Even for those who enjoy eating vegetables and fruits, it can still be challenging to consume enough quantity and variety. The challenge is even greater for those who don’t naturally enjoy those foods! Here are 12 simple suggestions that can help you start to boost your intake of vegetables and fruits.
1. SET OUT A LARGE FRUIT BOWL. Include apples, oranges, bananas, grapes and cherries, depending on the season. This will make eating fresh, seasonal fruits convenient and in the forefront of your mind.
2. PRE-BAG CUT VEGETABLES FOR SNACK-SIZED BAGGIES. Try bell peppers, carrots, celery, cucumbers, and jicama—or a combination of any ones that you like. Serve with hummus, salad dressing, or nut or seed butters.
3. TRY VEGGIES IN PLACE OF PASTA. Spaghetti squash or spiralized zucchini and sweet potatoes are our family favorites. Use these in place of pasta and serve with tomato sauce, meat sauce, or your favorite sauce. (This is an amazing price for the spiralizer attachment we recently bought for our Kitchen Aid— and Roy is pretty-much obsessed with it! A few weeks later we bought the thin blade attachment too 🙂 )
4. GET KIDS INVOLVED. Take your kids to buy groceries with you twice a month and let them choose a new fruit or vegetable each time. You may just be surprised with what they pick! If you don’t have kids, make a commitment to buy a new food to try yourself! Additionally, have kids help in the kitchen with age appropriate food preparation and cooking. See this 1-minute video featuring our 6-year old helper!
5. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD. Start an outdoor garden—or even a kitchen windowsill garden. Watching food grow inspires curiosity and encourages both kids and adults to try new foods.
6. PACK VEGGIES OR FRUITS FOR SNACKS. Send yourself off to work and your kids off to school with fresh fruits or vegetables instead of chips, crackers, pretzels and other processed snacks.
7. SERVE MORE THAN ONE VEGETABLE WITH MEALS. Roast large trays of vegetables in the fall & winter such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, parsnips, carrots, and beets. In warmer months, cut up a variety of salad veggies such as carrots, cucumbers, jicama, spinach, baby greens, and lettuces. Try to get 2, 3—or even 4—different vegetables with your lunch and dinner meals.
8. INCLUDE VEGGIES OR FRUITS WITH BREAKFAST. Add vegetables to breakfast dishes such as frittatas, mini quiches or soups and add fruit to hot cereals like oatmeal, cream of buckwheat, or even rice pudding.
9. HAVE FROZEN FRUITS & VEGGIES ON HAND. Many kids love to snack on frozen fruit—grapes, blueberries, or small chunks of bananas or mango. Of course, these fruits can also be used for summertime smoothies! Keep organic frozen spinach, green beans, or peas available to “up” the vegetables in soups, stews and other dishes.
10. CONSIDER SIZE & SHAPE. Some people like to bite into an apple whole, while others prefer to eat it sliced. Some may like to eat a sweet potato baked and mashed, while others prefer it cut into cubes and roasted. Before you write off a food (or allow your child to) try it a different way!
11. SHOP LOCALLY. Visit your local farmers market. This is a great way to see what fruits and vegetables are growing seasonally where you live. Aside from growing your own food, this is usually the freshest (and tastiest!) food that you can buy.
12. ADD FLAVOR. Broccoli may taste a bit bitter, but not if you sauté it in some natural teriyaki sauce. Your kids may love pears if you sprinkle some ground cinnamon on the slices. Can you add some peas and celery to the pasta dish if it is topped with your favorite tomato sauce? Find a flavor that you or your kids like and try it on fruits and veggies.
13. ADD TO THE EXPERIENCE. Set the table, use your nice silverware, put on some relaxing music—be sure to add enjoyment to your eating experience. Similarly, what makes food enjoyable for your kids? Usually making it fun! Buy colorful dishes, bowls, and place mats or fun shaped silverware. Our youngest child loves using teeny tiny spoons to savor the experience of her favorite foods! Make sure food is colorful and looks appealing. See this simple recipe for our fun rainbow sushi rolls.