It’s good to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet for a variety of health benefits, including to lose weight. Whether you cook at home or eat out, try these easy ways to sneak more colorful, nutritious and delicious vegetables and fruits into your snacks and meals (even breakfast).
- Which fruits and vegetables are best?
- Take the Next Step
- 10 Tips: Add More Vegetables to Your Day
- 10 Tips: Add More Vegetables to Your Day
- 1. Discover fast ways to cook
- 2. Be ahead of the game
- 3. Choose vegetables rich in color
- 4. Check the freezer aisle
- 5. Stock up on veggies
- 6. Make your garden salad glow with color
- 7. Sip on some vegetable soup
- 8. While you’re out
- 9. Savor the flavor of seasonal vegetables
- 10. Vary your veggies
- 7 Ways to Eat More Vegetables
- 40 Ways to Sneak Veggies Into Any Meal Without Sacrificing Flavor
- 1. Frittata it.
- 2. Add minced broccoli to scrambled eggs.
- 3. Mix cauliflower into scrambled eggs.
- 4. Bake with ’em.
- 5. Veg out on savory oatmeal.
- 6. Make pudding a healthy breakfast.
- 7. Try pumpkin or butternut squash pancakes or waffles.
- 8. Add greens to breakfast smoothies.
- 9. Grab an avocado smoothie.
- 10. Slurp a carrot smoothie.
- 11. Make pasta dishes go green.
- 12. Experiment with veggie noodles.
- 13. Remember herbs are leafy greens too!
- 14. Get fancy with mac and cheese.
- 15. Mix the potatoes.
- 16. Sneak them in casseroles.
- 17. Sub greens for wraps.
- 18. Add veggies to grilled cheese.
- 19. Make vegetarian quesadillas.
- 20. Bulk up burgers.
- 21. Try pumpkin marinara sauce.
- 22. Be saucy.
- 23. Health up the hollandaise.
- 24. Purée away.
- 25. Spice up salad dressing.
- 26. Bake an egg in an avocado.
- 27. Turn them into a fries.
- 28. Cook up kale chips.
- Soups and Stews
- Jenny Broomfield 27, from Oxfordshire – ‘Cook from scratch. If you do that it will allow you to pack vegetables in’
- Adam Marks, 37, from Bristol – ‘Invest in a smoothie maker’
- Rakin Choudhury, 23, from Hull – ‘I would say prepare your meals in advance as much as you can’
- Cathy, 60 from Thames Ditton – ‘My advice is don’t buy processed foods’
- Tamraparni Dasu, 55, from New Jersey, US – ‘The food I grew up with was centred around vegetables’
- Anonymous, from north Wales – ‘I add vegetables to add flavour but also to add bulk and nutrients cheaply’
- 95 Ways to Eat More Veggies
- 1. Expose Yourself to More Veggies
- 2. Make Veggies Easy and Available
- 3. Drink Your Veggies
- 4. Put Veggies Into Your Favorite Foods
- 5. Use Veggies in Every Dish You Make
- 6. Start Your Day With Veggies
- 7. Seasoning, Dip and Sauces
- 8. Party Food
- 9. Challenge Yourself
- 10. Don’t Make a Big Deal about It
- Top tips to help you eat more fruits and vegetables
Which fruits and vegetables are best?
That’s easy: They’re all good! If you eat many different types of fruits and veggies, you’re sure to get all the different types of nutrients you need. The American Heart Association recommends filling at least half your plate with fruits and veggies in order to make it to the recommended 4 ½ cups of each per day. The good news is that all produce counts, which means canned, fresh and frozen varieties can help you reach your goal.
When buying canned, dried or frozen vegetables and fruit, be sure to compare food labels and choose the products with the lowest amount of sodium and added sugars.
- Eat melon, grapefruit or other fruit.
- Add bananas, raisins or berries to your cereal.
- Drink a small (6-ounce) glass of juice. Be sure it’s 100% fruit or vegetable juice without excess sodium or sugar – not “fruit drink,” “cocktail” or “punch.”
- Add chopped up vegetables to your eggs or potatoes. Try onions, celery, green or red bell peppers, or spinach.
- Have a fruit or vegetable salad with lunch.
- Put vegetables on your sandwich, such as cucumber, sprouts, tomato, lettuce or avocado.
- Eat a bowl of vegetable soup. (Compare food labels and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium you can find in your store, or make soup from scratch.)
- Have a piece of fruit or raw veggie sticks instead of chips.
- Keep raw veggie sticks handy, such as green or red bell peppers, green beans, celery or carrots.
- Carry dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or dried apricots, in your purse or pocket.
- Have any type of fresh fruit: grapes, apple, banana, orange, kiwi, etc.
- On hot days, munch on a bowl of frozen fruits or vegetables, such as grapes, peas or bananas.
- Have a fruit or vegetable salad with dinner.
- Add a side of steamed or microwaved vegetables – frozen veggies are fine!
- When you use the oven to cook your meal, put in a whole potato, sweet potato or yam at the same time.
- Add chopped vegetables like onions, garlic and celery when cooking soup, stew, beans, rice, spaghetti sauce and other sauces.
- When making rice, add some frozen peas for the last three minutes of cooking.
Take the Next Step
If you’re already eating plenty of fruits and veggies every day, you may be ready for the next step: include more color. All fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that may help prevent heart disease, cancer and other illnesses. Some of these nutrients are fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin A and C. The best way to get all the various nutrients is to eat fruits and vegetables of many different colors. The five main color groups and examples in each group are listed on the Eat More Color infographic. Eat from as many color groups as you can each day.
10 Tips: Add More Vegetables to Your Day
10 Tips: Add More Vegetables to Your Day
It’s easy to eat more vegetables! Eating vegetables is important because they provide vitamins and minerals and most are low in calories. To fit more vegetables in your day, try them as snacks and add them to your meals.
1. Discover fast ways to cook
Cook fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave for a quick-and-easy dish to add to any meal. Steam green beans, carrots, or bok choy in a bowl with a small amount of water in the microwave for a quick side dish.
2. Be ahead of the game
Cut up a batch of bell peppers, cauliflower, or broccoli. Pre-package them to use when time is limited. Enjoy them in a casserole, stir-fry, or as a snack with hummus.
3. Choose vegetables rich in color
Brighten your plate with vegetables that are red, orange, or dark green. They are full of vitamins and minerals. Try acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, sweet potatoes, or collard greens. They not only taste great but are good for you, too.
4. Check the freezer aisle
Frozen vegetables are quick and easy to use and are just as nutritious as fresh veggies. Try adding frozen vegetables, such as corn, peas, edamame, or spinach, to your favorite dish. Look for frozen vegetables without added sauces, gravies, butter, or cream.
5. Stock up on veggies
Canned vegetables are a great addition to any meal, so keep on hand canned tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, and beets. Select those labeled as “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”
6. Make your garden salad glow with color
Brighten your salad by using colorful vegetables such as black beans or avocados, sliced red bell peppers or onions, shredded radishes or carrots, and chopped red cabbage or watercress. Your salad will not only look good but taste good, too.
