Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month is celebrated in September and designed to encourage people to eat more of these healthy foods. The American Heart Association has many resources at www.heart.org to help you and your family eat healthier this month. Fruits and vegetables do not need to be eaten raw or on their own to count as a serving. Add them to recipes you already make to add color to every meal. Children prefer to eat foods that look bright and colorful, so if you are having a hard time getting your “little one” to eat, try adding some bright berries or carrots to a plate.
Aim to eat different colors to increase the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals you consume each day. Each color contains different nutrients that may help prevent certain diseases. The five main color groups are red/pink, yellow/orange, green, blue/purple and white.
Here are some tips on how to eat more fruits and vegetables without making big changes to your usual diet.
- When making a sandwich, add sliced vegetables like avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach.
- Add sliced bananas or blueberries to your morning oatmeal.
- Spend time one day a week to portion out fruits and vegetables in easy to grab containers to throw in your bag and have a healthy snack in place of vending machine items.
- Add chopped vegetables like peppers and mushrooms to your eggs.
- Replace half of your ground beef in lasagna with chopped vegetables. Use anything in your refrigerator (mushrooms, peppers, zucchini and onions work well).
- Add frozen peas or broccoli to rice when it is almost done cooking.
- When grilling burgers or other proteins, add sliced veggies and fruits to the grill. You can use the veggies to top the burgers or create a grilled veggie salad. Drizzle the grilled fruit with a little honey for a healthy side or snack.
Fruits and vegetables are more expensive at certain times of the year. Look for what is in season to save money. Check out your local farmer’s market to get great deals on what is in season. Proper storing of produce will also help them last longer and reduce wasting money. For more ideas on how to add fruits and vegetables to your menu and storing produce for the longest shelf life check out: American Heart Association – Healthy For Good
Do you have a veggie-packed recipe or a secret for boosting the fruit content of your meals? Share your tips below!