We like to think that just because we have "Meatless Mondays," our family is eating as healthy as they can be, but the guidelines set by health experts are pretty strict. For example, did you realize the USDA recommends that half your plate should be made up of fruit and vegetables at every meal? That means that you should be eating 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day.
Unless you're already a vegetarian, you're probably not even close to those guidelines. They can seem impossible to reach, unless you're only eating salad all day.
But the truth is it's easier than you think to sneak some healthy greens or tasty fruit into every meal. Follow these 7 tips and in no time you'll be snacking on vegetables without even realizing it.
1. Double and swap
The recipes you're cooking already use fruit or vegetables, and even if they don't there's always a place to add them. Any time you're cooking, remember the "double and swap" rule. Whenever you can, double the amount of fruit or vegetables in a recipe to guarantee you get lots of them. Then, swap little seasonings and garnishes (brown sugar, salt, chocolate) with fruit or veggies instead.
2. Always serve a salad with dinner
Next time you're at the grocery store, buy a few bags of pre-mixed salad. Start serving it with every home-cooked dinner. This way, you naturally control the size of your portions while adding some extra greens to your diet. How simple was that!
3. Pre-plan healthy snacks
You're already snacking between meals anyway (we all are, let's be honest) so use that as a chance to eat a serving of something healthy. Cut up lots of fruit, or carrots and celery, and leave it ready to go in a Ziploc bag. When hunger strikes, indulge in something tasty, but healthy.
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4. Enjoy sneaky, healthy desserts
If you like to bake, there are lots of recipes that use zucchini to add a healthy twist to your favorite snacks. Sure, it's not the best way to get a serving of vegetables, but it's very easy, and still healthier than a regular cookie or muffin. If you want something simpler, you can't go wrong with a nice bowl of mixed fruit. Top it with a spoon of Cool Whip if your children are fussy eaters, but most of them will enjoy a sweet mix of pineapple, watermelon and kiwi.
5. Wake up to a smoothie
Smoothies with fruit and veggies are a great way to add healthy food to your daily routine, because they can be as fun as you choose. While serious health nuts will make do with spinach and skim milk, you can cut loose and mix in treats like peanut butter or chocolate chips if you need to add some flavor.
6. Cook up some soup
Soup is such an easy family dinner, and it's also a great way to clean out your fridge. Mix any vegetables from your fridge into the broth, and try adding brown rice or beans if you want something thicker.
7. Remind yourself to eat them
If you're like me, you'll buy fruit and veggies but then forget to actually eat them! If you leave a fruit bowl on the counter you'll be much more likely to actually use up your fruit. Also, try leaving a post-it note on your crisper drawer so you remember to use the veggies inside.
Share this list if you like any of these tips!