We all want a healthy family, right? Some of us deal with picky eaters, and when it comes to getting little ones (and sometimes big ones like our husbands or older children) to eat their fruits and veggies, it’s like pulling teeth.
Your mission? Five-to-seven servings of high quality, preferably organic fruits and vegetables every day. Take these tips to heart and in time, eating your daily dose of health-sustaining foods will become your default setting and one that’s all gain, no pain:
1.) Buy more, eat more (veggies, that is)
Just like chips and cookies, the more fruits and veggies in particular you have in the house, the more likely you are to eat them. In other words, leave the bad stuff on the shelf and load the shopping cart with veggies and some fruits (my favorites being the berries). The less access you have to junk food, the more likely it is you’ll make a health-supporting choice when hunger or a late-night craving strikes.
2.) Change your approach
If you’re one of those people who has to fool themselves into eating more fruits and veggies, then make a game of it. Look at every meal or snack you eat and think about where you can sneak in an extra serving of fruits and veggies. Think salads are a bit of a snooze? Then wake ‘em up by tossing in almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, apples, pears, oranges or even some dried cranberries into your salads.
3.) Make cooking ridiculously easy
After shopping, wash and chop your just-bought raw or frozen veggies and store them in the fridge, preferably in glass or BPA-free containers. When it’s time to put a meal together you’ll be able to just grab your pre-prepped, salad-bar style veggies and toss ‘em right into whatever you’re cooking. The result? A much healthier meal with virtually no extra effort. Another bonus? With lots of ready-to-go veggies on hand, you’ll be able to eat perishables in a more timely fashion, so you’ll waste less food.
4.) Make it convenient
5.) Breakfast in 60 seconds
If you have 60 seconds, you have time to blend up a healthy, fruit and fiber-packed breakfast. Reserve a few minutes over the weekend to pre-package your breakfasts for the week so you can move quickly on workday mornings. One of my patients assembles 5 days of smoothie ingredients into individual servings so in the morning all he has to do is grab a container, dump the contents into the blender, add water and press blend. Time elapsed: 1 minute, including blending!
6.) Drink your vegetables
Instead of buying processed, sugared veggie or fruit juices, experiment with whole fruits, veggies and nuts to see how many you can add to super-charge your fruit smoothies with nutrients. Among my favorite, easy-to-blend-in items: avocados, almonds, flax, chia seeds and nut butters, all of which add healthy fats, fiber and nutrients without overwhelming the fruity taste. If you prefer a greener, vegetable taste, either for a smoothie or a power juice, then spinach, powdered greens, mint, carrots, kale, watercress and broccoli are great gifts from the earth that blend beautifully. Another great alternative is a powdered greens drink which will usually contain the equivalent of three or four servings of fruits and vegetables.
7.) Frozen is good
Frozen vegetables, such as peas and carrots, are a great way to make sure you always have vegetables in the house, Mangieri said. They are easy to prepare and keep for a long time. Mangieri recommended steaming them and adding them to casserole dishes. And frozen vegetables are usually just as nutritious as fresh ones , according to Keri Gans, who is a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
8.) Make gradual changes
9.) Cook creatively, dine differently
Update a traditional recipe by tossing as many extra veggies as you can into soups and sauces. Most extra veggies added towards the end of the cooking process won’t change the taste of a dish, so add with abandon. Throw them into a recipe that doesn’t usually include them. For example, add broccoli, mushrooms and cauliflower to a chicken curry or chopped spinach and flax seeds to spaghetti sauce.
10.) Leave room for dessert
A great dessert for instance is a bowl of mixed organic berries with a tablespoon or two of plain unsweetened sheep’s milk yoghurt (and a drizzle of raw honey if you want). It is easy to put together, satisfying and delicious.