You may have heard that you should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day — which works out to a total of about 2½ cups. But experts actually recommend getting even more than that amount.
There are no limits on the quantities of tasty fruits and veggies you can enjoy — unless, of course, you load 'em up with butter or dressing, or deep-fry them! But many of us still find it hard to fit fruit and veggies into our meals.
Here are some ideas to help you get into the 5-a-day (or more!) habit:
Start with the first meal of the day. Plan to eat a serving or two of fruit with breakfast every day. Mix it up so you don't get bored. Half a grapefruit, an apple, or a handful of berries on your cereal are all good choices. Orange juice counts too — but only if you drink 100% juice. (Limit juice to 1 or 2 servings a day). Continue this pattern by eating vegetables at lunch and at dinner.
Get extra energy from fruit or vegetable snacks. The carbohydrates in fruit and vegetables are great sources of energy. Combine them with a serving of protein — such as a piece of cheese, a cup of yogurt, or a tablespoon of peanut butter, and you get staying power too. Ants on a log, anyone?
Double up on fruit and veggie servings. Recommended servings of fruit and veggies can be small. Unlike other foods, it's OK to double the serving size of fruit or vegetables. Serve yourself a 1-cup portion of broccoli or tomatoes instead of the standard serving of ½ cup.
Use fruit and vegetables as ingredients. Enjoy bread? Bake up a batch of zucchini bread and get your veggies along with your grains! Use applesauce instead of oil in your baked goods. Chop up veggies (peppers, carrots, celery) and toss them into your favorite chili recipe. If you don't like vegetables much, sneak them into foods you do enjoy (like grating carrots into tomato sauce or, again, zucchini into bread). It's a great way to get your veggies without having to taste them!
Try a new fruit, vegetable, or recipe each week. Our bodies like variety. So set a goal to try something different each week. You may find a new favorite. One good way to get variety is to eat the fruit and veggies that are in season in your area. They usually taste better than the bland fruit salad or shriveled apples you're used to seeing in the cafeteria!