7. Sip on some vegetable soup
Heat it and eat it. Try tomato, butternut squash, or garden vegetable soup. Look for reduced- or low-sodium soups. Make your own soups with a low-sodium broth and your favorite vegetables.
8. While you’re out
If dinner is away from home, no need to worry. When ordering, ask for an extra side of vegetables or a side salad instead of the typical fried side dish. Ask for toppings and dressings on the side.
9. Savor the flavor of seasonal vegetables
Buy vegetables that are in season for maximum flavor at a lower cost. Check your local supermarket specials for the best in-season buys. Or visit your local farmers market.
10. Vary your veggies
Choose a new vegetable that you’ve never tried before.
Based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Revised October 2016.
Want to eat healthier without cutting out your favorite foods? Here’s my best tip — eat more vegetables! They’re loaded with water, fiber and nutrients that will nourish your body and make you feel amazing!
I started my health journey in college and the one constant that always helps me feel my best is incorporating a lot of veggies into my day-to-day diet. If you would have asked me 10+ years ago if I thought vegetables were exciting foods it would be a resounding NO, but today they are truly my favorite foods! There are so many fun ways to eat more vegetables so I wanted to dedicate an entire post to sharing them with you. Some of these ideas might be old news, but hopefully you’ll pick up a few creative ways to add vegetables to your diet and some new recipes to try!
1. Have veggies chopped and ready to eat, front and center in your fridge. It’s amazing how quickly (and eagerly!) you’ll reach for veggies when they’re ready to go. Put them in a little baggie for easy snacking. Pro tip: buy or make hummus, guacamole and your favorite dressings for dipping. Veggies are exponentially more delicious with a good dip. 😉 I’m personally on a jicama kick right now. Chop up your favorite veggie and snack away!
2. Spiralized veggies! I have the Inspiralizer and it’s seriously the best for making vegetable noodles! You can spiralize so many veggies – I usually reach for zucchini, sweet potato, and bell peppers. Think of any veggie . . . and there’s a high chance you can spiralize it. I love to swap out traditional noodles for veggie “noodles” but you can also get super creative with them like I did in these sweet potato and parsnip spiralized latkes or this spiralized carrot and cucumber kale salad.
3. Salads. You knew this was coming didn’t you? Yup… I love my salads, even for breakfast. Salad doesn’t have to be boring and bland! Lucky for you, I’ve got countless salad recipes on my site to keep you inspired day after day. I’ve been hooked on this superfood salmon salad lately.
4. Riced veggies. Similar to spiralized veggies, you can “rice” a ton of vegetables. I’ve started to find rice veggies at more and more grocery stores in the refrigerated or frozen vegetable section, but you can also easily make your own in the food processor (affiliate link). Chop cauliflower, broccoli or sweet potato into tiny pieces and swap in for rice in practically any recipe. I find myself making cauliflower fried rice often!
5. Graters aren’t just for cheese anymore! Get out your grater and grate up some veggies! Grate broccoli stems for broccoli slaw, grate carrots for a delicious carrot slaw or salad topping – almost any cruciferous veggie will work! This apple cider vinegar coleslaw is a great place to start (and perfect to take to a cookout!).
6. Soups. Come fall and winter, I’m a total soup gal. I love how easy it is to pack a ton of vegetables into a soup and I love making a family-sized soup so I can have easy meals for the whole week (or stick leftovers in the freezer for another day when I have less time to cook!). Try my instant pot butternut squash chili, this slow cooker sausage kale soup or my vegan curried sweet potato soup!
7. Smoothies. Does anyone else’s love of smoothies come and go in phases? I feel like I make them every day for a month straight and then don’t crave one for months! I probably don’t have to tell you that smoothies are a great way to pack a ton of nutrients and vegetables into a meal or a snack. Feel free to keep it as simple or get as creative as you want! You can make green smoothies with your favorite leafy greens, smoothies with sweet potatoes or cauliflower rice, zucchini smoothies… so many options. Check out my smoothie recipes to get inspired.
8. Frozen vegetables in steamer bags. I love keeping them on hand for when I’m in a pinch. Pro tip: you don’t have to microwave them – just pop them out of the bag and steam them right on the stovetop!
9. Frozen veggies. There’s no shame in frozen vegetables! I love keeping them on hand for when I run out of fresh veggies or am in a pinch for time. Pro tip: you can roast frozen veggies in the oven!
10. Kale chips. Even if you’re a kale hater, try kale chips. There are so many ways to season kale chips, I’m willing to bet you can find a recipe that you like! I’m obsessed with these spicy and cheesy kale chips!
11. Collard wraps and lettuce wraps. Instead of tortillas, try using collard greens or lettuce as a wrap! Need recipe ideas? Try these hummus collard wraps or these almond butter chicken salad lettuce wraps.
12. Baked veggie fries. Yup, fries count as part of your vegetable intake. Best news ever, huh? My favorites = sweet potato fries, butternut squash fries and jicama fries. I usually just roast them in the oven, but lately I’ve been thinking about buying an air fryer so I can get them really crispy. Do you have one? Tell me all about it in the comments.
13. Chips. Gosh, I am a chip lover. Lucky for me, I can enjoy as many chips as I want when I make them out of veggies! Similar to fries, you can make a ton of different veggies into chips, just slice thinly and dehydrate or roast in your oven! I love using regular potatoes or sweet potatoes to make veggie chips. The perfect snack!
14. I saved the best for last in my opinion: veggies in desserts. You heard that right: vegetables can add an amazing consistency and flavor to many desserts! I have several options on my blog, like these sweet potato brownie bites, zucchini bread, avocado ice cream, avocado truffles and carrot cake, but also have avocado brownies on my list of things to try. Mmm!
Are you feeling inspired? What are you going to do this week to incorporate more veggies into your day-to-day diet?!
7 Ways to Eat More Vegetables
Most of us don’t get enough vegetables. In fact, 90% of Americans don’t get the recommended 2-3 servings a day. (For most vegetables, 1 cup is a serving. For raw, leafy vegetables like salad greens it’s 2 cups). Vegetables are a great source of healthy nutrients like fiber, potassium, folate, and vitamin A.
They also play a big role in helping people lose or maintain weight. Vegetables are rich in fiber, which helps fill you up. Plus, when you’re eating more low-calorie vegetables, there’s less space for eating less higher-calorie less-healthful foods.
You may think you don’t like vegetables, but maybe you just haven’t tried the right preparation. Broccoli may taste boring steamed, but roasted and topped with parmesan cheese (like in this Balsamic & Parmesan Broccoli), and it takes on a sweet and nutty flavor.
Looking for more inspiration? Take our Eat More Vegetables Challenge.
Here are seven easy (and delicious ways) to eat more vegetables.
1. Add vegetables (and fruits) to breakfast.
The nutrients you get are a plus for your health, but eating produce in the morning can also help you maintain a healthy weight. A recent Cornell University study looked at the habits of people with normal BMIs-just naturally, without trying-and found that 96 percent ate breakfast, versus skipping it or merely sipping coffee. The most common items on their A.M. menu? You guessed it: fruits and veggies. So whip up a chock-full-of-veggies omelet or smoothie bowl bursting with fruit.
