Ideally you should be eating at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. However, the average American gets less than four. Getting your fill doesn’t have to be a struggle. Try these 10 tricks and you’ll be up to nine in no time.
1. Start with vegetables. Before you put anything else on your plate, start with a salad, a heap of green beans, or a stalk of broccoli. After you’ve eaten your vegetables, add the other components of the meal. Since you’re eating your veggies first, when you’re hungry, you’re likely to eat more.
2. Make a super salad. One 7-ounce bag of washed lettuce equals a bit more than one serving. Add a sliced tomato, a diced apple, and a quarter cup of raisins and you’ve just increased that to four servings.
3. Keep it convenient. Either slice vegetables yourself and keep them in the fridge in ice water or buy vegetables pre-cut. Don’t shun canned fruits, either. If they’re packed in unsweetened syrup, they provide a quick, convenient way to get a serving or more. Try canned peaches on ice cream or mandarin orange segments in salads. Frozen vegetables are another excellent shortcut. Throw them into soups or stews without defrosting. Buy bags of frozen chopped onions and peppers for quick starts to dinners.
4. Drink them. Although you don’t get the same amount of fiber in canned fruit or vegetable juice as you do in the whole fruit, it’s still a good way to get a serving or two a day. Add a small can of V8 or tomato juice to your afternoon snack, or throw a banana, a cup of berries, and a container of nonfat yogurt into your blender for a three-fruit-servings smoothie. Sprinkle flaxseed on top for even more cholesterol-lowering power.
5. Get them on pizza. Forget the pepperoni. Order a vegetable pizza. You’ll get sweet, roasted vegetables with every slice.
6. Hide them. Add grated carrots to lasagna or spaghetti sauce. And use potato puree to thicken soups in place of cream.