“It doesn’t have to be a whole head of broccoli or a bowl of raw kale (eww).”
While diets and trends come and go, one thing that every registered dietitian, doctor, health coach, etc. can agree on is that fruits and vegetables are good for you. Although fruit has recently gotten a lot of bad press for its sugar content, truth is that’s a load of bologna. Pretty much the only people who need to consider the sugar in fruit are diabetics. For the rest of the population: keep trying to eat as many fruits and veggies as you can.
Why are they indisputably so good for us? Fruits and veggies are crammed full of vitamins and minerals that aid in the functions of the body. They contain water to keep you hydrated and fiber to keep you “going”. Classified as carbohydrates, they give you energy as well. While most are low-calorie, they are also quite filling. If you’re getting your 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies a day, you’re filling yourself with nutritious options rather than fatty, sugary, unhealthy foods.
Unfortunately, not everyone likes fruits and vegetables. I’ll admit, not every produce item gets me racing to the kitchen for dinner. But there are ways to sneak in your daily dose without too much effort or too much grimaced chewing. Because food is supposed to be enjoyable.
Morning is the perfect time to sneak in some nutrients. Before your groggy brain has time to catch on, stick some blueberries in your morning oatmeal. Place some strawberries on the side of your eggs. If you have a bagel with peanut butter, put some banana slices on it.
If you tend to go the savory route, add avocado to your bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. Load up your scrambled eggs with allllll the veggies – onion, spinach, peppers, tomato, zucchini, and mushrooms. You name it, it can have fruits or veggies added. So simple.
Contrary to popular belief, not all healthy snacks have to be carrot and celery sticks – although carrots with peanut butter make a disgustingly delicious snack. You can have tomatoes and mozzarella, bananas with peanut butter and cinnamon, or simply an apple or some blueberries. Since you’re having fruits and vegetables, the beauty is you can have as much as you want! (Just be careful of the add-ons, i.e. cheese and nuts/nut butters). Snacks are a great way to sneak fruits and veggies in!
For lunch and dinner, one good rule of thumb to live by is ALWAYS have a vegetable on the side. It doesn’t have to be a whole head of broccoli or a bowl of raw kale (eww), just something. If you have a sandwich, load it up with veggies – lettuce, onion, tomato, cucumber, pickles, and more. Having a veggie base, such as a salad, is a great way to make sure you get some veggies in. Throw peppers, onions, peas, and spinach into pastas! Steam some carrots and broccoli on the side of your chicken and rice.
My favorite way to sneak in veggies at lunch is bringing a Tupperware from home. Regardless of whether I made my own lunch or am buying it at work, I have my Tupperware full of cucumber slices, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes ready to go. It takes mere seconds to prepare!
My favorite veggie dinner hack is side salads. You only have to make a salad once to enjoy it for several days/all week. Just make a big bowl full and store it in the fridge!
I’ve found that after dinner is another perfect time for fruit. I’m always craving something sweet, so I like to start with an apple or a bowl of chopped fruit before diving into something less nutritious. Sometimes I’ll be too full to go for the chocolate I have hidden in my pantry. Other times I dive for dates, which are little caramel bites from heaven. Put them in the fridge for the best texture ever. Also they’re super filling.
Check out my post on 5 healthy dessert alternatives for more fruity dessert ideas – especially you chocolate lovers out there.
Truth is it’s easy to work in fruits and veggies throughout our day. When in doubt you can always opt for frozen fruits and veggies, as both tend to be cheaper than fresh and obviously last wayyy longer. I love this option. You can warm frozen berries in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and put them on top of yogurt or oatmeal. Frozen veggies can easily be subbed for fresh during cooking or eating plain on the side – just beware of buttery sauces they may have put on them. I always recommend plain!
Let me know in the comments below if you have any other sneaky ways to eat more fruits and veggies during your day!