Tips To Easily Add More Fruits and Veggies to Your Meals

By Julie Sews - 9:19:00 AM

Pesto on sandwiches and pasta is a great way to add veggies!
After learning about how many chronic diseases are linked to our lack of nutrition in our diets, I have come to the conclusion that fruits and veggies need to be the star of every meal if we truly want to have an ideal diet and ideal nutrition.  That doesn't mean you have to go vegan or give up carbs completely (although you should only eat unrefined carbs and as little sugar as possible).  Just don't make either the star.  For example if you were having pasta I would have a small portion of pasta, use marinara sauce or pesto with extra veggies in it like fresh basil or spinach, garlic, onions, sun dried tomatoes and then I would have a side of vegetables like broccoli.  Or if you were having steak, maybe you have a 4 oz portion instead of an 8 oz portion and maybe have a small sweet potato (less carbs than a potato), and a large portion of vegetables.

Extra bonus of eating vegetables most nutritionist say it's OK to eat unlimited amount of veggies.   That's right you can eat as much as you want if it's veggies.  As Oprah once said you don't get fat eating veggies..... So maybe instead of counting calories you should just count servings of veggies.

This has led me to challenge the way I think about preparing meals.  It's almost like a contest for me know, how many vegetables and fruit can I fit into this meal...?  I have found it's surprisingly easy when you have the right pantry and freezer foods on hand and are just conscious of it.  What you don't want to do is to buy a huge amount of fresh fruit and veggies and expect to use it all only to have most of it go bad and unused.  This can really add up after awhile!  So my first thought was to identify fruits and veggies that keep well and are easy to add into a wide variety of dishes and cook fast.  I believe 70% of the work in cooking is planning.  The easiest way to come up with a quick healthy meal is to have a well stocked fridge, freezer, and pantry with healthy versatile ingredients. 

What Fruits and Veggies do I Usually Always Have Stocked?
  1. Sun dried tomatoes.  These are my hands down favorite!!!  You can have them in your pantry whenever you need it, they make everything taste amazing, and work in almost every meal.  If you buy them at the store please look at the bulk aisle, it is so much cheaper!  Luckily we have a ton of tomatoes lately so I've been dehydrating mine own.
  2.  Frozen Organic Spinach.  Here's an easy way to eat your greens without knowing it and not having to go to the store often for fresh spinach.  Buy organic spinach frozen.  It takes only a few minutes to go from frozen to cooked.  I love adding it to pizza, pasta, eggs, etc.  It can be surprisingly hidden into a wide variety of meals.  Bonus is when it's frozen it shrinks so your having way more greens than you realize.
  3. Garlic Puree of course it's best to press garlic fresh with a garlic press, but if you have it in a jar ready to go your more likely to add it to more meals.  Garlic is so easy to add to every meal you can think of.  
  4. Onions: I  roughly chop a whole onion and place into a canning wide mouth half pint jar in the fridge so I have it ready to go whenever I want. Onions like garlic work with most entries.  
  5. frozen veggies that cook quickly Some good choices are green beans, organic corn (so it's not GMO), asparagus, and peas.  If you have it always on hand and it cooks quickly your more likely to add veggies to your meals.
  6.  frozen and dehydrated fruit  
    1. we freeze and dehydrate strawberries.  We use frozen strawberries for smoothies and toppings on desserts or ice cream, and dehydrated strawberries with oatmeal. 
    2. We buy cheaper baking bananas at our local store and dehydrate them for oatmeal and dipping in chocolate for snacks. You can also add bananas to batter based cooking like pancakes, quick bread, cakes
    3. we freeze the raspberries from our bush that are left over.  
    4. we buy blueberries when they are cheap in the summer and dehydrate them for baking and to add to oatmeal.  
    5. You can find frozen pineapple chunks at your grocery store in the frozen aisle. They are great to add on a skillet when your cooking.  It cooks fast from frozen and makes a great side dish or adds great flavor to a stir fry, especially if it's with a sweet or spicy sauce.  You can also add them to smoothies or salsa. 
    6. Beans are so good for you but they take forever to cook and if you use canned beans they have BPA in it and lots of sodium.  So I cook beans and then freeze them in freezable canning jars and put them in the fridge to defrost the night before you plan to use them.  
My Top 5 Favorite Tricks to Eat More Veggies and Fruit:
  1. Use pesto on sandwiches instead of sauce
  2. Use pesto or marinara instead of cream based sauces for pasta
  3. Add bruschetta to bread instead of eating plain or butter
  4. Add fruit syrup to pancakes, ice cream, and desserts Here's my raspberry syrup recipe.
  5. Make Hummus or bean dip and serve with baby carrots  (it's a great to get beans and not even realize it)

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I am not a doctor. I have ZERO medical training and NO formal nutritional training.  The information provided on this site, such as text, graphics, images, is for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as medical care or medical advice and is not a replacement for medical care given by physicians or trained medical personnel.  Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider(s) when experiencing symptoms or health problems, or before starting any new treatment.
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