How to Get More Fruits and Vegetables Into Your Diet
You don’t have to be a qualified nutritionist to know that eating more fruits and vegetables is a good thing. Nor is it necessary to cut animal products out of your diet completely, in order to make a positive lifestyle change.
Research suggests that more adults across the UK than ever before are making a conscious decision to reduce their consumption of animal products. Some for health reasons, others to do their bit for the environment - or perhaps a combination of the two. For most, what begins as a challenge quickly becomes second nature.
But there will always be those who despite knowing they should be eating more fruits and vegetables find it difficult to do so. No shortage of good intentions, but perhaps a lack of inspiration and innovation as to how to make it work.
The Easy Way to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Before getting started, there’s one golden rule of immense importance to be mindful of at all times:
If you see eating more fruits and vegetables as a punishment, an inconvenience or something you don’t really want to do, it isn’t going to happen.
To make positive lifestyle changes like these, you need to have a good reason in mind for doing so and believe in it. In which case, any initial challenges associated with making the transition are a small price to pay for the outcome.
When looking to eat more fruits and vegetables with any motivation in mind, the challenge of the whole thing should be embraced and enjoyed. As for the practical tips and pointers that can help steer things in the right direction, the following are guaranteed to help:
1. Stop Cooking Vegetables the Same Boring Way
First up, vegetables can be as boring or inspiring as you allow them to be. Nevertheless, the vast majority of people adopt one way of cooking specific vegetables and stick with it habitually. A recipe for uninspiring meals and tedium, which can be quickly countered by experimenting with new cooking methods.
Take the same vegetable and try steaming it, stir frying it, roasting it, grilling it, barbecuing it, blending it - maybe even spiralizing it and using it as a pasta substitute. It’s incredible how different cooking methods can completely transform the fragrance, flavour and texture of what on the surface appears to be a pretty uninspiring veggie.
2. Make Your Own Smoothies
By far, the quickest and easiest way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet is to start making your own smoothies. Some say it’s difficult to get the recommended five (or even seven) portions of fresh fruit and vegetables in their diets each day. They’re wrong, as a single super-sexy smoothy whipped up in less than a minute could help you fulfil half of this required amount.
It’s worth remembering that once you’ve added some protein powder, banana or mango to the mix, you won’t be able to taste the spinach, kale and other health goodies in there. Don’t shy away from smoothy recipes that sound pretty weird on the surface - you’d be surprised how it all comes together to create something quite palatable!
3. Make Your Own Healthy Dressings
Plain salad can be quite boring…there, we said it. By contrast, salads (and raw veggies) in general drenched with shameless quantities of sinfully decadent dressings are another matter entirely. All well and good, but the latter could see you consuming more fat and calories (literally) than a double cheeseburger and fries.
The solution is therefore simple - why not master the art of making your own healthy dressings? This is something that can pave the way for so much more than making salads less boring. Pasta salads, homemade coleslaws - low-fat, low-calorie DIY dressings packed with flavour can be used to make almost anything more interesting. More often than not, substituting mayo and/or cream in a recipe for fat-free yogurt is all it takes.
4. Shop Seasonally
For most people, the biggest benefit of shopping seasonally is the ability to make huge savings on whatever’s in season at the time. Definitely a bonus, but seasonal shopping also means gaining access to the freshest and tastiest fruits and veggies on sale. It also means buying fruits and veggies that haven’t travelled half the world to get to your local store, and (in some instances) haven’t been doused with the dangerous pesticides still used overseas.
Focusing your shopping habits on seasonal produce will naturally steer you in the direction of more plant-based eating habits. This is particularly true if you get to know what’s in season and when, so you can plan your shopping and meal preparation in advance.
5. Blend Veggies into Sauces
It works for kids and it also works for grownups! Seriously though, getting into the swing of making your own cooking sauces can make it so much easier to increase your intake of healthy veggies. When making your next batch of spaghetti sauce, pop a bunch of carrots, parsnips, celery and so on in the pan with the usual tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs. When it’s ready to go, blend the whole thing to a silky smooth sauce and you’ll barely be able to pick out its amped-up vegetable content.
This strategy can be used when making just about anything you plan on passing through a blender, including soups and smoothies.
6. Make a Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Weird and wonderful in equal measures, yet surprisingly effective and simple to pull off. Making a cauliflower pizza crust is as easy as combining finely chopped (or grated) cauliflower with some regular flower (or gluten-free substitute), eggs (or plant-based substitute) and the seasoning of your choice. After which, the resulting combination can be pressed together and rolled into a makeshift pizza base, which you can then pile with your favourite toppings…mostly veggies, of course!
Admittedly, there are loads of recipes for cauliflower pizza base online and they don’t all work as well. Trial and error holds the key to getting it right in your own kitchen, but it’s well worth giving it a go.
7. Make Cauliflower Rice
Even easier still, cauliflower rice is absolutely packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium, making it a great alternative to conventional rice. It really couldn’t be simpler to make, as all you need to do is grate raw cauliflower into small pieces, pop it in a suitable bowl with a little water, cover it with clingfilm and microwave it for a few minutes.
The resulting rice substitute (somehow) tastes nothing like rice, yet has a similar consistency. Just like regular rice, it takes on the flavour of whatever you serve it with and is the epitome of versatility. Taking things one step further, you can use the same method with things like sweet potatoes, courgettes, carrots and broccoli. Better yet, why not mix a few together for even more nutritional benefit?
8. Eat Fruits and Vegetables for Breakfast
If you’re finding it a challenge to eat vast quantities of fruits and vegetables each day, why not get as much of it as possible out of the way in the morning? Breakfast is the ideal meal for packing a good two or three portions of your daily fruits and veggies into one welcome wakeup. Wraps, burritos, omelettes, toasts, sandwiches, breakfast bowls - all served with a glass of tomato juice (or a smoothy) to kick things up a notch.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it the healthiest meal of the day while you’re at it?
9. Serve a Side Salad with Every Meal
Irrespective of what makes it onto your plate, you can always up your veggie intake by throwing together a quick side salad. A bunch of leafy greens with a few slices of tomato and a sprinkling of seeds isn’t going to work wonders for your appetite, but is nonetheless the kind of nutrient-bomb you need to keep your body doing its thing.
And assuming you’ve already whipped up a selection of DIY dressings you’re absolutely in love with, eating a side salad with every meal should become an absolute pleasure.
10. Carry Fruit (or Fruit Mousse Pouches)
Last up, a piece of fruit or one of those super-convenient fruit mousse pouches is ideal for getting to grips with hunger pangs, before they get a grip on you. You’re far more likely to succumb to temptation where junk food is concerned if you’ve got something to snack on within easy reach. It sounds obvious (and it is), but it works - easy access to fruits and veggies holds the key to eating more of them.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself the odd indulgence from time to time. Quite the contrary, as the more effort you make to bring more fruits and vegetables into your diet, the better it feels to reward yourself for a job well done!