Author: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics staff registered dietitian nutritionists
Building a healthy plate is easy when you make half your plate fruits and vegetables. It’s also a great way to add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber. All this is packed in fruits and vegetables that are low in calories and fat. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal.
Try the following tips to enjoy more fruits and vegetables every day:
- Variety abounds when using vegetables as pizza topping. Try broccoli, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini.
- Mix up a breakfast smoothie made with low-fat milk, frozen strawberries and a banana.
- Make a veggie wrap with roasted vegetables and low-fat cheese rolled in a whole-wheat tortilla.
- Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips with your favorite low-fat salad dressing for dipping.
- Grill colorful vegetable kabobs packed with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms and onions.
- Add color to salads with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, spinach leaves or mandarin oranges.*
- Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
- Place colorful fruit where everyone can easily grab something for a snack-on-the- run. Keep a bowl of fresh, just ripe whole fruit in the center of your kitchen or dining table.
- Get saucy with fruit. Puree apples, berries, peaches or pears in a blender for a thick, sweet sauce on grilled or broiled seafood or poultry, or on pancakes, French toast or waffles.
- Stuff an omelet with vegetables. Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions with low-fat sharp cheddar cheese.
- “Sandwich” in fruits and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches with sliced pineapple, apple, peppers, cucumber and tomato as fillings.
- Wake up to fruit. Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
- Top a baked potato with beans and salsa or broccoli and with low-fat cheese.
- Microwave a cup of vegetable soup as a snack or with a sandwich for lunch.
- Add grated, shredded or chopped vegetables such as zucchini, spinach and carrots to lasagna, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, pasta sauce and rice dishes.
- Make fruit your dessert: Slice a banana lengthwise and top with a scoop of low-fat frozen yogurt. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.
- Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish.
- Make your main dish a salad of dark, leafy greens and other colorful vegetables. Add chickpeas or edamame (fresh soybeans). Top with low-fat dressing.*
- Fruit on the grill: Make kabobs with pineapple, peaches and banana. Grill on low heat until fruit is hot and slightly golden.
- Dip: Whole wheat pita wedges in hummus, baked tortilla chips in salsa, strawberries or apple slices in low-fat yogurt, or graham crackers in applesauce.
*See “Color Your Plate with Salad” at www.eatright.org/nutritiontipsheets for more tips on creating healthy salads