You have heard how important it is to eat your vegetables. Did you know that fewer than 15% of the American population receives the proper number of servings of fruits and vegetables per day? These colorful foods contain TONS of nutrients, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that our bodies need to function properly and ward off disease.
If you’re not a fan because…
- You don’t like their taste (you were forced to eat them a certain way as a child)
- You don’t know how to prepare them
…then this guide is for you!
I ate a fair amount of fruits and vegetables as a child, but I didn’t necessarily prefer them. Truth be told, if I could just eat chips or cookies all day, I probably would. But, what motivates me to eat a well balanced diet today is knowing how crucial fruits and vegetables are to my health and the fact that I can literally feel the difference if I skip a day or two without eating these beautiful colors of the rainbow. They are the fuel for our bodies, just like gasoline is the fuel that your car needs to run properly (unless you own an electric car, in which case, it still needs the right type of fuel to run!).
My hope is that the following tips inspire you to eat more varieties and servings of fruits and vegetables and you get to experience the difference for yourself. Eat 6-8 servings each day and attempt to receive 9 different colors each day, and let me know if you don’t feel greater vitality!
Here are 9 simple ways to serve up some colors in your life:
1. Smoothies: smoothies are a quick and easy way to get a few servings of fruits and vegetables into your morning routine.
- A great base for starting a smoothie is by adding 1 cup of liquid such as water, coconut water, or a nut milk of your choice (make sure it is an unsweetened nut milk)
- Add in a handful of leafy greens (spinach, kale, parsley, etc)
- I would blend at this point and then continue on with the other ingredients
- Add a fruit of your choice (berries, apples, banana, etc)
- Depending on the thickness you want to create, you can add in an avocado, nut butters, oats, flax seeds, or chia seeds
- If you want to add any additional flavors to give it a further boost for flavor and health benefits, you can add in cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, turmeric, cacao powder, spirulina, chlorella, etc.
- Blend and enjoy! There are so many different varieties of smoothies, so be sure to try a few out.
2. Soups: Whether you want a hot soup in the wintertime or a cold soup in the summertime, you can make simple soups in about 30 minutes. Soups are another great way to incorporate a few servings of vegetables at a time. Click on the links below to see a couple of examples.
3. Salads: salads, like smoothies, are so versatile! You can create so many varieties depending on your taste buds and add both fruits and vegetables at the same time.
- Start with a base of organic lettuce, kale, organic mixed greens, arugula, spinach, or swiss chard
- Add your preferred vegetables. You can mix it up with raw and roasted veggies
- If you want to get a little crazy, add fruit like blueberries, apples, or peaches
- Add in a protein of your choice (beans, tofu, chicken, tuna, etc)
- Add in a healthy fat like avocado or slivered nuts.
- If you want a heartier meal, you can add quinoa, sweet potatoes, or brown rice
- Drizzle on your favorite salad dressing (make sure it doesn’t contain added sugars or preservatives) and enjoy!
4. Stews: love that crock pot beef stew? Enhance it by adding leafy greens and root vegetables.
5. Sauces: jazz up your favorite cooking sauces, like tomato sauce by adding in other types of veggies, like zucchinis, mushrooms, and bell peppers.
6. Sides: Roast ‘em, grill ‘em, or sauté ‘em!
- I usually prepare different sides of vegetables in advance and create a variety of meals with a protein and healthy fat on the side. Some combinations I like are roasted brussel sprouts, roasted beets, and a side of lightly sautéed kale.
- Simply cut up the veggies and cook them however you prefer, using different spices and sauces to create various flavors.
- You can even enjoy familiar finger foods by using healthier alternatives. For instance, instead of french fries, make sweet potatoes fries. Instead of mozarrella sticks, lightly bread and bake zucchinis, carrots, or green beans for a crunchy twist.
7. Spiralize: There are so many neat kitchen gadgets these days. Have you heard about zucchini noodles aka zoodles? Instead of opting for traditional spaghetti and feeling that carb load come on, try spiralizing zucchinis and lightly sautéing for a few minutes in olive oil and salt and adding your traditional marinara sauce and meatballs.
8. Substitute: Love sandwiches or wraps? Well, you can still have them, but try a green wrap (lettuce or swiss chard) or a spinach tortilla instead of traditional breads.
9. Snacks: Spice up your snacks by adding a favorite sauce or side to them, like hummus or guacamole with carrots and celery
- You can hide your fruits and vegetables in snacks and sweets too. Have you tried zucchini and carrot muffins, sweet potato brownies, chocolate avocado pudding, or pumpkin pancakes? It is all about small substitutions that make the difference!
With so many ways to incorporate fruits and vegetables in your diet, it is hard to find an excuse not to so get some green goodness in your life!