Written by Krista Leischner under the direction and review of Nikki Prosch, former SDSU Extension Health & Physical Activity Field Specialist.
“Eat your fruits and veggies!” You have probably heard this saying since you were a little kid and perhaps you are now telling your kids to do the same. There is a reason we are encouraged to eat our greens from a young age; these colorful foods are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. The USDA recommends adults consume two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables per day.1 Getting those five cups each day may seem difficult, however, here are some tips to help you easily incorporate more fruits and vegetables each day.
Tips: Getting your 5 cups
- Start your day right.
Breakfast is the perfect time to get your first cup, just add a piece of fruit to your routine. Add a banana to peanut butter toast, blueberries to oatmeal, or strawberries to a smoothie.
- Have a snack.
Keep some dried fruit on hand and at work. This is a great snack and adds up quickly. A half cup of dried fruit is equivalent to one cup from the fruit group. You have already consumed the recommended amount of fruits for the whole day!
- Add a veggie.
Whether packing your lunch or eating out, it is easy to incorporate a cup of vegetables. Choose carrots instead of chips, add lettuce and tomatoes to a sandwich, or enjoy a cup of 100% vegetable juice.
- Choose convenience.
Canned fruits and vegetables are affordable, shelf stable, and cut down on preparation time. These can be easily stored at home or at work. When purchasing vegetables, look for the “no salt added” or “lower sodium” labels and when purchasing fruit, make sure it is in 100% fruit juice.
- Stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables.
These are often picked at their peak and frozen immediately. They do not require any peeling or chopping and are easily cooked in the microwave. Add some steamed broccoli or peas and carrots to your plate for another cup of vegetables.
- Disguise your vegetables.
You can easily “hide” mild flavored vegetables (such as zucchini) in casseroles by chopping or shredding them finely. Try adding spinach to pastas or onion and celery to your favorite beef dishes! Not only will you get another cup of vegetables, but the vegetables will blend into your meal without changing its flavor or texture.
Reference: USDA Choose MyPlate