Research has shown that individuals who consume at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables per day have as much as a 42 percent reduction in their overall death risk over the next eight years; compared to those who only eat one serving. At the same time, a recent government report indicates that nearly nine out of ten Americans aren’t eating enough vegetables (two to three cups per day) and three out of four aren’t eating enough fruit (one and a half to two cups per day).
With those startling statistics in mind, here are 14 flavorful ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables into your diet:
- Put cauliflower in your pizza crust: It’s not going to taste like a fresh-baked pie that was just pulled out of the oven at a Tuscan trattoria, but swapping your traditional pizza crust recipe with a cauliflower crust can not only save tons of calories, it’s a great way to incorporate this nutritional dynamo into a meal.
- Have fresh fruit at-the-ready: Rather than stock your desk at work with a bunch of 100-calorie chip packs try putting a few apples or bananas in there instead.
- Put eggplant into your lasagna: A yummy twist on a classic Italian favorite, use thin slices of eggplant instead of noodles—you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference.
- Have dessert: Incorporating fruit into your dessert is a wonderful way to eat healthier without abstaining from one of life’s great pleasures. Try bananas, strawberries, and pineapple dipped in dark chocolate; frozen grapes; or home-made Greek yogurt popsicles with chunks of real fruit .
- Make spinach palatable in a smoothie: Not a fan of leafy greens? A well-made smoothie can help you stomach spinach, kale and other good-for-you greens that are hard to eat on their own. Check out these yummy green smoothie recipes for some inspiration.
- Celebrate seasonal vegetables: Every vegetable has its season—the time of year when it reaches the peak of its natural freshness. Pick a new seasonal veggie to try each week, and have fun experimenting with dishes that incorporate it as an ingredient.
- Make fruit and vegetable chips: Thinly-sliced pieces of apple, banana, kale, and plantain, seasoned appropriately, then baked in an oven can help die-hard potato chip fans curb their cravings in a healthier way.
- Use lettuce as a wrap: Roll some mildly-spiced chicken, low-fat beef, or shrimp into a cool, crisp leaf of bib or butter lettuce to get a perfectly-balanced bite with a much lower calorie count.
- Exchange mushrooms for beef in spaghetti sauce: Want to cut down on the amount of beef in your Bolognese? Switch out half of the meat with the same amount of chopped up mushrooms. Mushrooms are a hearty vegetable that will easily take on the flavors of the tomato sauce; decreasing the calories and fat without sacrificing taste.
- Veggie spaghetti: Speaking of pasta sauce…there’s a new trend out there to help all of the pasta lovers out there get their fix in a healthier way. Special kitchen tools called “spiralizers” can be used to turn a variety of veggies—from zucchini to carrots to kohlrabi—into pasta-like strings that can be used in place of flour-based noodles in a variety of dishes.
- Put pumpkin in your pancakes: Just in time for fall! There’s no pumpkin or waffle batter that can’t be made better by the addition of some pumpkin puree. Just make sure you follow a recipe to keep the right consistency in your hotcakes.
- Avocados in your pudding: Avocados and chocolate pudding may seem like a recipe for disaster, but these creamy fruits can elevate even the most basic mixes while providing a beneficial does of nearly 20 vitamins and minerals. Avocados can also use as a substitute for butter in most baking recipes.
- Shredded veggies in your casseroles: This tip can be applied to practically any category of casserole. Finely shred some carrots, zucchini, or summer squash and slip them into the dish before baking. Bet you can’t tell the difference.
- Spinach brownies? All we can say is try the recipe.
As you strive to enhance your healthy habits, it can be helpful to have professional guidance and support. Fitness Together Ellicott City offers nutrition programs that are developed by dietary experts and can be customized to fit your body’s specific needs. For more information, give us a call today at 410-750-2228, or stop by and meet our one-of-a-kind fitness and nutrition team.