Most underestimate the power fruits and vegetables have on our bodies. We all know we should get more of these, but yet we do not. It is recommended that we get 5-9 servings a day by the Center for Science and Public Interest. The American Institute for Cancer Research is so convinced of the cancer-fighting abilities of fruits and vegetables that they’ve been recommending 9-11 servings each day. If every American ate at least 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of veggies a day, as a nation, we would be exponentially healthier. Researchers traditionally have attributed the health-promoting affects of plant foods to their comprehensive array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. More recently, however, research studies are uncovering a new story. Plant foods contain thousands of other compounds in addition to the macronutrients (complex carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fiber), and the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). These many other compounds are collectively known as phytonutrients (phyto=plant). Simply put, phytonutrients are active compounds in plants that have been shown to provide benefit to humans when consumed. Particularly in the area of cancer prevention, phytonutrients show special promise for lowering the risk of health problems. Cultures whose diet primarily features plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes have been found to have increased longevity and reduced rates of the many cancers and chronic diseases so common in populations consuming the standard American diet.
Here are 3 easy ways to get in more fruits and veggies. It would be most beneficial to do all three in one day!
1) Drink a fruit and veggie based smoothie in the morning: Drinking veggies and fruit is much easier than sitting down and chewing them.
It is also much faster to drink it in the morning when we are feeling rushed to get out the door. Be sure to add greens like, Kale, Bok Choy, Spinach or Chard to your smoothies. Then add a little bit of fruit like berries to mask the flavor of the greens. Then add your choice of non-dairy milk. You will not even be able to taste the greens!
Bok Coy Smoothie: Blend all ingredients in a blender or Vitamix until smooth!
- 1/2 cup Plain Almond Milk
- 1/4 cup Chopped Mango
- 1/4 cup Chopped Oranges
- 1/2 Banana
- 1/2 cup Mixed Frozen Berries
- 1 cup Chopped Boy Choy
- 2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds
2) Eat a Large Salad for Lunch: For lunch try eating a large salad everyday. When I say large I mean LARGE! Try adding new ingredients to your salads to make them interesting. Try adding lentils or beans instead of meat on top of salads for a healthy protein punch. Every week buy a bunch of lettuce and other ingredients for the salad. Wash it and prep it, then store in a large container in your refrigerator. When making your lunch for the next day you will already have the salad ready, and all you will have to do is transfer your portion to your lunch container! If you get bored with the salad, add the salad ingredients to a whole wheat wrap.
Lentil Leaf Salad: Mix all ingredients together for 1 serving
- 1 cup Washed/Chopped Dinosaur Kale
- 1 cup Wash/Chopped Red Leaf Lettuce
- 1 cup Washed/Chopped Romaine Lettuce
- 1 cup Washed/Chopped Boston Lettuce
- 1/4 cup Canned Organic Corn (Rinsed)
- 1/4 cup Chopped Organic Tomatoes
- 1/4 cup Chopped Organic Carrots
- 1/4-1/2 cup Cooked Green Lentils
- 1/4 Avocado
Sweet and Tangy Peanut Dressing: Mix with a fork and pour over salad
- 2 Tablespoons Natural Peanut Butter
- 1 Tablespoon Agave Syrup
- 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3) Blended Soup for Dinner: Blended soups are a great addition to your dinner, and they are an easy way to get in more veggies. Similar to the smoothie, it is easier to eat a soup than to sit down and eat a bunch of veggies! You can have a hot soup on a cold day, and a cold soup, like a gazpacho on a hot day!
Blended Black Bean, Butternut Squash and Chard Soup: Heat 2 tablespoons of water in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. Add squash; stir 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in chard; simmer until chard is tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes longer. Ladle into a Food Processor or Vitamix and blend until smooth. Serve warm. Serves 4.
- 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 1/2 cups 1/2-inch pieces peeled butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 3 15-ounce cans organic black beans, rinsed, drained
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped Swiss chard leaves (from 1 small bunch)
Other easy ways to get in more fruits and veggies:
- Eat a fruit or veggies with every snack, instead of chips, cookies or other packaged food.
- Keep fruit visible in the house in a large bowl on the counter
- Chop up sweet potatoes into french fry shapes, place on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 min at 400 degrees F. Sweet potato fries are always a hit!
- Add fruit as a replacer for oil in recipes such as pumpkin puree, bananas and applesauce
- Try a veggies stir fry once a week
- Make a veggie platter for snacking
- Try to stay away from fruit juices. There is a lot of sugar and no fiber in juice. Choose a smoothie instead!
- Add berries to your oatmeal in the morning to sweeten it up.
- When making dinner, steam broccoli, and make extra to put into your lunch for tomorrow.
- Larabars are great snacks. They are made from fruit and nuts.
- Keep dried fruit (no sugar added) in your purse or car for a quick snack when feeling hungry.