As you may have read or heard, the CDC recently released its review on how well we (Americans) have been meeting the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) daily fruit and veggie recommendations. Unfortunately, we haven’t been doing so well. According to the report, less than 10% of adults in the U.S. are meeting these rec’s for daily fruit and veggie consumption—and this number is even lower when looking at the individual state breakdowns.
But what are the recommendations? The USDA recommends that adults consume at least two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables, daily. In this report, however, we were barely able to eat one cup of each—yikes. Even the states with “high” numbers are still not meeting the rec’s—California was at the top, with only 13% eating enough vegetables and 17% eating enough fruit.
What about Ohio? Sadly, only 7.1% of Ohioans are eating enough vegetables and 11.3% are eating enough fruit. What? O-H-Sigh-O.
So what’s going on here? While many of you may like the taste of fruits and vegetables, you might find incorporating them into your day inconvenient as compared to say, a salty, ready-to-eat, no-fuss bag of chips—I get that. However, I’m here to convince you that fruits, and yes, even vegetables, can easily be part of your daily routine. So here we go—this week for Gimme Five Friday, I’m sharing 5 Ways to Sneak in your Veggies:
- Add ‘em to your scrambled eggs in the morning. If you’re already an egg-eater, try sautéing sliced mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and/or garlic in the same pan as your eggs. Not only is this egg-veggie combo delicious, but it brings you one step closer to meeting your daily veggie quota before your workday even begins. BOOM. Need some inspiration? Check out my Sweet Potato Scramble recipe. Not an egg-eater? Try topping a slice of whole-grain (can be gluten-free) bread with mashed avocado, sea salt, and black pepper—while avocado is technically a fruit, it is nutritionally classified as a vegetable. Also, see #4 for another veggie-licious breakfast idea.
- Wrap stuff in your veggies. While building a sandwich on whole-wheat bread stuffed with lean meat, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and other veggies is a great choice, mix it up—try wrapping your sandwich fillings, including veggies, in another veggie. Try stuffing collard greens, Bibb lettuce, romaine lettuce, or some other wrap-like green thing with your usual sandwich fillings—talk about getting a grip on those veggies!
- Have veggies with a side of pizza. First of all, make your pizza at home as much as possible. By making homemade pizza, you can control the quality and quantity of your ingredients—most important being, you got it, those veggies. Start by buying or making your own gluten-free or whole-wheat pizza dough, then top with a store-bought (check ingredients) or homemade pizza sauce of your choice. The last step? Toppings. Your veggies should both literally and figuratively outweigh the rest of your delicious, homemade, personalized pizza. I recommend using sweet bell peppers, artichokes, fresh spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, or some combination thereof. Be creative. The beauty of making your own pizza is that it’s really all up to you. From there, top with fresh, all-natural cheese, throw in the oven, bake, and serve. There you have it—pizza with a side of veggies!
- Blend ‘em. This is a great (and efficient) way to get both fruits and vegetables, as we can drink more quickly than we can eat. Blend ½ cup liquid (unsweetened almond milk recommended), 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, ½ fresh or frozen banana, ½ cup spinach or kale, 1 tablespoon seeds (chia or hemp recommended), and water / ice, to taste (Or, check out my Antioxidant Smoothie recipe). With this simple recipe, you just consumed 75% of your daily fruit needs and about 8% of you daily vegetable needs (without even tasting the veggie part, mind you).
- Dip ‘em. For some, it can be hard to eat cooked vegetables, particularly at lunch. Because of this, raw veggies are a great, crunchy lunch or snack option. However, raw veggies can be boring, especially to those accustomed to snacking on sugar- or salt-laden snacks. The solution? Dip your veggies like there’s no tomorrow. But make sure your dip is healthy—If buying dip from the store, I recommended Greek yogurt-based dips or hummus (Note: always read product ingredient lists to check for things you can’t pronounce, weird preservatives, excessive added sugars, etc.). Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, make a batch of my Greek Yogurt Dilly Dip and start trying (and enjoying) the act of vegetable-eating—your mind and body will thank you.
Eat (your fruits and veggies) well,