7 Sneaky Ways to Squeeze More Fruits and Vegetables into Your Diet
With zero mention of celery juice or sad steamed spinach.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 10 adults eat enough servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This is a scary statistic, not just because of what 90% of adults are eating in place of fresh produce, but because a lack of proper nutrition puts you at a higher risk for life-threatening health issues like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Many people skimp on eating fresh fruits and vegetables for reasons that may or may not have to do with their taste or culinary skills (like living in a food desert). But if the flavor or the inability to figure out how to prepare and incorporate more produce into your diet is what’s holding you back, you’ve come to the right place. We get it—meeting the recommended four servings of vegetables and three of fruit per day can be challenging. That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of *delicious* ways to eat more plants and less processed foods.
Enlist your blender
When it comes to drinking your fruits and veggies, always go for smoothies over juices. Even if your juice is slow-pressed, cold-extracted, or cost you over $10, smoothies will always contain significantly more fiber and nutritional value because you’re blending (and eating) the entire fruit. For extra creamy smoothies in the morning, you can add in half of a zucchini or avocado—they'll add an extra boost of antioxidants, vitamin C, and healthy digestion without making your breakfast taste anything like a vegetable.
Pump up your pasta
Music to our ears: pasta and fresh vegetables are the perfect pair. You can pack plenty of fresh herbs into pesto, stir peas into pappardelle, or add mushrooms to your next ragu. Tomato sauces are particularly adaptable—you can add extra puréed veggies (like peppers and carrots) without noticing much difference in flavor.
Crunch on them
If it’s the texture (or limited shelf-life) of produce that’s got your tongue, here’s a simple solution. Did you know you can slice fresh fruits and veggies—everything from apples and strawberries to kale and cassava—and bake them in the oven to dehydrate them? They’ll roast into crispy chip-like snacks that you can take on the go. Make them yourself or check out the snack section at your grocery store. While many pre-bagged produce chips contain excess oil and fat, bare Snacks offers baked (not fried), crunchy fruit and veggie chips with no added oil or preservatives. You can pair them with your favorite dips, add to your morning yogurt or snack straight from the bag.
Who doesn’t love thick, chewy baked goods? Substitute avocado for eggs and butter in cookies, brownies, bread and beyond for a soft, healthier way to curb your sweet tooth.
Experiment with cauliflower rice
Here at Real Simple, we’re all in favor of this heathy rice replacement. Make it yourself (it’s easy!), or look for pre-cut versions at the grocery store (we love the riced cauliflower from Cece’s Veggie Co). You’d be surprised how mild cauliflower rice tastes—after you stir fry it with ginger, garlic, and herbs or sauté them with parmesan and Panko, you might not even notice the difference.
Roast your veggies
If you think you hate vegetables, it’s possible you’ve just never tasted them when prepared properly. Roasting is a super simple way to cook veggies that best-expresses (even elevates) their taste—a little coating of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and plenty of dry heat gives them a browned, caramelized, deeply delicious flavor. Find out the easiest way to do it here.
Before your eyes glaze over, let’s work on redefining the term ‘salad.’ What salad is: a mélange of fresh (albeit not necessarily raw) vegetables, probably with some form of vinaigrette or dressing on top. What salad isn’t: a depressing bowl of iceberg lettuce with some gloppy, gross grocery store dressing. You can make salads using any type of fresh ingredient you know you love, like cooked grains, fresh mango, roasted eggplant, fresh herbs, toasted nuts, pickles, pineapple, and more. Rules don’t apply.