Have you eaten any fruits and vegetables yet today? If not, you are not alone. According to a new U.S. Report, 87% of Americans do not meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake. Keep in mind that these recommendations are 1.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. It is still hard for us to hit the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals with that recommendation. For optimal health, I recommend 9-11 servings of fruit and vegetables with a bigger emphasis on vegetables. That is hard to achieve even when making a big effort to increase nutrient intake!
If you are someone that consumes less than the recommended amount, I would start wherever you are and slowly increase your intake of fruit and vegetables. If we increase fruits and vegetables too quickly, it can cause digestive discomfort due to the fiber content and it is hard to maintain a big increase in fruits and vegetables. If you consume 1 serving of vegetables, try increasing it to 2 servings. Keep in mind, a serving of vegetables is a fist.
You can start to increase vegetables by incorporating them in your food at home. Here are some of my recommendations on how to incorporate vegetables in your food to increase consumption:
1. Put spinach or kale in your smoothie
2. Puree vegetables or throw them in your marinara sauce (onion, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, and bell peppers are good examples)
3. Put vegetables in scrambled eggs or an omelet
4. Use sliced vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots and broccoli for dip
5. Add vegetables like onions and mushrooms into tacos or fajitas
6. Use cauliflower instead of potatoes, rice, or as crust for pizza
7. Shred vegetables in casseroles, soups, stews, chili, and meatloaf
8. Add vegetables to your sandwich or even use greens as bread
9. Use Portobello mushrooms as a pizza crust
10. Use bell peppers as a bowl
11. Add vegetables to stir fry’s
12. Use zucchini or spaghetti squash as noodles in pasta dishes
I hope that you can use some of these tips to increase your vegetable intake.
Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!
Staci Tobolowsky, MCN, RD/L