Getting More Fruits & Veggies in the Diet

Eating BroccoliWe all know that eating our fruits and veggies is not only important, it’s critical for living a healthy life, feeling good, and looking good. Real food truly is the best medicine and each fruit and vegetable provides the body with certain nutrients, enzymes, and properties that literally build life. They heal our bodies, fuel our systems, and energize our cells to carry out the functions they were designed for. Consuming fruits and veggies helps us think more clearly, perform to a higher standard, and just plain feel good. As if that isn’t enough, fruits and veggies not only reverse disease processes going on in the body, but they also help your body heal from existing disease and damage.  The food you eat will literally do one of two things:

1. Give life to your body and create health, vibrancy, and a feeling and look of well-being.

2. Steal life, health, and vibrancy from your body with a slow, but certain ‘poisoning’—taking the life from your years and likely years from your life.

We know this to be true, and yet the American diet is largely full of pseudo-foods that fall under the second category, things like:  fast foods, Ramen Noodles (and other quick noodle foods), instant oatmeal, white bread (and even most ‘wheat’ breads), pop tarts, boxed cereals, candies, sodas, pastas, and the list could go on for pages. These foods literally damage the cells of the body and interfere with the body’s systems every time they are consumed.  And they make up the bulk of the American diet.

As a result of this American diet and our proclivity to avoid fresh fruits & veggies, there have sprung up all sorts of health gimmicks telling you that you don’t need your veggies, so I do want to take a second to get clear about something. Eating fruits and vegetables is NOT replaceable by anything else. Recently I saw an advertisement for a product that said, “Don’t get your 7-10 servings of veggies every day? Then take this supplement.”

Taking a supplement does NOT replace fruits and veggies in your diet.  Now, don’t hear me wrong on this. Taking a high quality nutritional supplement is absolutely critical for optimal health in the world today, but it’s a supplement’s job to fill the gap between what we get from a highly abused food supply and the increased amount of nutrients we need to combat the effects of today’s modern lifestyle on the body. A supplement cannot replace certain enzymes and things that can come only from eating fresh, organic fruits and veggies. A supplement is designed to work hand-in-hand with a healthy diet, not replace it.

But never fear! There are some easy ways you can tip the health scales back in your favor by getting more fruits and veggies into your diet—and yes, they taste great. We’ll break it down for you by meal, but really you can mix these around any way you’d like to.

Breakfast:  Smoothies are one of the easiest, tastiest ways to get your servings of fruits & veggies to start the day.

Appleberry Smoothie

I love this smoothie because it tastes great and gives me 5 servings of fruits and veggies to start my day. I always keep frozen fresh spinach on hand for smoothies. The easiest way to do this is buy a bag of organic fresh spinach, open it, squeeze the air out, reseal it and place it in the fridge. For the berries, always buy organic—they really absorb the pesticides they are exposed to. I buy lots of organic berries in the summer time when they’re cheapest and freeze them for use year round.

IngredientsAppleberry smoothie

2 Cups Frozen Spinach
½-1 Cup Frozen BlueBerries
1 Granny Smith apple, cored
3 Scoops of Vanilla or Strawberry Nutrimeal
1 Cup of liquid (filtered water, unsweetened coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk, goat milk or low fat dairy milk)

.5 – 1 scoop Fibergy
1 cup of ice

Place the spinach and liquid into your blender and blend until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Pour into your favorite (large) cup and enjoy!

Lunch: Whether eating at home or on the go, getting veggies at lunch time is pretty easy. One of my favorite ways to make this simple and portable is to have fixings for salads put together ahead of time. That way, if I’m eating at home, I can sit and enjoy, but if I’m on the run, it’s quick and easy to take with me.

At the beginning of the week, grill or bake some chicken breasts, slice them up, and put them into serving size baggies in the fridge or freezer so you can grab them and go. Also, it’s easy to find organic greens ready to go for salads. Keep some on hand at all times. Here is one of my favorite salads that will give you a very balanced, yummy meal—and 3-4 servings of fruits & veggies.

Strawberry Almond Salad

2 Cups mixed baby greens
1 Tbsp slivered almonds
½ cup sliced strawberries
1 Tbsp goat cheese
1 – 2 Tbsp of chopped red onion
3-4 ounces of cooked chicken breast

Healthy dressing of your choice (I like an oil & balsamic vinegar)

Put the ingredients in a bowl and toss together.

Dinner: Whenever I hear someone say they don’t like the taste of vegetables, (after thinking they’re slightly crazy) I assume they’ve never tried roasted vegetables. There’s something about roasting that brings out beautiful flavor in veggies and makes them oh, so yummy.  Here is one of my favorite roasted veggies recipe. It’s highly versatile, so mix and match, but be sure to enjoy!

Beet Roasted Veggies

4-6 beets, greens removed (If the beets are small, go for around 6, if they’re large then 4 is likely plenty)

1 large Sweet Potatoroasted beets
4 Carrots
¼ – ½ of a red onion
1 dozen button mushrooms
6-8 garlic cloves peeled
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350.  Peel the beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

Chop beats in quarters (I look for beets that are 1-3 inches in diameter because I think they test better if they’re on the smaller side.)

Chop the carrots and sweet potatoes into chunks roughly the same size as the beets.

Chop the onion and bell peppers into 1 inch chunks.

Peel the garlic cloves.

Put all the veggies & garlic into a bowl and pour the Olive Oil over the veggies.  Add a dash of sea salt.  If using dry rosemary, sprinkle about a tablespoon of rosemary over the veggies and toss to coat veggies.  Pour veggies into a 9×13 baking dish and cover with foil.

Bake for 25 minutes and then remove from oven to stir. Increase heat to 400 and replace the veggies in the oven, baking for around 35 minutes more.

Additional info

Feel free to add, substitute or eliminate the veggies in this recipe.  The good news is that there are so many veggies that are delicious when roasted, you can’t go wrong with this simple method for roasting veggies.

I like these as a warm side dish, but I also love to serve leftovers cold, tossed in a salad with fresh grown salad greens.

Dessert:  Fruit is the original dessert, so it is so easy to make healthy desserts and get a serving of fruit at the same time. This is one of my go to desserts when I want something sweet and healthy.

Berry & Yogurt Parfait

This is a very simple dessert that delivers a nice ‘sweet’ punch along with some healthy nutrients, so is a real win-win.

½ Cup of berries of your choice
½ Cup of unsweetened, plain greek or goat yogurt
1 drop of stevia
1/8 tsp of natural vanilla (not imitation—avoid artificial ingredients)

Place the berries in a processor and puree until smooth (Or skip this step if you prefer)

In a bowl, mix the yogurt, stevia, and vanilla flavor
In a small dessert dish, layer the berries & yogurt.
Top with a small amount of healthy granola if you’d like.

Snacks: Snacks are an easy way to get veggies into your day.  This is a yummy simple option that you can fix ahead of time and it’s even easy to pack into lunches.

2 Carrots, peeled and cut into snack sized pieces (avoid baby carrots as most of them are soaked in a chemical concoction to thwart browning prior to being packaged)
2 Celery Stalks cut into snack sized pieces
2 Tbsp of hummus

Dip carrots & celery in hummus and enjoy

Give your body and health a boost by finding ways to sneak more veggies into your diet. Give it a try for a month and just see how you feel. Your body will be thanking you. Trust me.

Have questions or comments about today’s post?  Or—Have any yummy fruit & veggie recipes you’d like share?  Let us know in the comments below.

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