This week we're talking about 10 sneaky ways to get more fruit and veg into your diet.
When it comes to eating healthy, it can be a challenge to make sure you get the recommended servings of fruits and veggies each day. With all the fast food options, tempting ads and grocery store aisles calling your name, it’s much easier to snack out on a drive-thru order of fries, a bag of chips or a sugary, caffeinated drink. When you’re used to reaching for those not so healthy options, it can be difficult to switch it up and opt for a bowl of fruit instead. Maybe you’re concerned that eating healthy means having the same boring meals over and over again. Maybe you worry that you’ll have to settle for lettuce and apple slices every day for the rest of your life. This simply isn’t true! There are several ways you can add healthier choices to your diet without having to cut anything out or lose the flavour and tastiness that you’re accustomed to. You just have to get creative, have fun and experiment. Here are 10 sneaky ways to add more fruits and veggies into your diet, without getting bored or sacrificing the yumminess factor.
- Breakfast Boost:A healthy breakfast is one of the best ways to ensure you start your day off on the right foot. Eggs have been a breakfast go-to for quite some time and the best part is, there are so many different ways you can fix them – hard-boiled, poached, fried, over easy, and scrambled to name a few. This is the perfect opportunity to sneak some added veggies onto your plate in the form of a super simple omelette or scramble. The hardest part is deciding what veggies you prefer - start with a few and add more over time depending on your taste buds. Eggs go well with everything from onions, mushrooms, zucchini, green peppers, tomatoes, spinach and so much more. Your options really are limitless. You can even create egg cups in pretty much the same way. Simply mix your eggs and veggies of choice together, pour into a muffin pan and bake. These are perfect for those busy mornings when you need to grab something and go and are a hit with even the pickiest of eaters. If you’re wanting to find a super simple way to add more veggies to your morning routine, try adding a little extra colour to the mix. Your taste buds will thank you later.
- Amp Up Your Smoothies:One of the easiest ways to get your daily dose of fruits and veggies is to combine them into a nutritious smoothie. This is a quick and easy go-to for breakfast or even a mid-morning/mid-afternoon snack. There are endless smoothie recipes with a plethora of fruit and veggie combinations – no matter what your taste buds crave, you’re bound to find something that suits your fancy. Keep it simple at first. Vary the greens you use and pair them with a variety of fruits to see what your favourites are. It may sound unappealing to think of pairing spinach, kale or avocado with blueberries, bananas or strawberries but don’t be too quick to judge. You can even try adding some lemon or various spices to give your smoothie an extra kick. This is the perfect option for someone who has been on the fence about adding more veggies to their diet. Smoothies pack a punch of healthy vitamins and nutrients that get you revved up and ready for the day ahead.
- Overnight Oats: Life is crazy, and mornings can be one of the busiest times of the day if we don’t properly prepare ourselves. It’s easy to skip breakfast altogether when you’re in a rush, however, this puts you at risk for those mid-morning “hangry” cravings and energy slumps throughout the day. An easy way to avoid this and fuel your body with additional servings of fruit would be to prep some overnight oats the night before. It’s as simple as combining raw oats with plant-based milk or yogurt, letting it sit overnight and throwing on your desired toppings the next day for a healthy, low-calorie breakfast. When it comes to overnight oats, if you can dream it up, you can create it. Overnight oats can be combined with bananas, kiwi, nuts, plums, pumpkin seeds, grapes, peaches, apples and so much more. This is a great way to get that extra dose of fruity goodness while giving yourself a much-needed energy boost to kickstart your day.
- Soup It Up:Soups are a perfect way to ensure that you get more than enough vegetables in one sitting. Not only that, soups are the ultimate set it and forget it meal when you’re short on time but don’t want to sacrifice your nutrition or get derailed on your health goals. Vegetable soup is an obvious choice because it already has a dose of healthy veggies in the mix, however, did you know you could amp up your favourite recipes in the same way? There isn’t a lot of prep work involved in this. You can simply buy canned or frozen veggies and dump them in while you’re cooking for an extra dose of vitamins and nutrients. The great thing about soup is you can make a big batch of it and freeze what you’re not eating immediately for a nutritious meal down the road.
