It may seem like getting seven to nine servings of fruit and veggies each day is unrealistic, but follow these tips and you’ll meet your goal.
Are you looking for ways to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables? If you are like most Americans, you probably only get one to two servings a day, well below the seven to nine servings now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Though seven to nine may seem daunting, there are plenty of fun and delicious ways to get more fruits and veggies into your daily meal plan.
Creative suggestions for increasing fruits and veggies
First, consider that any of the following equals one serving:
- 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables
- 1 cup of raw vegetables
- 1 small piece of fruit
- 1/2 cup diced fruit
- 4 ounces of 100 percent juice
Now, follow the easy suggestions below. You’ll have your fruit and veggie intake up in no time. Along with feeling less hungry, you’ll also get loads of vitamins and minerals.
Fruits can be paired with a meal or eaten at snack time. Go for two to four servings a day. Then increase your vegetables for the rest of your quota.
- Mix fruit right into your hot or cold cereal. Try apples, bananas, berries, or peaches.
- Pack a piece of fruit in your work lunch bag. Apples, pears, oranges, and clementines are great in the winter. Plums, peaches, and nectarines are perfect in summer. You can also pack berries or diced melon in a tupperware container.
- Spruce up yogurt or cottage cheese. Diced fresh fruit (bananas, pineapple, peaches) or berries make a delicious addition.
- Snack on a handful of dried fruit. When snack time cravings hit, a little dried fruit (raisins, apricots, cherries, prunes) mixed with 2 tablespoons of nuts or seeds just might hit the spot.
- Make a fruit smoothie. Blend frozen fruit (berries, bananas, pineapple, mango) with low-fat milk and yogurt or orange juice.
- Sweeten your salads. Fresh fruit makes a wonderful addition to mixed greens, chicken, or tuna salads. Think strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, kiwi, or mangos in green salads. Sliced grapes or diced apples work well in chicken or tuna salads.
Remember, veggies should take up half your plate at lunch or dinner, not be an afterthought to the meat and potatoes.
- Create veggie-based meals, like winter squash stuffed with brown rice, vegetarian chili, or a hearty bean and vegetable soup.
- Puree cooked veggies in a blender and add to soups or sauces. This gives a creamy texture without the cream. Try combining onions, carrots, and zucchini for a sweet, tasty blend.
- Use bagged lettuce or spinach for a quick and easy salad. Or tear open a prepacked bag of shredded cabbage or shredded broccoli (broccoli slaw) to use as a base for a crunchy salad.
- Bulk up plain pasta sauces, stir-fries, or chili dishes with extra veggies such as mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, and onions.
- Pack some raw vegetables in your lunch, such as mini carrots, celery strips, slices of sweet red pepper, or grape tomatoes, and bring them to work.
- Use frozen veggies. There are lots of great frozen veggie options that can be heated in the microwave or right on the stove in minutes. Eat them as-is or add them to soups or stir-fries.