Everybody knows fruits and vegetables are good for you and we should all probably be eating more of them each and every day.
Actually getting more fruits and veggies into your daily diet can be challenging.
We are all busy and of course it is easier to order take-out or go through the drive-thru. Here are some things you can do to up your fruit and veggie intake.
Make a weekly meal plan
I know I tend to harp on this tip, but it truly does help you make healthier choices for yourself and your family.
Take 15 minutes (I like to do this on Sunday afternoon), and look at your upcoming week. Are there nights you have to work late or have other obligations?
Those are good slow cooker days. If you have a few hours on the weekend, try doing some batch cooking. Poach some chicken breasts, brown some ground beef, and my favorite, make a big pot of soup. Those are all terrific time savers to “build” a dinner around.
Have a salad almost every night
Health experts say incorporating raw vegetables into your daily diet is paramount for superior health. A salad is a perfect way to get those raw veggies. It doesn’t have to be a huge or fancy salad either. Just toss some greens with some tomato chunks, cucumber slices, and maybe some grated carrots. Toss with a simple vinaigrette and you are good to go.
My favorite and oh-so-simple vinaigrette is 1 part vinegar of your choice, to 2 parts extra-virgin olive oil. Then, just add a little Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and maybe a minced clove of garlic or some minced shallots or onions. Shake it up in a little jar and you are all set.
Enjoy a “giant” salad once a week
This is a great way to consume lots of vegetables in one sitting.
Along with greens and lots of different fresh vegetables, add some chunks of ham and/or turkey, hard-boiled eggs, shredded cheese of your choice, black or green olives, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm slices, canned chickpeas or other beans (just drain and rinse first), frozen corn (thawed), leftover grilled chicken or steak, and herbs.
Make a soup
Make vegetable soups with lentils or canned beans for a lean and healthy protein. If you make chicken noodle soup, add lots of carrots, celery, onions, and tons of herbs. If making a beef stew, use as many vegetables as possible.
Add vegetables to dishes that might not normally call for them
For example, even picky eaters won’t notice finely minced red bell peppers and onions when they are added to sloppy Joes — just make sure you cook the vegetables until they are super soft. When making a meaty spaghetti sauce, add lots of finely minced bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and garlic.
Make a smoothie
Add a scoop of protein powder, dairy or non-dairy milk, some frozen fruit, and a healthy handful of fresh spinach.
I promise you won’t taste the spinach, but you just added another serving of leafy greens to your meal. There are also lots of “green powders” available that pack lots of fruits and vegetables — look for a brand that uses organic fruits and vegetables.
Eat a vegetarian meal once a week
Maybe soup and salad, or a big pot of greens, pinto beans and some cornbread. If your spouse is a true carnivore (as mine is), grill them a piece of chicken or fish to go along with the veggies.
When making sandwiches, load them up with more than just deli meat and cheese. Add lots of mayonnaise.
Instead of something sweet for dessert, have fresh fruit and some Greek yogurt
If you need something sweeter, drizzle the yogurt with a little bit of honey. You can also puree fruit, such as berries or mango and then freeze to make a sorbet of sorts.
You don’t have to be a health expert to know fruits and vegetables are good for you. Sometimes it just takes a little planning to make sure you are incorporating them into your weekly meal plan. What do you do to make sure you and your family are getting enough fruits and veggies in your diet?
Email me and let me know.
Adlen Robinson is an award-winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at email@example.com.