We all know that we should eat a variety of foods to be healthy. Most of us know we should be eating five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day . . . but knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they?
Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like most, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of munching on an apple or a few mouthfuls of roasted broccoli. So we’ll have to get creative. Here are a few simple ideas to add some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet. Try one this week, and comment below to let me know how it went!
1. The easiest way to get ahead on your fruit and veggie count is to start the day with a breakfast smoothie. Yes, yes - smoothies are super trendy right now and there are a zillion recipes out there boasting the best tastes and most health benefits, coercing people to buy powders and add-ins, but don't be fooled. It's always better to eat whole, real foods! All you have to do is throw some fruits, whole milk yogurt, and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of almond butter for a protein boost. A handful of rolled oats can help thicken it, and add a cookie-like flavor. Bonus points if there are veggies in there too! Just blend for a few seconds and you have a perfect, balanced breakfast ready to go. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup as I go about my morning. To make it even more appealing for your kids, let them help choose what fruits and veggies go into it - They are more likely to eat it if they get to decide and they may even come up with a new favorite combination of tastes!
2. Create or buy a veggie tray on a regular basis so everyone has easy access. It’s much more enticing to grab a slice of sweet red pepper if it’s already cut up and ready to pop into their mouth. If you’re making your own, it doesn’t have to be anything over-the-top or Pinterest worthy. Keep it Simple with 3 choices - two of their favorites and one they either haven’t tried or perhaps isn’t on their preferred list. This will provide an easy bite when needed and may expand their tastes past the usual choices. My family will try things in this way that they wouldn’t touch if I offered it to them or just put it on their plates.
3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some banana, sliced apples, or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, shredded carrots, and anything else that sounds tasty. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread. Use any leftover veggies from yesterday’s veggie tray and let your family decide how they want to stack them into their “sammy”.
4. Have a salad bar at dinner. Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese, croutons, nuts, or seeds for an added crunch, as well as several choices of salad dressing along with lettuce or mixed greens and let everybody create their own concoction of what they consider to be the perfect salad.
5. What’s more fun than a dip? Especially to kids? Possibly nothing! Try different flavors of hummus, nut butters, stir some herbs into yogurt, or try out a variety of sauces and condiments. Dips of all flavors and textures are a great way to get family members to try new things and when the vehicle is a fruit or veggie, you can’t go wrong.
6. Instead of something packed with refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, try this for dessert - put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit. Sliced frozen peaches, nectarines, and berries are also delicious when topped with a small amount of milk or cream.
7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip. Ants on a log is always a hit in our house. Get creative with this old favorite! Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle nuts, seeds, raisins, or dried cranberries on it.
8. Try new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to pique your family’s curiosity. With a little luck, their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, jicama, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store. Have you heard of Romanesco? You won’t be disappointed!
9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. Both of these make great comfort food when the weather gets cold. Soups are a perfect way to pack in those nutrients to boost the immune system, help with digestion, and give your body a break from heavy meals.
10. Start “My Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. When you’re making your grocery list, stock up on a variety of veggies and then when it’s their turn, they can pick from what you have on hand. Take it a step further and let them decide how it’s prepared or even help prepare it.
This is just a list of ideas, along with a lot of information. Instead of getting overwhelmed by thinking you have to make all of these changes today, Keep it Simple and Sustainable by breaking it down . . . which one are you going to try this week? Let me know in the comment box below!
Here’s to your health,
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