Last month, the goal was to Go for Fruit by adding more fruit to your eating plan. The obvious follow-up this month is to add a vegetable!

When discussing healthy eating, fruits and vegetables are usually talked about together. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, regularly eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables supports both short-term needs (such as immune function and adequate nutrition) as well as long-term goals like reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

It is recommended that Americans eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables per day. Overall 9 out of 10 adults do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Do you really eat as many as you think you do? Take some time to look at your consumption.

Breaking out the vegetable category, the average consumption is 1.6 cups of vegetables every day. It’s interesting to note that, even with all the emphasis on the need for vegetables, this level of intake hasn’t changed in the past 15 years. In fact, there has been a decline in vegetable consumption by older adults.

So, how can you add a veggie? Here are some tips! And perhaps you have some ideas your own that you’ve been wanting to try… this is the month to do it!

Have you heard or read about MyPlate? One goal of MyPlate is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. There is now a MyPlate App that you can put on your phone to help you track and learn how you are really doing.

Veggies for breakfast. It’s usually easier to have vegetables at dinner, but think about adding them to breakfast. Start small, maybe one or two mornings a week. How about vegetables in an omelet or add leftover roasted veggies to your scrambled eggs?

Bag it. Add a vegetable to your lunch bag. Traditional vegetable sticks may get eaten if hummus or a yogurt dip is added to the lunch sack. Consider adding a dark green leafy lettuce to sandwiches.

Eat Dessert: Look for recipes that include vegetables in a dessert. Here is an idea:

Creamy Pumpkin Pudding

Be sneaky. Add extra vegetables to foods that are already favorites. An extra can of diced tomatoes or two cans of mushrooms added to spaghetti sauce can really make a difference. Or put pumpkin in your chili. Perhaps even chop an extra stalk of celery when making chicken or whole grain salads.

Make it a contest. Have family members keep a food journal for the week. Whoever eats the most vegetables, wins. Prizes can be monetary or chore-oriented (idea: whoever wins doesn’t have to do dishes for a whole week!)

Visit a farm stand or farmer’s market. Encourage each family member to pick a favorite or new vegetable. Have everyone help prepare their vegetable during the week.

Plant a vegetable garden. If you can’t have a garden in the ground, try a small pot of herbs, tomatoes, or lettuce on the deck or patio.

Let someone else do the work. Explore the fresh-cut vegetable section of your grocery store. Many items that take more time to prepare (such as winter squash or spiralized zucchini) are there and ready to go. While it does cost more, choosing prepared produce may make it easier to add a veggie.

Change a habit. Instead of buying the same frozen vegetables, look for something different.

New recipes. Seek out a new way to prepare a vegetable (or two or three).

Set a goal for yourself, but be realistic with that goal. If you’re not already a vegetable eater, work on adding just two to three more a week. If you’re committed, work on one more each day. This is the month to Add a Veggie!

DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.

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