Try it: 7-Day Veggie-Packed Breakfast Meal Plan
2. Eat more veggie soup.
Research has shown that when people eat soup they tend to eat fewer calories. Soup is also a great way to eat more vegetables because you can add a lot of produce to your soup pot. Make one of these chock-full-of-vegetables soups to help you get your fill this week.
3. Snack on vegetables.
And we don’t mean potato chips and French fries. Your snacks should help you fill up in between meals so you don’t feel starving at dinner. They also can help you fill your vegetable quota. Try carrots or cucumbers dipped in hummus, celery with peanut butter or a small cup of vegetable soup.
Read more: 10 Best Snacks for Weight Loss
4. Turn vegetables into noodles.
Flip pasta night on its head and make noodles out of vegetables. Use sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini, turnips or beets to replace pasta and you’ll be getting loads of nutrients for not a lot of calories. Make Shrimp Scampoi Zoodles, Sweet Potato Carbornara for dinner tonight or try our other vegetable noodle recipes. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a vegetable peeler to create long “noodles” with your vegetables. See our picks for the best spiralizers here.
5. Make wraps with lettuce.
Cut down on calories and carbs by using with lettuce to make a wrap. Butter lettuce leaves, cabbage leaves, lacinato kale and swiss chard all make good stand-ins. It’s a fun spin on lunch or dinner and an easy way to add more vegetables to your day. Wrap up your favorite sandwich fillings or get inspired by our healthy lettuce wrap recipes.
6. Use spaghetti squash for lasagna.
Think outside the box of traditional lasagna and instead of noodles use spaghetti squash. You get a satisfying portion of lasagna and a full serving of vegetables in this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini recipe.
Get more veggie-packed inspiration with our Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Recipes.
7. Turn your vegetables into chips.
Make eating vegetables fun and whip up homemade chips with beets, sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts or kale. Baking thin slices or leaves with a little salt gives you a crunchy snack or side. Even kids and picky eaters can’t resist vegetables when they’re served like chips!
- Get More Vegetable Inspiration:
- Genius Cauliflower Recipes That Cut Carbs
- Healthy Vegetable RecipesVeggie-Packed Vegan Meals
40 Ways to Sneak Veggies Into Any Meal Without Sacrificing Flavor
Even for those who like eating veggies, it can be a challenge to eat the recommended servings each day. And when a craving for creamy mac and cheese calls, it’s tough to ignore a grumbling tummy and cheese cravings and opt for a bowl full of veggies instead. We’re here to tell you it’s easy to have the best of both worlds! Here are our 40 favorite (sneaky) ways to fit veggies into any meal:
1. Frittata it.
We love starting the weekend with an egg-heavy brunch. Mix eggs with veggies for a healthy and hearty breakfast. Bonus points for making enough to munch on all week!
2. Add minced broccoli to scrambled eggs.
This veggie addition doesn’t change the texture of eggs and fits in an entire serving of veggies (at least).
3. Mix cauliflower into scrambled eggs.
Steam and purée or finely grate cauliflower to mix with scrambled eggs. Try it with chicken or tuna salad for a full entrée.
4. Bake with ’em.
Breakfast sweets can be packed with veggies too. Try making some travel-friendly bran muffins packed with zucchini and carrots in addition to the classic raisins, walnuts, and cinnamon.
5. Veg out on savory oatmeal.
Classic oatmeal might be topped with brown sugar and fruit, but oats can be savory too! Cook plain oats with water and add your choice of steamed or sautéed veggies. Top with an egg for extra protein and season with salt, pepper, or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
6. Make pudding a healthy breakfast.
If it’s avocado-based, that is.
7. Try pumpkin or butternut squash pancakes or waffles.
When the skillet is heating next weekend, throw some pumpkin or squash purée into pancake or waffle mix to fit in an extra serving of veggies (and get a fun orange tinge, too).
8. Add greens to breakfast smoothies.
A handful of spinach or kale blends well with any fruit smoothie. Try the classic Green Monster by blending 1 cup milk (we love almond milk!), 1 frozen banana, 2 handfuls spinach, and 1 tablespoon almond butter.
9. Grab an avocado smoothie.
Like the green smoothie, this avocado-based treat is perfect for breakfast or a nutritious snack. Packed with healthy fats, vitamin E, and vitamin B6, avocados are one superfood we love to liquefy.
10. Slurp a carrot smoothie.
Carrot juice is pretty easy to find, but without a juicer at home, it’s tough to make. Luckily, grated carrots are easy-peasy to fit into any fruit smoothie. Bonus: Because we’re using all parts of the veggie, none of the fiber is lost from the juicing process.
11. Make pasta dishes go green.
When spaghetti and meatballs is on the menu, add a load of extra veggies (like spinach and mushrooms) to the dish instead of opting for a boring ’ol side salad.
12. Experiment with veggie noodles.
Use a spiralizer or julienne tool to create zucchini, squash, asparagus, or cucumber noodle and skip the pasta altogether. (Or roast spaghetti squash!) Add extra veggies to the sauce for an extra dose of nutrients.
13. Remember herbs are leafy greens too!
Add fresh herbs to any rice, pasta, or grain dish. Or whip up a quick homemade herb pesto to add to scrambled eggs or use as a sandwich spread.
14. Get fancy with mac and cheese.
It’s a childhood favorite, but grown ups crave it too—don’t lie! When the desire to demolish the whole box sets in, add a load of fresh veggies for a dose of extra nutrients. Spinach, tomatoes, peas, and broccoli make awesome additions. Tip: Making it from scratch not only tastes better, but it makes it healthier too.
15. Mix the potatoes.
Sweet and regular mashed potatoes are perennial favorites. To add some extra nutritional value, mix the two types 1-to-1 in a mash.
16. Sneak them in casseroles.
Anytime that casserole dish comes out of the cupboard, get the grater out too. Finely shredded zucchini or summer squash can be added to virtually any casserole without changing taste or texture!
17. Sub greens for wraps.
Lettuce makes a surprisingly awesome stand-in for bread and tortilla wraps. For tougher greens like collards, kale, or chard, blanch the greens and pat dry before wrapping.
18. Add veggies to grilled cheese.
Melted cheese between two slices of bread doesn’t have much green value. Every time the cheesy craving strikes, throw in a few layers of veggies. Spinach or arugula, tomato, and avocado make awesome additions.
19. Make vegetarian quesadillas.
Instead of opting for the classic chicken-and-cheese, throw in a variety of veggies and cut the cheese by half. Some favorite fillings are corn, peppers, onions, and greens.
20. Bulk up burgers.
Try adding carrot purée or chopped mushrooms to ground beef recipes. From hamburgers to meatloaf, a few steamed and puréed veggies (or a mix of carrot and sweet potato) go a long way.
21. Try pumpkin marinara sauce.
Tomato sauce is a great vehicle for any extra puréed veggies. The easiest addition (and our personal favorite)? Throwing in a can of pumpkin purée!
