ADDING MORE VEGGIES AND FRUIT TO YOUR DIET (ARE YOU KEEPING UP WITH YOUR 5 TO 9?)

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September is “Fruits & Veggies—More Matters” month. Nutrition experts recommend we eat 5 to 9 servings of veggies and fruits every day. Studies show that hitting this daily goal can help lower your health risks for many diseases, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

This is where you may be asking, “5 to 9 servings? Every day?” Don’t worry … it’s not as hard as it sounds. There are all kinds of ways to fit more veggies and fruit into your diet.

The thing is, the more you eat fruits and veggies and get to know what’s out there, you may just learn to love them. And not just because they’re great for your health. There’s just something about biting into a fresh, juicy pear or digging into oven roasted carrots that can be incredibly satisfying. And, with the bounty of nutrients that are packed into these foods, you may find that you feel healthier and more energized, too.

So if you’re looking to boost your fruit and veggie intake, here are a few tips to get you started:

Breakfast

  • Top off your oatmeal or cereal with bananas, peaches, or strawberries.
  • Stew a couple of fresh apples and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  • Dice up some onions, bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach. Sauté for a few minutes in olive oil then scramble together with eggs for a nutrient-packed frittata.

Lunch

  • Sandwiches and wraps are a great way to pile on extra veggies. Think fresh tomatoes, sliced cucumber, baby spinach, arugula, asparagus spears, red onion, and thin-sliced bell peppers. Get creative and explore different possibilities.
  • Spread a ripe avocado on a piece of whole-grain toast for a creamy dose of healthy fats.
  • Apples, pears, and oranges are easy to transport anywhere you go. Or slice them up and add them to salad greens along with a handful of walnuts or roasted almonds. Add a little olive oil and vinegar as a dressing.

Dinner

  • Sprinkle a little olive oil in a hot pan and sauté some kale, onions, and mushrooms with cubed sweet potato.
  • Fresh corn on the cob can go right in the microwave (leave the husks on!). Cook for about 3 minutes per ear.
  • Look for frozen stir-fry veggies at the grocery store and cook up with a little chicken or tofu. (Remember to go easy on the soy sauce.)

Snacks

  • Put together a small bag of cucumber slices, baby carrots, and grape tomatoes.
  • Keep a re-sealable bag of dried fruits in your desk drawer. (Think cherries, mangoes, apricots, or raisins.) And keep in mind that a ½ cup of dried fruit counts as a full cup toward your daily suggested amount. Two-for-one!
  • Fresh blueberries, grapes, and strawberries are about as easy as it gets for snacking.

Other tips

  • Keep canned fruits like pears, mandarin oranges, or pineapple chunks in your pantry in case you run out of fresh fruit.
  • Frozen veggies are also great to have on hand when you find you’re out of the fresh variety. Frozen or canned veggies also make for a quick side dish when you’re short on time.
  • Try something new! Don’t be afraid to pick up an exotic looking veggie or two the next time you visit the grocery store or farmers market. If you’re not sure how to prepare it, simply search online for recipe ideas. You might just find your new favorite dish.
  • Take part in community supported agriculture (CSA). When you join a CSA, you’ll receive a fresh supply of produce every week from a local farm. It’s a great way to make sure you always have fresh veggies and fruits on hand. For more information, look online to see if a CSA is available near you.

So don’t forget: September is “Fruits & Veggies—More Matters” month. What can you do to add more fruits and veggies to your diet?