Add More Fruit & Veggies

by Nicole Olen RD, LDN, CHC

Springtime is finally here!  Soak up that warm weather and take a look around at all the blooming trees, flowers, and plants – including those delicious fruits and vegetables.  Not only do they add a pop of color, flavor, and overall appeal to your plate, but these powerhouses are also packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your body needs (and craves) to make it through the day.  No wonder it is recommended to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables each and every day!  

Feel like you are falling short of this feat?  Let’s discuss some easy steps for incorporating more produce throughout your day!  

Step 1:  Find Your Weakest Link – Think about your typical daily intake.  Do you seem to eat enough vegetables but don’t find the time for fruit?  Are your dinners filled with vegetables, but you don’t seem to be eating enough earlier in the day?  Taking a look at your individual diet is a great starting point to figuring out where and when you are slacking.  

Step 2:  Round Out Your Day – Now that you’ve identified your areas for improvement, take action!  Here are some ideas for adding in fruits and vegetables at different times of the day.

Breakfast

Add vegetables to eggs, omelets, or breakfast sandwiches.  Top off a yogurt parfait or oatmeal bowl with fresh or frozen berries or a banana.  Make a homemade smoothie and add a handful of spinach or another leafy green.  Grab a whole piece of fruit to eat on your commute to work.

Lunch

Load up your salad, sandwich, or wrap with extra vegetables.  Pack leftover vegetables from last night’s dinner.  Add berries or citrus fruits to your salad.  Partner a sandwich or soup with your favorite piece of fruit or fruit cup.  Bring a steamer box or bag of vegetables to make at work – there are a lot of single serving packages available in the freezer aisle.

Dinner 

Add vegetables to soups, casseroles, or crock pot meals.  Grill or roast a batch of your favorite vegetables as a side.  Dice up fruit or vegetables to add to quinoa, brown rice, or salads.  

Snacks

Chop up a variety of vegetables or fruit for easy snacks during the work day or while driving in the car.  Dip veggies in hummus, salsa, or cottage cheese.  Partner fruits or vegetables with a handful of nuts or a scoop of nut butter.  

Step 3:  Avoid Boredom – Once you’ve finally rounded out your day, don’t be afraid to switch up your routine.  The next time you stop at a grocery store, pick up a new fruit or vegetable.  There are so many textures and selections to keep your palate intrigued.  For example, are you getting sick of that same oatmeal with berries every morning?  Try make-ahead egg and veggie muffin bites or a Greek yogurt parfait instead.  These small change ups can lead to long-term success.

Take Home Message:  Fruits and vegetables are so versatile and can be fit into any meal or snack of the day.  Figure out what works best in your schedule, and make a conscious effort to include them more often.  Remember fresh, frozen, dried, and canned options all count towards your daily goals – just watch for added sugars and sodium on the ingredients label!