9 ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet

Sunrise Senior Living  |  September 26, 2016
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Adding a variety of produce to your meals can be simple, fun and delicious.

Did you know that September is Fruits & Veggies – More Matter Month? It's an initiative by Produce for Better Health Foundation that strives to help more people include a variety fruits and vegetables in their everyday diet.

According to PBH, more than 90 percent of both adults and children aren't eating the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But consuming a variety of produce can be simple, fun and delicious!

Here are nine ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet:

1. Make smoothies for breakfast
A simple smoothie made of fresh or frozen berries, low-fat milk or yogurt and a handful of spinach makes a great breakfast option.

2. Divide your plate
Make it a point to use half of your plate for either fruits or vegetables at every meal. Fill the rest of your plate with protein and whole grains.

3. Always add more
If you're in a rush and opt for a frozen meal, you may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals. By adding additional fresh vegetables or a side of fruit, you can make a quick meal a little more healthy.

4. Make substitutions
Pick one day of the week to substitute your meat for vegetables. Try this Black Bean Burger recipe by Food Network – it tastes great, and you'll barely notice the difference.

5. Keep your fruit and veggie pile stocked up
Stock your freezer with fruits and vegetables, and keep the cupboards loaded with the canned variety. These options can come in handy when you're in a pinch.

6. Eat fruits and veggies for snacks
Eating a snack in the afternoon doesn't have to be unhealthy. Stick to grab-and-go fruits like apples, pears and bananas. As for vegetables, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggested green or yellow peppers, celery sticks and snap peas

7. Make meals colorful
When you aim to make your meals more colorful, you'll start consuming more fruits and vegetables. For a snack that creates the colors of the rainbow on your plate, mix produce like red, orange and yellow peppers, cucumbers, blueberries, raspberries and grapes.

8. Get creative
Have you ever considered substituting pasta for zucchini noodles, or pizza dough for cauliflower crust? There are so many ways to get creative with your vegetables. Besides, it'll make enjoying these usual carb-loaded options guilt-free!

9. Choose fruit for dessert
Dinner simply isn't complete without dessert. But that doesn't mean you have to load up on the sugary sweets to feed your craving. Cooking Light magazine said a fruit-concentrated dessert offers a light, refreshing and satisfying meal without feeling bad about it. Consider dipping your favorite fruits in melted 70-percent dark chocolate, or freezing 100-percent fruit juice to create healthy homemade popsicles.