This is a sponsored post from BlogHer and Tropicana.
It’s funny, if you look at the USDA food pyramid… if you tried to eat as many servings of everything they want you to, it would be really really hard. (Well, at least the pyramid I grew up with. Not sure about the “my pyramid” or whatever the new one is.) NO ONE struggles to eat more bread, pasta, or rice though. And you know I don’t eat that stuff at all when I can help it. For me, Meats/eggs and veggies are at the top of the priority list, and fruit comes next. It’s natural for me now, but a lot of times people ask me how they can squeeze more produce into their diet, especially when they didn’t grow up eating much fresh stuff.
So here are some ideas.
Start with Breakfast.
I’m not a huge breakfast person, just because I’m not usually hungry when I wake up, but when I do eat breakfast, I make it count. I try to eat a really protein-rich breakfast, whether it’s bacon and eggs, or breakfast sausage and (high protein) grain-free waffles. But it’s really easy to add vegetables by making an omelet or frittata. Just add onions, peppers, mushrooms, or whatever else you like! And waffles or pancakes are great with some fruit on top. Just heat berries with a little vanilla extract and a touch of honey for a great topping that’s healthier than syrup.
- When I was a kid, I remember bringing lots of raw veggies in my lunch box, as opposed to a sandwich. I would have celery filled with cheese or peanut butter, carrots with a dip, raw green beans, broccoli, or whatever else caught my eye in the produce section of the grocery store. No one said lunch has to be a sandwich, wrap, or bowl of soup! But if you like your sandwiches or wraps, add flavor and nutrition by piling on baby spinach, tomato slices, roasted red peppers, olives, or anything else that sounds good. It’s also easy to veg-up soups. Another produce-rich lunch option is OF COURSE the “big-ass salad” (coined by Mark Sisson). Fill a bowl with dark greens and top with anything! Strawberries and bacon, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, olives and pepperoncinis, snow peas and water chestnuts, and don’t forget to add chicken, fish, ham, eggs, or another protein.
Vegetables and fruits make fantastic snacks. Recently, I’ve been snacking on carrot sticks with hummus (yeah, I’ve gotten lax on the no-legumes thing). Another of my (weird) favorites is just a big bowl of beets. Either cold, or hot with butter and salt. I also like to blanch fresh green beans, snow peas, or sugar snap peas, and eat them with homemade ranch dip (sour cream with seasonings). Apples are great with a yogurt-almond-butter dip. All of these real food choices are better than those “100 calorie packs” and other convenience snacks that are available.
Dish up Dinner.
Stop kidding yourself. Roasted potatoes are awesome, but they’re not packing much of a nutritional punch. And macaroni and cheese might be called a vegetable in southern diners, but, well… can you show me the plant it grows on? Make an effort to serve salad with your dinners, and to include one actual vegetable in your meal. Try something you’ve never had before. Or try an old favorite a different way. Pick up something you don’t recognize from the farmer’s market.
Drinks and Desserts.
Smoothies (and even “Green smoothies” with spinach or kale), juice (veggies and fruit – I know people with juicers that basically throw the whole produce section in there), and healthy desserts. These are all a good way to get in some extra minerals and vitamins from produce!
Do keep in mind that without dietary fat, the minerals and vitamins in fruits and veggies remain “locked away” and are inaccessible to your body. So be sure to cook your omelet in bacon grease, add butter to your veggie soups, douse your salads with olive oil, eat your berries with cream, and roast your broccoli in coconut oil. Fat isn’t fattening. And you need it.
You could win a $100 Visa gift card! Tell me how YOU make sure to eat enough vegetables and fruit. Do you plan ahead, or just wing it?
I wrote this post while participating in the Tropicana Pure Premium/BlogHer program on behalf of Tropicana Pure Premium. I received product information to facilitate my post and monetary compensation for the time to write my post.