- Get Creative with Pizza: When it comes to adding more fruits and vegetables into your daily routine, pizza isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are several ways you can get creative with this longtime favourite and still get that extra dose of vitamins and nutrients your body needs. For starters, you can go above and beyond the standard cheese, pepperoni and meat toppings and create your own veggie masterpiece with olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, capsicum, eggplant, zucchini and so much more. The only limit is your imagination. To take it a step further and make your pizza entirely with veggies, you can make the crust out of cauliflower as well. You get the added benefit of even more veggies, plus cauliflower is lower in calories and carbs than a regular pizza pie. That seems to be a win-win in my book! And trust me, if my kids (who hate cauliflower) eat it, it must taste ok lol
- Casseroles:Traditional casseroles normally combine meat with potatoes, cheese, rice, pasta and even some veggies already thrown in the mix. They tend to be important staples at family gatherings, holiday parties, summer BBQs and they are the perfect one-dish meal for those busy weeknights as well. Casseroles provide a super sneaky, super-smart way to increase and/or double up on your veggie consumption. By swapping out the grains like pasta and rice for added vegetables you not only lower your calorie and carbs, but you get an extra healthy dose of veggies on your plate. You can use anything from mushrooms, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, tomatoes, broccoli and so much more. The best part is you get a quick, easy AND healthy meal that doesn’t cause you any regret later. Plus, this is a great way to get even the pickiest of eaters on board with eating more veggies because they are literally hidden in plain sight. Follow up this easy dish with a bowl of fruit as an after-dinner treat.
- Prep Raw Veggies:One of the big excuses for not eating a healthier diet is that there is no time to prepare a meal that is both nutritious and satisfying at the same time. However, you don’t always have to cook a huge meal to ensure that you are getting the vitamins and nutrients you need. In fact, a super-easy way to add more veggies to your day is to serve them as is, no stove required. According to the National Institute of Health, certain vegetables lose some of their micronutrients during the cooking process so eating them raw may have added benefits. Having raw veggies easily on hand doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to prep. In fact, most of your time will be spent cutting and bagging them up to go in the fridge so they can easily be pulled out when you want them. Serve your raw veggies with hummus or another healthy homemade dip (see Pinterest for a variety of recipes). Raw veggies like cucumbers, zucchini, capsicum, radishes and carrots are great for snack time, as part of your lunch or as an addition to a bigger meal in the evening. They are also great to have on hand for salads as well.
- Liven Up Your Faves: Just because you want to add more fruits and veggies to your diet, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop eating those things that you already love. You can easily make this a win-win situation and give your favourite meals a twist by adding more veggies to the mix. Try adding a little broccoli to your mac and cheese or swap out the shell for a lettuce wrap on taco Tuesday. Add capsicum, onion, spinach and grated carrots to your spaghetti sauce or meatloaf or mix some zucchini in with your lasagna. There are a ton of ways to tweak your favourites without sacrificing the flavour you’ve come to know and love. Start slow and experiment with a few veggies at a time – you don’t want to overwhelm your taste bud all at once. Work your way up and have fun with it. Eventually, you may find that you love the new version even more than the original.
- Eat the Dessert: Maintaining a healthier lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to skip dessert for the rest of your life. In fact, what if you could eat more dessert and still get the nutrition you need to walk away guilt-free? It’s 100% true. Vegetables can be used in a variety of ways and are good for way more than just casseroles and smoothies. For starters, you can add some grated zucchini to your brownies, muffins and cookies or give carrot cupcakes a try. Blend up a bunch of fruits and veggies and freeze them into green smoothie pops or whip up some chocolate peanut butter avocado pudding. There are so many delicious options that offer the best of both worlds. This is an excellent way to talk the kids into an extra dose of veggies as well. Of course, a bowl of fruit is always a perfect after-dinner treat as well but if you’re looking to put on the bakers' hat, this is a great place to start. You’ll never want to pass on dessert again.
- Load Up Your Lettuce:Many people think that eating a more plant-based diet means you have to eat salads for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This simply isn’t true. While salads are a great way to combine a multitude of healthy veggies, there are many other uses for those leafy greens. When you get creative, you’ll see how well lettuce can multitask. For example, you can ditch the normal taco shells, hamburger buns and sandwich bread to create a yummy lettuce wrap instead. You can even throw lettuce in your next green smoothie and drink it up or eat it like a cracker with your favourite dip or spread. Pretty soon you could be eating lettuce at every meal without even touching a salad bowl. Experiment with the different ways you can mix lettuce in with your everyday meals and give yourself that added nutritional boost of leafy greens without the salad dressing.
Adding more fruits and veggies to your diet is one of the best things you can do for your overall health – and there are so many simple, sneaky ways to do it! If you’re just beginning this plant-based journey, don’t overwhelm yourself right at first. Start slowly by having a smoothie or some overnight oats in the morning and maybe a lettuce wrap or bowl of fruit during your evening meal. Small steps lead to big changes over time and it can really impact how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. By taking those baby steps right now, you are building a solid foundation that will provide a much healthier lifestyle for you and your family in the future.