3 Ways to More Fruits & Veggies
My daughter’s away at college for her second year. She’s grown and gone, but I’m still her mom. And I care about her.
Because I know she’s putting all her time into studying, socializing and working, I ask, How are you eating? Are you sleeping?
And she thinks I’m not supposed to worry when she tells me their sink is so full of dirty dishes she can’t even get a glass of water.
Then she sneezes or coughs or yawns and I starting handing out Dr. Mom advice. Are you getting enough fruits and vegetables? Do you know where you can get a flu shot? Can you drop some activities?
Well, I can barely do those things myself, and I’m not a full-time college student, part-time library reference assistant, or young and single.
So, I told her I’d write down some easy ideas for getting more nutrition–namely fruits and vegetables–into her diet, so she has the energy to keep it all going.
This isn’t a foodie’s list or a fad one, but it’s 3 Ways to Get 3 A Day!
1. Eat it raw.
Go to the store once a week and buy seven apples – your favorite variety. Eat one a day. Repeat. In January switch to oranges.
That’s by far the easiest way to your first serving of your three servings a day. (I know, I know, five would be better, but let’s start with three. Right now I’d be happy if you could at least get that).
If you want to sub a 1/2 cup of grapes or some kind of berry, that will be a serving, too.
Now about those veggies, a 1/2 cup of raw vegetables equals one serving. Or one cup of leafy greens if you make a salad.
So what should you eat? An easy one you already know is baby carrots, but if you can make the time to buy bagged salad mix — the darker the better with spinach or kale–and add some chopped tomato, cucumber or pepper and eat this for lunch or with dinner every other day, you’ll get a good variety of nutrients.
2. Drink it up.
Now I am not a spokesperson for V-8, nor have they given me any product or money to say this, but V-8 juice is my drink of choice for getting two servings of vegetables. Just like that.
If you like it, drink it up.
I love it. But I vividly remember when I was a student and I leaned in close to say hello to a boy after sipping a glass of this power-packed vegetable juice cocktail, and the grimace on his face may mean that it won’t necessarily be at the top of the list with college kids.
But now there is V-8 fusion, so no excuses. You’ll get a serving of fruit and a serving of vegetables in 8 ounces.
Smoothies are a good way to drink it up, too. Just be careful, they aren’t as easy as they sound; you’re going to have the shopping for frozen fruit, the blending and the clean-up.
But if you prefer the smoothie option, which many people do, you can add two servings of fruit or vegetables to some liquid and some ice. Blend and you’re on your way. Try one banana, 1/2 cup of frozen fruit or frozen kale or spinach and a liquid of your juice.
3. Make it the meal.
You probably don’t have a lot of time to assemble salads like this Cilantro Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad, but did you can easily add a serving of vegetables to what you’re already eating–quesadilla with peppers, frozen broccoli flowerets with ramen, sautéed carrots or zucchini next to a chicken breast.
If you like tomatoes, here’s a half-dozen things you can add a chopped or sliced tomato or two to: mac-n-cheese or pasta of any kind, any type of canned or homemade soup, a grilled cheese sandwich, tacos, black beans and rice, a baked potato.
And speaking of baked potatoes, you can make a better-for-you baked sweet potato in the microwave by pricking it with a fork and cooking for 8-10 minutes.
That doesn’t even include options for stir-fry, wraps, or main dish salads.
I know the last thing you want to do is to think about fruits and vegetables. So don’t think, just make your grocery list, add a column for produce, put down the basics—apples, bananas, cucumbers, bagged salad, carrots, tomatoes—and start counting them up.