Fruits and vegetables are so fantastic. I’m not just saying that because I’m a dietitian and I want you to eat more fruits and vegetables. I truly think they are amazing food stuffs. Not only are they tasty, but they are packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that are incredibly beneficial for health and well-being. All this, and they have the added benefit of being low in calories.
Even with my love of fruits and vegetables, it can be difficult at times to think of creative ways of incorporating them into a healthy meal plan. The American Dietetic Association (www.eatright.org) gives some great tips for ways of fitting in fruits and vegetables. Here are some of my favorites:
- Get saucy with fruit – puree berries, apples, peaches or pears for a thick sweet sauce on grilled fish or poultry, or on pancakes, waffles or French toast
- Heat left-over whole grain rice with chopped apple, nuts and cinnamon
- Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole wheat tortilla
- Top oatmeal with dried cranberries and walnuts
- Stuff an omelette with different vegetables like broccoli, squash, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and onions
- Wake up to fruit – make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or toast
- Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and low-fat cheese
- Add grated or shredded vegetables like zucchini, squash, carrots and spinach to lasagna, meat loaf, pasta sauce and rice dishes
- Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions
- Stuff a whole grain pitta with low-fat ricotta cheese and sliced apples–add a dash of cinnamon
The American Dietetic Association also gives this recipe, which I really like. It’s a healthy and fun popcorn snack that incorporates dried fruit. The whole recipe has 230 calories.
- 3 cups popped fat-free or plain unsalted popcorn
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons raisins or other dried fruit like cranberries, apricots or dates
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients and toss well.
The more we can incorporate fruits and vegetables into fun recipes, the more likely we will be to enjoy them and actually eat them. So try some of these ideas and see what you think!
Rachel Cope MPH, RC, CD