22. Be saucy.
Basic tomato sauce is great—definitely counts as one veggie! But the more veggies added, the better. Try adding puréed carrots or winter squash, peppers, onions, or greens.
23. Health up the hollandaise.
Few things are better than a Sunday-morning plate of eggs Benedict, but classic hollandaise sauce can be less than healthy. Try this avocado hollandaise to fit in some extra green.
24. Purée away.
Mix butternut squash purée and grated cheese to create a tasty spread for grilled cheese, quesadillas, or pizzas.
25. Spice up salad dressing.
Say bye-bye to classic oil and vinegar and hello to veggie-based dressings. Some ideas include butternut squash, tomato, beet, or zucchini.
26. Bake an egg in an avocado.
It’s the perfect healthy vehicle for some serious protein!
27. Turn them into a fries.
Slice zucchini, avocado, carrot, or green beans, lightly bread, and bake until crispy.
28. Cook up kale chips.
Lightly coated in oil and sprinkled with salt, crispy kale chips are a great (and much healthier) stand-in for potato chips.
29. Serve a colorful pie.
Yes, a cheesy pizza pie is hard to pass up. But pizzas are a great vehicle for a big pile of veggies. Practically anything works, from greens and tomato to roasted squash or root vegetables.
30. Prepare a pizza salad.
If pizza is for dinner, throw a salad on top for a fun meal to eat, and an easy two-in-one dinner. A favorite? Arugula salad with tomatoes and Parmesan on top of a mixed veggie pizza.
31. Splurge on spinach.
Tomato sauce is a great way to get a serving of veggies. Even better? Spread a layer of spinach purée on the pizza dough before spreading the sauce for another dose of veg (and extra greens).
Soups and Stews
32. Add veggie purée to chicken soup.
Making classic chicken soup? Add a can of puréed tomatoes, squash, or potato. It will make for a thicker soup and also sneak in some extra veggies.
33. Spice up chili.
Add carrot, sweet potato, or butternut squash purée to any chili or stew recipe.
34. Bake veggies into bread.
Another veggie-packed delight, zucchini bread can be a great way to get in a serving of veggies while fulfilling that sweet tooth.
35. Disguise greens in chocolate!
These spinach brownies use puréed spinach leaves in the mixture to add an extra dose of greens to the dessert course too! (Bonus: they’re vegan.)
36. Choose chocolate cake with carrot and squash.
A chocolate cake base is perfect to disguise the veggies packed in the batter. Make avocado frosting for even more veggie bonus points!
37. Pair chocolate and beets.
The cocoa covers the earthy flavor well and the sweetness of the beets pair nicely with the sugary cake.
38. Stick to the sweet stuff.
Let’s just admit it: Chocolate is basically the best way to hide veggies in pretty much anything. Case in point: sweet potato brownies.
Add carrot or sweet potato purée to chocolate chip cookies for a treat that’s just as tasty, but has hidden health benefits too.
40. Add avocados to pudding.
Yes, we can even sneak extra nutrients into chocolate pudding. Plus, avocados’ silky texture gives this pudding another benefit.
Forget five a day, now it’s all about getting 10 portions of fruit and vegetables into your diet. That is according to scientists who say doing this could prevent up to 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide.
But how do you make sure you get your 10 a day (about 800g of fruit and veg)? We asked those of you who already consume this amount. Here is a selection of responses.
Jenny Broomfield 27, from Oxfordshire – ‘Cook from scratch. If you do that it will allow you to pack vegetables in’
It’s not a big deal at all. I started eating more greens after joining Weight Watchers. On this diet you are allowed to eat as much fruit and vegetables as you like, it’s not included in your daily points you have to eat within. That encouraged me to pack everything full of vegetables. I had 10 or more portions (if not more) a day. Now I no longer follow that plan to the letter but I have developed good eating habits that stayed with me. I have lost over four-and-a-half stone.
I buy a lot of vegetables and put them into what I eat. I don’t even think about it any more. For example, on Saturday night I had a pasta bake with four peppers, massive courgettes, mushrooms and onions and not much pasta. That was low calorie and five portions of vegetables all in one meal.
I do still eat meat but have smaller portions of it now. I snack on fruit as well, so I eat cherry tomatoes, satsumas, pineapples, that sort of thing. My advice is to cook from scratch. If you do that it will allow you to pack vegetables into every meal. Meals such as lasagnes, shepherd’s pie, curries – even pizzas – can be loaded up with delicious veg. It’s worth it because as well as the added vitamins the likelihood is you will be consuming fewer calories. Also vegetables are so much cheaper, which is incentive enough.
Adam Marks, 37, from Bristol – ‘Invest in a smoothie maker’
I’m vegetarian, but this doesn’t mean I only eat vegetables. Most of my diet is protein-heavy stuff like Quorn, tofu and other soya products. So getting vegetables into every meal can be a struggle. But having said that, I’ve recently discovered an easy way to do it: homemade smoothies. I usually have one for my lunch using a 600ml bottle. It might not sound like much but it’s surprisingly filling. Plus, it’s an easy way to get at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. If I’m still hungry in the afternoon, I have a handful of nuts or seeds. The rest of my intake comes from other meals. I usually have an apple with my breakfast toast, and a good-sized amount of leafy greens or broccoli with dinner.
People forget that a “portion” of fruit and veg is not a huge amount. For example, 80g of banana is a pretty small banana. The same amount of blueberries is a little handful. You don’t have to hide the rest of your food. And best of all, it’s cheap.
I adopt this way of eating for health reasons mainly, and also for weight control. Eating a good amount of vegetables with a meal means you need less fatty or carbohydrate-rich foods on the same plate to feel full. My favourite smoothie includes bananas, blueberries, fresh baby spinach, cucumber, strawberries and raspberries. I mix it up with some skimmed milk. I judge the size of each portion by eye, having weighed them roughly the first time I made it.
It’s best to introduce vegetables gradually. Try substituting them into recipes instead of things like potatoes. You’ll feel just as full, but it’ll be way healthier. At some point it will become second nature. Oh and buy a smoothie maker.
Rakin Choudhury, 23, from Hull – ‘I would say prepare your meals in advance as much as you can’
I am dedicated with fitness and try to prepare meals in advance, so I incorporate a lot of vegetables. I would count fruit as dessert. I started eating more healthily a couple of years ago when I left a long-term relationship. I was unhappy with my weight so I decided to change my diet and gym routine. It took a while to get the balance right as it can be expensive. It’s much cheaper if you get frozen fruit and vegetables. It’s routine now, I don’t think about it. When my office has McDonald’s Fridays I have a sandwich or porridge. It’s normal to me now.
Rakin Choudhury prepares all his food for the week on Sunday. Photograph: Rakin Choudhury
To try to get more vegetables and fruit in your diet I would say prepare your meals in advance if you can. That’s what I do. I prepare all my food for the week on Sunday. Also if you are having pasta, have a salad with it. Or eat an apple with breakfast. It’s as simple as that. Another way to get enough good stuff in is by making smoothies. Ten portions a day sounds daunting but it’s not. I feel great for it.
