Easy tips for getting more fruits and veggies in your diet
While many debate what the "perfect" style of eating is, most can agree than the best diet includes plenty of fruits and veggies. For someone adopting a "healthy" diet, it can hard to know how increase that intake without always resorting to a huge salad. While a huge salad can be great sometimes, it can get old if that's how you're getting all your veggies in. Here are some tips to make it easier and even a little more fun!
Make a game of it. Remember Roy G. Biv from school? You can find fruits and vegetables that represent every color of the rainbow (including white) and each of those colors represents a different type of phytonutrient. Not only do fruits and vegetables give us vitamins, minerals and fiber, but they also provide added protection through phytonutrints to include protection against heart disease and cancer, keep your blood healthy, boost your immunity, keep your eyes young, and reduce inflammation. Make a game to include 5 different colors of fruits and vegetables everyday. By doing this, you will automatically boost your intake (and create a BEAUTIFUL plate at the same time).
Visualize your plate. Ever look at your meal and wonder if you're eating enough fruits and/or veggies? If you consistently fill (at least) half of your plate with fruits and veggies, you will know for sure. This is also a great way to reduce calorie intake while staying full.
Snack on fruit. This is easy to do. Just remember to always pair it with a good fat and/or a good protein. Think apple and peanut butter. Cherries and hemp seeds. Pineapples and coconut flakes.
Explore different preparation techniques. If you're getting tired of salads and steamed veggies, then it's time to try something new. Sautéing, roasting, grilling, and blending (perfect in soups) are all great ways to change the taste and texture of a veg and make it your favorite again.
Don't forget your starchy veggies. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are my favorites! Just because they are sweet, creamy and comforting doesn't mean they're not good for you. That bright orange color means they are rich with phytonutrients. Make them part of your diet as your super-charged carb!
Always eat your greens. It's hard to deny the power of greens. Greens come in many forms like spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, bok choy, arugula, dandelion, beet, and mustard. They can definitely be an acquired taste and are intimidating to some. But they don't have to be. To start with greens, first try the baby variety (think baby spinach or kale that you see pre-washed in bags or clamshells). Their taste and texture will be more tender. Don't think that you have to eat them raw. Try this for an easy and quick preparation technique (p.s. my kids love them like this...or at least will eat them):
Easy Sauteed Greens
Cover the bottom of a small frying pan with water or chicken stock and little extra virgin olive oil if you'd like.
Set heat to medium. After the stock is slightly simmering, throw in a large handful of greens.
Greens shrink to about 1/4 their size after cooking, so plan accordingly (this also gives you the benefit of eating A LOT without even trying).
Once greens are mostly wilted, but still bright green, remove from the heat. They will continue cooking from residual heat.
Here comes my big secret. Just before you serve them, add a splash/dash of something salty and something tangy. Good combinations are: sea salt and lemon juice, soy sauce and apple cider vinegar (try raw varieties like Bragg’s) or soy sauce and ume plum vinegar. Those are my favorites, but just remember salty and tangy (acid).
Eat these greens with everything! Choose your salty and tangy to suit the meal you are serving.
Try a smoothie. Smoothies can be a great meal anytime during the day. They are especially convenient for when we're on the move, but we still need good nutrition. Combining the right flavors can lead to a truly yummy meal. Don't be tempted, however, to use all fruit. All fruit with little else blended in will lead to a big spike in your blood sugar...not what we're going for. Add in veggies to your smoothie for a good balance. The best veggies to blend are carrots (good with apples), cucumbers, romaine, and spinach.
1 cup romaine lettuce
handful baby spinach
1/2 small cucumber
freshly grated turmeric and ginger (to taste..start small)
1 granny smith apple, cored
1/2 cup fresh or frozen pineapple
squeeze half a lemon
1 1/2 to 2 cups liquid like water, coconut water, or unsweetened almond milk
optional add-ins: almond butter, hemp seeds, protein powder (plain or vanilla), flax seeds
Using a high-powered blender, blend to perfection! This smoothie is great for reducing inflammation and making you feel virtuous.
Jennifer is the Nutrition Coach at Crossfit Burke. Schedule your complimentary consult with her today to find out how nutrition coaching can help you reach your goals!