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Easy Ways to Include Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet

Nutritionists advocate eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and individuals looking to lose weight know that produce is a good choice for snacks when that hunger monster strikes in the middle of the day or after dinner and the candy bar or chocolate cake beckons. So, finding ways to include those servings is essential to good health.

However, grabbing a piece of fruit from the refrigerator or munching on a few celery sticks isn’t the only way to include these nutritional must-dos. There are a variety of more interesting yet simple ways to enjoy fruits and vegetables, so with a little extra planning and some creativity, you can squeeze in those 5 servings without even realizing it. The reward?  More energy, better weight management, a wealth of vitamins and minerals, and a variety of flavors that will make eating more interesting.

Add Fruits and Vegetables to other Foods

If you tend not to enjoy simply chomping on a piece of fruit, consider adding it to another food that you commonly eat. For example, turn plain cereal like puffed rice or corn flakes into something more interesting by adding not only the standard strawberries or bananas but also something a little more interesting, like peaches, raspberries, or even mango. You can even mix a variety of different fruits together and enjoy them with your cereal. For breakfast, these same fruits work well with plain yogurt or cottage cheese. 

You can also add fresh fruit to other morning entrees, like frozen waffles, French toast, or pancakes. Fresh fruit also makes a wonderful addition to a green salad. Top greens with canned mandarin oranges, cranberries/craisins, apples, pears, or strawberries. Use a citrus-flavored dressing as a nice complement. Many of these fruits can also be mixed in with tuna or chicken salad and served over greens. 

Vegetables also help spruce up a sandwich and don’t have to be limited to lettuce or tomato. Add crunchy cucumbers or celery, red or green peppers, or bean sprouts for some extra pizzazz. You can also add veggies to canned soups or to jars of pasta sauce for a unique flavor and some extra bulk with no calories.

Dress Up the Flavor

Think fruits and veggies are bland? If so, you don’t need to eat them as is. There are plenty of ways to add excitement to your produce choices, even without adding a ton of calories if weight loss is an issue. 

Try slicing your apple, for example, and dipping each slice in fat-free caramel dip, available in small one apple-sized cups in your grocery store produce aisle. It’s a sweet treat that won’t add a lot of calories. You can do the same with pears, bananas, or even strawberries. Raw veggies can also be made more interesting by dipping them in low fat dressings like Ranch or Italian, in ready-made dips you can buy in the dairy case, or, in some cases, even peanut butter.

Keep it Simple

Some people shy away from fruits and vegetables because they don’t want to take the time to wash them, slice them, or do whatever it takes to prepare them. However, with grocery stores offering already sliced fruit and ready-to-eat vegetables, preparation becomes quite easy. In many cases, you simply need to tear open the bag or container and eat.

For cooked vegetables, you can pop these bagged, pre-washed veggies in a microwave with some water and steam them in just a few minutes or put them on a cookie sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, and bake them. None of these techniques demand much preparation but the result is a good, hearty addition to any meal and a chance to squeeze in your suggested servings of produce.