Cathy, 60 from Thames Ditton – ‘My advice is don’t buy processed foods’
I have always eaten a lot of fruit and vegetables. In an average day I have a banana and blueberries in my porridge, an apple or pear and nuts as a snack. Then lunch is a salad of mixed coloured lettuce, cherry tomatoes etc and either chicken breast or salmon. I will snack on an apple afterwards. Late afternoon I have some nuts and dried fruits (cranberries or maybe some strawberries in season). Then for dinner I eat meat and broccoli and carrots, or kale and carrots, followed by melon and orange cut up as a fruit salad. I make that about 10 portions.
Fruit and nuts are a popular snack. Photograph: Alamy
My weakness is cake and chocolate so my diet is liberally sprinkled with these plus spoonfuls of peanut butter and honey.
I don’t believe in measuring. Fruit tends to come in convenient meal-size portions ready-made (a pear, apple, banana etc). With vegetables I just fill my plate up, it’s not rocket science.
If I have a bad day eating with loads of bread, cakes and sweets I feel horrible mentally and physically. I still do it though sometimes.
Fruit and veg are cheap so I don’t know why people don’t buy more. I’m driven by my determination to stay active and healthy well into old age. My advice is don’t buy processed foods.
Tamraparni Dasu, 55, from New Jersey, US – ‘The food I grew up with was centred around vegetables’
My mother was a terrific cook, and coming from the Andhra region of India, we ate three- to four-course meals, each with a different type of vegetable dish. Every celebration included multiple courses. When I got married, I was introduced to a whole new cuisine, also vegetarian, from Palghat . And when none of the restaurants could match the quality of my mother and mother-in-law’s cooking, I was forced to strike out on my own and start experimenting with recipes.
Breakfast for me is usually chapati or toast with a leftover veggie dish, like curried cauliflower. I snack on almonds and fruit. I go a bit fruit crazy, sometimes eating an entire bunch of grapes. Lunch is usually a big bowl of fruit and vegetables in a salad and then dinner will be chapati or rice and maybe eggplant or another vegetable dish.
I feel healthy and energetic, and attribute my good skin and hair to eating lots of fruit and vegetables. My advice is always cook at home, buy fresh produce every week (daily is hard for most of us working shifts). We cook together as a family and friends and it makes it more fun. There are lots of resources for vegetarian cooking, which have exploded in the last decade. Variety is important so improvise from as many cuisines as possible (Italian, Chinese, Mexican, all south Asian and east Asian). Improvise and it is OK to fail, scrape off the burnt broccoli and move on.
Anonymous, from north Wales – ‘I add vegetables to add flavour but also to add bulk and nutrients cheaply’
I get 10 portions a day. I have to work to a tight budget but also cooking is something I enjoy and take pride in. I cook our evening meals myself and while I enjoy trying out recipes I mostly cook standard stuff, such as spaghetti bolognese or stews. I add a variety of vegetables to every meal both to add flavour but also to add bulk and nutrients cheaply.
My spaghetti bolognese recipe, for instance, includes chopped onion, garlic, a red pepper and a tin of tomatoes. Also maybe a stick of celery, carrot or a handful of mushrooms chopped and sweated with the onion to start with. I do the same sort of thing with my stews and curries. I add in a bit of whatever vegetable I have to hand. I use my slow cooker a lot and that means the vegetable cooks down nicely to become part of a delicious sauce. A couple of sweet potatoes added to anything like that are delicious.
The key to getting it done is to not see it as a chore or a big thing. Just grab a glass of orange juice with breakfast. Or a cheese or ham salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato and cucumber for lunch. Then snack on a banana. Throw lots of vegetable in your dinner with apple pie to follow. There, you’ve had your 10 portions without even realising.
95 Ways to Eat More Veggies
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1. Let seasonal produce shine. Our Spring Vegetable Grain Bowl, which uses raw shaved veggies as well as English peas, creates a whole-grain meal packed with nutrients.
2. Plant your own vegetable garden. It’s hard to avoid eating healthier when fresh fruits and veggies are growing in your own backyard.
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3. Feature a new vegetable each week. Experiment with new and seasonal vegetables, and invite friends over to try new dishes together.
4. Bag the bread and instead wrap your sandwich inside a leafy green, or try one of these healthy lettuce wrap recipes.
5. Cook more greens. Chef Jenn Louis’ cookbook The Book of Greens boasts an encyclopedic yet engaging collection of recipes for everything from kale and collards to tatsoi and purslane.
RELATED: 10 Frozen Vegetables to Keep on Hand—and Tasty Ways to Use Them
Image zoom Photo: Jennifer Causey
6. Pick your own seasonal produce or visit the farmers’ market for a fun weekend activity to get up close and personal with farmers and their crops.
7. Dine in for date-night dinner. Forget the steak. In our Shiitake and Asparagus Sauté with Poached Eggs recipe, earthy, meaty shiitake mushrooms balance lemony asparagus and a rich, perfectly poached egg for a meal portioned for two.
8. Pack them into pasta sauce. Vegetables like mushrooms, onions, and peas can amp up the flavor and nutrients. Consider starting with our Mostly Veggie Pasta with Sausage recipe. We reverse the typical meat to marinara ratio and use sausage as the flavor agent instead of the base and add in plenty of vegetables.
9. Fish-free sushi isn’t just cheaper to make, it also gives you a chance to really pack in the vegetables. Shiitake mushrooms, avocado, and cucumber are just a few of our favorites.
10. Dress for success by shaking together a few pantry staples to create additive-free, lower-sodium dressings that are perfect for veggie dipping or tossing.
Take advantage of this delicious fruit.
11. Blend them into your favorite smoothie. Check out our Best Green Smoothie Recipes.
12. Add them to eggs. Vegetables make excellent additions to omelets, frittatas, and breakfast sandwiches. Eggs are already a great source of protein, so up the nutrition factor by filling them full of colorful vegetables.
13. Sneak them into your morning muffin. These zucchini muffins make a delicious breakfast on-the-go.
14. Toss them in a stir-fry, like our Szechuan Tofu with Cauliflower for a quick and easy dish for Meatless Monday.
15. Save the stalks. Stalks from broccoli and cauliflower are edible and eye-openingly delicious. Save outer peels for stock, and shave the stems into salads, or sauté, roast, or steam them just as you would the florets.
16. Swap your usual salad, and opt for a vegetable salad. We use a mandoline in our Baby Vegetable Salad to create thin, even slices dressed with olive oil, honey, lemon juice, as well as fresh tarragon and dill.
RELATED: We Tested 7 Different Mandolines—These 3 Are Our Favorites
17. Shred up a slaw. Cabbage is the classic go-to, but other veggies like zucchini or bok choy make wonderful slaw side dishes.
18. Amp up your cheese board with the addition of vegetables. Thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes make for excellent palate cleansers, and any pickled veggies will create a balanced board.
19. Buy a CSA Box. Support your community by purchasing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box filled with seasonal fruits and vegetables from local farmers and usually available for weekly delivery.
