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13 ways to add fruits and vegetables to your diet
- Know your needs. For the mythical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, the latest guidelines recommend a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables a day. More is better.
- Set a goal. If fruits and vegetables are minor items in your menu, start by eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day. When you’re used to that, add another and keep going.
- Be sneaky. Adding finely grated carrots or zucchini to pasta sauce, meat loaf, chili, or a stew is one way to get an extra serving of vegetables.
- Try something new. It’s easy to get tired of apples, bananas, and grapes. Try a kiwi, mango, fresh pineapple, or another of the more exotic choices available at your grocery store.
- Blend in. A fruit smoothie is a delicious way to start the day or tide you over until dinner.
- Be a big dipper. If the natural flavor of carrots, celery, broccoli, or other veggies isn’t enough, try dipping them into hummus or another bean spread, some spiced yogurt, or even a bit of ranch dressing. Or slather peanut butter on a banana or slices of apple.
- Spread it on. Try mashed avocado as a dip with diced tomatoes and onions, or as a sandwich spread, topped with spinach leaves, tomatoes, and a slice of cheese.
- Start off right. Ditch your morning donut for an omelet with onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Or boost your morning cereal or oatmeal with a handful of strawberries, blueberries, or dried fruit.
- Drink up. Having a 6-ounce glass of low-sodium vegetable juice instead of a soda gives you a full serving of vegetables and spares you 10 teaspoons or more of sugar.
- Give them the heat treatment. Roasting vegetables is easy and brings out new flavors. Cut up onions, carrots, zucchini, asparagus, turnips and coat with olive oil, add a dash of balsamic vinegar, and roast at 350° until done. Use roasted or grilled veggies as a side dish, put them on sandwiches, or add them to salads.
- Let someone else do the work. If peeling, cutting, and chopping aren’t your thing, food companies and grocers offer an ever-expanding selection of prepared produce.
- Improve on nature. Don’t hesitate to jazz up vegetables with spices, chopped nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or a specialty oil like walnut or sesame oil.
- Get help from Willy Wonka. Try dipping your fruit in dark chocolate. In addition to a delectable dessert, you get plenty of heart-healthy antioxidants, some fiber, and a host of vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients.