produce

4 Easy Ways to Add Fruits and Veggies to Your Diet

March is National Nutrition Month. This is a great time to improve the fuel you give your body — your daily diet. March is all about putting your best fork forward!

Produce is a big part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, most American diets lack enough fruits and vegetables. Dietary guidelines recommend adults get 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables each day. Between 2007 and 2010, only 18% of American adults ate the recommended amount of fruit and 14% consumed the recommended amount of vegetables. Most of us have some room for improvement.

Eating enough produce can help lower your risk for many chronic diseases and help protect you against certain types of cancer. Produce can also help with weight maintenance. Here are some tips to add important fruits and vegetables to what you eat each day. 

Build a Healthy Plate with My Plate!

Meal planning can be easy when you use My Plate (choosemyplate.gov) as a guide. Try these tips:

  • Aim for filling half of your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Try steamed broccoli, roasted cauliflower or a salad with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. 
  • Add a fruit salad or diced peaches.
  • Make sure a variety of colors are represented in the produce you eat. Each will offer different nutrients.
  • When dining out, ask for a vegetable as a side dish or ask for a side salad instead of fries.

Choose Healthy Snacks

Snacks are a great area for you to improve your diet. Instead of choosing chips or sweets, try:

  • A piece of fresh fruit or canned fruit in its own juice. 
  • Veggie sticks with two tablespoons hummus or low fat ranch dip.
  • A handful of raisins or celery and one tablespoon of peanut butter.

Make these foods easy to get to and eat by cleaning and chopping them ahead of time.

Include Easy Side Dishes

Try to keep vegetables on hand for last-minute side dishes.

Roasting your vegetables is a quick and tasty option.

Cook cut-up vegetables seasoned with herbs/spices and a small amount of oil. Cook for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

Steaming or adding frozen vegetables to a stir fry is another quick option.

Keep cut-up greens and vegetables to make colorful salads to go to lunch or to use as a side dish.

Add Sneaky Produce

Adding fruits or vegetables to recipes or favorite meals can be easy with a little preparation and planning.

  • Berries make a great topping for low-fat yogurt or hot cereals. 
  • Throw extra vegetables into your favorite soups or casseroles.
  • Shredded vegetables can be added to meatloaf, meatballs, sauces and breads.
  • Top your sandwiches with a variety of vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes and peppers.
  • Add any vegetable to omelets or frittatas for a colorful breakfast.
  • Add broccoli and cheese to a hot baked potato.
  • Try fruit for dessert. Grilled fruit is especially tasty! Experiment with substitutions such as mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes, or spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Be creative! The possibilities are endless.

Produce is a very important part of our diet and one that most of us are lacking. Try incorporating some of these ideas into your diet for a more colorful and healthy plate!

To get personalized nutrition guidance that can help your family live healthier, visit with a registered dietitian

If you enjoy learning new ways to enhance your family’s wellness, visit Aurora Health Care’s Facebook page and like us!

Meet the Author

Ali Stoffer, RD, is a registered dietitian at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI 

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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