20. Stir them into a stew. Our saucy Chicken and Poblano Stew with Polenta is a Mexican twist on Italian comfort food, especially when served over creamy polenta.
Image zoom Photo: Jennifer Causey
21. Get juiced by creating drinkable vegetables. Recover from a late night, or just pump up your morning, with flavorful veggie juices. Juicing is a great way to get a serving—or two—of plant-based nutrients in a single glass.
22. Stuff them into sandwiches. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, vegetables also add nice crunch and flavor to sandwiches.
23. Feature them in spring-inspired cakes. Vegetable cakes, that is. We combine zucchini, and shrimp in our Zucchini and Shrimp Cakes then top them with a Snap Pea Relish.
24. Rethink your steak. Go entirely plant-based at dinnertime by opting for Broccoli Steaks or Cauliflower Steaks.
25. Turn them into chips. Whether you’re thinking zucchini, beet, or sweet potato, our healthy homemade chips help you eat more veggies and save you tons of fat and sodium.
26. Learn how to create beautiful salads that are balanced, colorful, and brilliantly simple.
27. Snack your way through dinner with our favorite new trend. Load up a sheet pan with fresh veggies, fruit, and other goodies to make a DIY dish that the whole family will love.
28. Pickle and preserve them. Turn surplus veggies into a quick pickle to use throughout the week—or a sealed batch to last months.
29. Eat by color. Make the effort to eat a colorful diet, and you’ll eat more fruits and vegetables.
30. Savor them in a meatless main, like our Chickpea Panzanella filled with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, and red onion.
31. Adopt a plant-forward approach to Mexican food with smoky salsa, satisfying veggie tacos, and saucy enchiladas.
32. Bake them into a tart or savory pie. By pairing a load of vegetables with a little meat and sauce, you’ve automatically got a filling and nutritious meal.
33. Snack on them as you cook. Toss potato, carrot, and parsnip peels with a little oil, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400°F for 10 minutes or until browned and crisp. They’re delicious!
34. Stuff them into lean cuts of meat. High-flavor ingredients like fresh baby spinach embellishes our succulent pork loin in an elegant slow cooker main.
35. Use our cookbook, Everyday Vegetarian: A Delicious Guide for Creating More Than 150 Meatless Dishes for new recipe inspiration.
36. Go frozen. It’s always vegetable season in your freezer, and frozen still boasts stellar nutritional value.
37. Pulverize them for a quick dip. Sweet peas offset the kicky heat of wasabi in our Pea and Wasabi Dip—a zippy alternative to hummus.
38. Swap sweet potatoes for wheat-products. Sweet Potato Crust Quiche is a reader favorite, while thinly slicing the tuber and toasting it can also make for a great gluten-free breakfast option.
39. Make stock. Save tough outer peels and snipped parts of turnips, rutabagas, squash, and beans; mushroom stems; bell pepper scraps; and other odds and ends to make vegetable stock.
40. Whip out waffles to keep your daily vegetable-intake going. Sweet potato waffles can be dressed up to be sweet or savory, and you can always add a bit of shredded zucchini to your family’s favorite recipe for a zucchini bread-like twist.
Image zoom Photo: Jennifer Causey
41. Make over your lasagna. Our healthy veggie lasagna will make your taste buds sing.
42. Designate the start of each week as “Meatless Monday,” and eat only plant-based the entire day.
43. Feature them at your next barbeque. That’s right, throw those veggies on the grill. Our grilled fruit and vegetable recipes showcase some of our tastiest combinations.
44. Make greater gravy by adding in vegetables during the cooking process. Mushrooms and spinach will add rich flavor and texture.
45. Use the whole vegetable. Some veggies, like turnips or beets, are often bought for their roots alone. Utilize their tasty tops too and cook up the greens for extra vegetables at your next meal.
46. Take the pie road. By that, we mean, create healthy homemade pizzas supercharged with veggie toppings that fill nutritional goals for the day.
47. Bake them into your favorite dessert—like Mom’s Rhubarb-Apple Crisp.
48. Double the portions. Double the amount of vegetables in a recipe—when you can—to reach your goals faster. Same goes for portioning out raw fruits and vegetables for snacks.
49. Use them to top your favorite breakfast food.
50. Stir into soups. Take advantage of spring produce (or use up what’s leftover) to create vegetable soups that satisfy any time of year.
RELATED: Summertime Gazpacho Recipes
51. Turn them into tasty vessels by stuffing vegetables with foods like quinoa, couscous, falafel, and more.
52. Pack veggies into pesto. The food processor will do all the work for you. Make your favorite pesto recipe and add in a handful of spinach or some cooked mild vegetables (zucchini is great) to bulk up the sauce.
53. Keep them visible. Your mind—as well as your body—is responsible for many of the food choices we make, so put fruit and vegetables where you can see them. Research shows where we store food has much to do with what we consume.
54. Fire up the slow cooker. Use your favorite appliance to help you create hands-free vegetable dishes that are sure to please.
55. Fry vegetables into fritters. Whether you go traditional with something like latkes or get adventurous with our Indian-Spiced Pea Fritters recipe, shredding or mashing veggies can create wonderfully crispy cakes.
56. Buy precut vegetables. Snagging veggies that are ready to eat saves on prep times and give you quick options for lunch or snack.
57. Dunk them in your favorite dip. Instead of reaching for chips, try dipping carrots, broccoli, and bell peppers, into hummus, homemade salad dressing, pesto, or peanut butter.
58. Makeover your mash. Make mashed potatoes healthier and creamier by adding roasted cauliflower.
59. Keep track of what you eat. Writing down everything you consume during the day will help you eat more mindfully.
60. Thicken soups and stews with vegetables. Okra is a natural thickener (gumbo, anyone?), and so are starchy foods like potatoes. If a creamy soup is what you desire, blending up cooked corn or cauliflower will result in rich tasting, but still light, dishes.
Image zoom Photo: Rachel Johnson
61. Swap your spaghetti. Try new noodles by spiralizing veggies into long strands. Twirl up a forkful and you won’t even miss the pasta.
62. Set a goal. As a nation, we know we’re not eating enough fruits and veggies. But how much is enough? See our handy guide to learn how much you should be eating based on your age, gender, and physical activity.
63. Mix up your meatloaf and save over 260 calories per serving. Mushrooms and peas are just two of the secret ingredients for a better, plant-packed dish.
64. Start with an appetizer. Start with vegetable soup or a healthy dip paired with vegetable strips. You’ll get an extra portion in and curb your appetite so you don’t overeat.
65. Create a hash by chopping and tossing together almost any veggie you have on hand. Carrots, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and more have a place in this modern meat-and-potatoes dish.
66. Try them dried. Satisfy your cravings for something crunchy by noshing on vegetable chips or dehydrated vegetables. They’re still nutritious and delicious for snacking.
67. Bag them. Portion out baby carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, cucumber strips, snow peas, bell peppers, and other veggies into individual bags, so they’re easily accessible when hunger strikes.
