner (or lunch). I'm sure you've heard it before, but planning your meals with lean protein and 2 vegetables instead of starchy carbs will be a great way to get the veggies in, too! Broccoli, salads, mixed vegetables, occasionally potatoes, they are calorie-dense and we tend to top them with fatty fillers so I try to avoid having them often, squash, sliced cucumbers, etc are all options but there are many, many more. You may want to be careful about HOW you prepare these vegetables. Adding fats like butter, cheese, and cream sauces will not do you any favors, let the veggie's natural flavor shine through. You could also try "vegging up" your spaghetti sauces, etc and the family will hardly notice.
Juice can be a quick way to get your fruits, but it's not going to be your most effective means. Juices are highly concentrated and pack quite a few calories in a small 8 oz serving and it adds up fast! It will be much more satisfying and nutrient-dense if you choose a fresh orange over a glass of OJ. If you do need a quick fruit/veg, such as when traveling or stuck at work, I have found the V8 Fusions (Blueberry Pomegranate & Strawberry Banana) to be lifesavers in a pinch. Each can have 1 fruit AND 1 veg serving. Just watch the labels because some of the varieties do not have a whole serving of fruit & veg.
There are lots of other ways to increase your fruits and vegetables. Hopefully, this will give you a start and get you thinking of what will work in your life and with your family. Please share any tips that have been helpful to you. We'd love to hear your suggestions!
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