Everyone knows vegetables are important for a healthy lifestyle, but not everyone gets the recommended amount. The USDA’s Dietary Guidelines suggests that adults eat between 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. This amount depends on factors such as age, gender and physical activity. Eating healthy is hard enough in a world full of fast food and sugar, but according to food psychologist Marcia Pelchat, while we’re born with certain cravings, there’s also evidence we start to crave whatever we eat in large quantities. This means the more fruits and vegetables we eat, the more we will start to crave them. Here are some helpful tips on how to eat more vegetables and fruits.
1. Sneak them
Pizza anyone? Instead of loading your pizza with sausage, pepperoni and extra cheese, add sliced tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Take it slow by replacing just one topping at a time with a delicious vegetable of your choice.
2. Sauce them
Dressing can be fattening and full of sugars, but can help entice you into eating veggies. Instead of full-fat ranch, opt for a low fat version, or make your own sauce with olive oil and lemon juice. Spice your veggies up with cheese or seasonings to make them more desirable.
3. Freeze them
Who doesn’t love popsicles? Make your own by blending up fruit and sneaking in some veggies then freezing it in popsicles molds. Or add the mixture to ice cube trays and add to your favorite beverage.
4. Soup them
If it’s too cold for veggie popsicles, try adding them to soups. Canned veggie soups are full of sodium and not-so-fresh vegetables. Make your own soup by adding leftover veggies, meat, rice and beans to a slow cooker with either vegetable or chicken broth.
5. Juice them
Juicing has become a huge trend for people who want to add more fruits and vegetables to their day, but don’t have time to actually eat them. Juicing is a great way to get antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients into your body quickly. Since you are not heating or cooking vegetables when you juice, you help preserve these important enzymes. Juicing does remove a lot of fiber, so don’t make juice the only way you get your fruits and vegetables.
6. Blend them
Smoothies are not only quick and easy, but they make a perfect meal. Keep some spinach or kale leaves in the freezer and toss a handful into your fruit smoothies to give it a veggie kick. Add a scoop of Go Greens or Extreme Berries for added antioxidants.
7. Swap them
Swap one meal a day for a meatless one. Instead of a chicken sandwich for lunch, try a grilled veggie sandwich with black beans. Replace your meatballs in your spaghetti with tomatoes.
8. Bake them
Did you know avocado can be used in place of butter? Swap avocado for butter or oil in cake, cookie or brownie recipes. You won’t taste the difference and you will be getting a serving of vegetables in your dessert, plus heart healthy fats. Go ahead, have two brownies!
While it may take a while to start craving fruits and vegetables, these little tricks will help you get more of these healthy nutrients into your diet.
1. Cohen, Elizabeth. Train your brain to crave healthy foods. CNN.com. Retrieved February 15th, 2013 from http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/08/04/ep.brain.crave.cohen/index.html
2. Ko, Lisa. (August 11th, 2011). Juicing. PBS.com. Retrieved February 14th from http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/juicing/10814/
3. Magee, Elaine. Eat Your Vegetables: 15 Tips for Veggie Haters. Retrieved February 16th, 2013 from http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/eat-your-vegetables-15-tips-for-veggie-haters