68. Build a better Bolognese with a veggie-packed recipe. Butternut noodles and mushroom-filled sauce can trick even the most refined palate into thinking they’re indulging.
69. Pile them on a potato. Dress potatoes with grilled vegetables, steamed broccoli, caramelized onions and mushrooms, or whatever flavor combinations you love.
70. Char up some flavor by blistering vegetables. Broiling veggies like green beans or asparagus lead to a wonderful extra flavor, without much extra effort.
71. Rethink your rice. Our cauliflower “rice” delivers a light and fluffy texture that you’ll love. Dish it up as a side, serve it with stir-fry, or mix it with homemade sushi.
72. Flip your burger by cooking up a Mushroom-Beef Burger or, even better, a veggie burger.
73. Gussy them up with a glaze. Amp up cooked vegetables by tossing them in a glaze, like sweet chili sauce or thin BBQ, and cooking for a few minutes to create a deliciously thick coating.
74. Build the best bowls by relying more on vegetables than grains or meat. Create a base of cooked or raw veggies, extra points if they’re spiralized, to bulk things up without adding too many calories.
RELATED: How to Choose the Best Spiralizer for You
75. Change up Taco Tuesday by focusing on veggie-forward toppings and sides. Skip rice and serve Purslane in Green Salsa or Esquites (Corn Salad) on the side, while topping your main dish with Salsa Chipotle.
76. Take your toast to a new level by adding in veggies. While avocado may be your first choice, it’s actually a fruit. Some great vegetable options are sprouts, chopped cherry tomatoes, cooked kale, shaved carrots, and more.
77. Start the day with a salad. While they might seem the opposite of regular morning fare, breakfast salads are full of fresh flavor (and veggies) while still nodding at tradition by keeping ingredients like eggs and bacon.
78. Cook up a jar of savory jam to use all week long. Our favorite ways are to toss it into pasta salads, top pizzas, and slather on sandwiches.
79. Pair with fruit. Get your daily intake of both fruits and veggies by throwing the two together in dishes like mango salsa, salads, and fruity gazpachos.
80. Make it all in one pot. Nobody wants to make extra dishes so one-pot recipes like Sweet-and-Sour Carrots make the meal, and clean up, so much easier.
Image zoom Photo: Teresa Sabga
81. Choose them for their benefits. It’s easy to cook for taste alone, but getting to know immunity-boosting recipes that rely on ingredients like carrots and mushrooms may just help you through the allergy or flu seasons.
82. Dehydrating vegetables can be the ‘cooking’ option few think of. Either invest in a dehydrator or set your oven at a low temperature to create veggie chips, fruit leathers, and more.
83. Go half and half. Replace half of your main ingredient with veggies, like in Creamy Carrot and Herb Linguine, to bulk up your meal and give you a vegetable boost.
84. Say cheese with a drizzle of decadent sauce which can instantly upgrade a bowl of steamed veggies. Keep it light, but still indulgent feeling, with our healthier cheese sauce.
85. Change up your deviled eggs by blending vegetables in with the creamy filling. This makes a particularly impressive display if you use bright produce like beets or peas.
86. Pep up polenta by blending in creamy white vegetables like cauliflower or turnips.
87. Serve up smoky flavor by using the easy technique of cold smoking on vegetables. Now there’s no need to fire up the grill for amped up veggies.
88. Make the vegetables the dish. Some veggie recipes, like Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, bake into a perfectly packaged dish, making plates totally unnecessary.
89. Roll out the ravioli and make it even better by adding in veggies. Creamy vegetables like butternut squash or pureed spinach make for great pasta fillings.
90. Create caramelized goodness by cooking veggies low-and-slow. The results of this are tender and ultra rich vegetables.
91. Hasselback your next veggie of choice for a fun dinner side. Thinly slice foods like potatoes, zucchini, or even carrots to create an evenly cooked, but lightly crispy, dish.
92. Skip the fries. Next time they ask if you want fries for that, say no, and ask for a salad instead. Or if fries are a must have opt for a healthier version like these Chili-Cheese Spiralizer Fries.
93. Plan ahead. While eating more vegetables may sound fantastic, the reality is that busy schedules often make the daily washing, trimming, chopping, and roasting of fresh food unrealistic. Consider prepping the week’s vegetables over the weekend, so it’s easier for you to grab and cook.
94. Start every meal with a salad. You may not want to eat multiple salads everyday forever, but it’s a great place to start.
95. Make life easier. Invest in a reasonably priced, all-purpose chef’s knife. The sharp tool will make quick and efficient work of any kind of vegetable butchery.
Do you need to get more vegetables into your diet? If you do, you’re not alone. Most people don’t eat all the servings of vegetables that they should. Even some vegetarians and vegans, people who eat plant-based diets, admit they just don’t like vegetables. Yes, it is entirely possible to eat a plant-based diet without eating a lot of…well, plants. Of course we all know we are supposed to eat our vegetables because they are healthy for us, even perhaps, the most health-promoting food group that exists. Yet, some people still can’t bring themselves to eat them. Perhaps it is genetic. Researchers have discovered that 25 percent of the population has a genetic trait that makes them more sensitive to bitter tastes. These “super-tasters,” as they are called, tend to not like cruciferous vegetables, dark greens or other bitter veggies such as eggplant. Or maybe you have bad memories of being forced to sit at the table until you ate all your peas or spinach and now you can’t stand the sight of them.
The good news is that people can learn to like veggies. No one is saying you have to learn to love all veggies but there are ways to make many of them more appealing to you. There are ways to cook veggies that will remove the bitter taste and ways to make eating veggies fun and exciting. Check out my tips on how to get yourself or some veggie-hater you know to eat more vegetables and like it … maybe even love it.
1. Expose Yourself to More Veggies
In order to eat more veggies, you need to get yourself in the same room with them. Read cookbooks and online recipes (like ours here at One Green Planet) and get inspiration for new dishes. Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and have a box of vegetables delivered to your door every week. You will probably get veggies you never would have chosen yourself. Visit your local farmers’ market and the produce department of your favorite supermarket and take your time looking at the variety of vegetables available to you. Check out all the shapes and colors and don’t be afraid to ask questions from the people who know produce best. They will be happy to offer advice and cooking suggestions for each veggie. Make it a goal to buy one or two new vegetables each week, read up on the best ways to cook them and try them in a recipe that sounds delicious.
2. Make Veggies Easy and Available
Out of sight, out of mind. If you buy veggies and then stick them in the back of the fridge, you might next see them when they look like a science experiment a month later. Keep your veggies where you can see them. Put them in a pretty bowl on the counter or on top of the fridge. If they must be refrigerated, put the veggies on the top shelf in the front so you see them as soon as you open the door. Keep organic frozen veggies in the freezer so you will always have some on hand. Check out 6 Tips to Keep Your Veggies Fresh Longer for storage advice.
Prep veggies in advance to make them more accessible. Cut up carrots, celery, bell peppers and zucchini and put them in storage bags or containers with other easy-to-eat veggies like cherry tomatoes and snap peas. Alternatively, you can buy pre-cut vegetables at the store. When we look for a snack, we will be more likely to grab the cut-up veggies since all the work has already been done. Grab a bag of raw veggies to take with you to work or when you go shopping. When hunger pangs strike, reach for that bag of veggies rather than buying chips or donuts.
3. Drink Your Veggies
There is a reason those veggie juices on the market do so well. For some people, it’s easier to get a day’s worth of vegetable servings if they can fit several of them into one drink than having to cook and eat them in their whole forms. Get out your blender and make your own veggie juices and smoothies with beets, kale, cucumbers, and carrots. Try adding some fruit like coconut, watermelon and apples for sweetness and flavor. Here are 7 Delicious Juice Recipes and the Ultimate Green Juice Cheat Sheet to help get you started.
4. Put Veggies Into Your Favorite Foods
Maybe you think of vegetables as a side dish all on their own, but you can increase the chances of your liking a vegetable if you put it into a dish you already like. If you love mac and cheese, add broccoli or spinach to it or make the sauce with squash. Lasagna and all its cheesy layers is a great place to put some greens or zucchini slices like in this Creamy Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna. If burgers are your idea of comfort food, try making them out of something different like roasted beets or eggplant . Check out 10 Vegetables You Can Make Burgers With for lots of ideas. Use vegetables such as eggplant, mushrooms, cauliflower and beets in place of meat in your favorite dishes like Philly Cheesesteaks, Sloppy Joes, tacos or spaghetti and meatballs. See this article 10 Vegetables that Can Substitute for Meat, for inspiration and recipe ideas.
5. Use Veggies in Every Dish You Make
Make it a habit to add at least one vegetable into every single dish you make. If you make pasta, add spinach, broccoli or cherry tomatoes to the dish. Try this Vegetable Rigatoni with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce or my Creamy Rotini Alfredo with Asparagus and Peas. Chili is the perfect food to bulk up with veggies such as carrots, parsnips, beans, tomatoes, zucchini and more. This Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili is hearty and delicious. Soups usually start with veggies; add more such as beans, corn, squash or cauliflower. If you don’t want chunks of vegetables, blend them into the soup for smooth, creamy flavor. Try this Spring Kale and Dill Soup with Rice and this Mango Butternut Squash Soup. Salads can be so much more than just lettuce and tomatoes. Use cabbage, carrots, radishes, jicama, broccoli, spinach, kale and pretty much any vegetable that exists. Take a look at this Superfood Salad with Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Chickpeas, Kale, Sprouts and Seeds.
Make new, amazing salad dressings to make your salads even more appealing. Having pizza for dinner? Try new veggie toppings – my favorites are mushrooms, artichoke hearts, caramelized onions and olives but I would love a slice of this Fresh Summer Vegan Pesto Pizza. You can even make the pizza crust out of vegetables like this Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Black Mung Bean Curry.
Replace the carbs and starches in your meals with veggies. Instead of pasta, make noodles out of zucchini, eggplant, spaghetti squash and carrots like this Roasted Pepper Zucchini Pasta. Use slices of eggplant to layer a gluten-free lasagna. Lettuce and other green leaves make great wraps for your favorite fillings. Try these Raw Zucchini Wraps and these Veggie-Filled Collard Green Wraps.
6. Start Your Day With Veggies
I eat vegetables for breakfast every single day. My favorite breakfast is hummus on brown rice toast topped with marinated cucumbers, raw spinach and raw tomatoes. Mix vegetables such as onions, zucchini, mushrooms and greens into your tofu scrambles. Fill a tofu or chickpea omelet with sauteed tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms or spinach. Put veggies in your muffins like these Butternut Squash Muffins and in your pancakes as in these Mushroom Rosemary Pancakes. Have a Spinach and Almond Feta Breakfast Wrap or a Vegan Breakfast Pizza. Before you know it, breakfast will be your favorite meal of the day.
7. Seasoning, Dip and Sauces
Even if you like the taste of vegetables, seasoning them always makes them taste better. Marinate veggies in a mix of tamari, lemon, balsamic or apple cider vinegar and your favorite herbs and spices. This article on 10 Ways to Make Awesome BBQ Sauces, Rubs and Marinades lists ideas for getting the most flavor out of your food. Or toss them in a spice blend with an Italian or Asian twist. Saute them in olive oil or coconut oil. Glaze them with maple syrup.
Vegetables like to get dressed up so try some dips and sauces to dress them in, especially in the beginning when you are learning to like them. Whip up a salsa verde or Tzatziki dressing to dip raw veggies in. Make Asian stir-fry sauces or a vegan cheese sauce to drizzle over your broccoli. Check out 15 Double-Dip Worthy Vegan Dips for incredible recipes.
Think of veggies when you need a spread for your next sandwich. Use hummus or pesto instead of mayo or mustard. Add minced veggies to the cream cheese you’re about to spread on your bagel. Enjoy the savory flavor of this Char-Roasted Eggplant Spread or this lovely Muhammara Spread.
8. Party Food
Have fun with veggies and invite them to your parties, cookouts and picnics. You can have your bowls of chips and pretzels but be sure to put out a crudité platter and bowls of kale chips and roasted chickpeas as well. Serve veggie versions of fun foods like Butternut Squash Tacos with Tempeh Chorizo, Spicy Nachos, Mini-Calzones, Onion Rings and vegan Mozzarella Sticks. Food on a stick is always a hit so make skewered food like these Spicy Balsamic Veggie Kebabs at your next barbecue. Have a veggie-themed potluck where everyone has to bring a vegetable dish. Make it a contest and give the best dish a blue ribbon and a prize – maybe a bouquet of greens.
9. Challenge Yourself
Set fun and attainable goals for yourself and keep track on a list where you can check off your accomplishments. Possible weekly goals can include buying one or two new vegetables each shopping trip, cooking a new vegetable, trying a familiar vegetable in a new way or practicing Meatless Monday and having one “vegetables only” day. Daily goals might be incorporating one vegetable into each meal of the day or eating one veggie-focused snack. Maybe this is the week to give Brussels sprouts or artichokes a try?
10. Don’t Make a Big Deal about It
Adding more veggies to your meals might be a very big deal to you but it’s better if you act like eating veggies is the most natural thing in the world. Sometimes when we make a big deal out of something, it’s even harder to do. Serve vegetables to your family without bringing it to their attention. Vegetables should just be a regular part of eating, not something you have to bribe or reward people into doing. When we do that, we are saying that vegetables are not enjoyable but something they need to get through in order to get the reward. Be enthusiastic about everything you set on the table because it’s all delicious, even the vegetables.
The truth is I didn’t always like vegetables but the more I ate them, the more I loved them. It may not happen overnight but I promise you, if you give veggies a chance and try them in lots of different ways, you will find ones you like and even love.
Lead Image Source: Fresh Summer Vegan Pesto Pizza
Despite ever-changing advice on what’s best for us, all experts agree that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is healthiest. Fresh, frozen and even canned all count, and may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer, plus help fight the signs of ageing.
A recent study by University College London reported increasing health benefits for people who ate up to seven or more portions of fruits and vegetables a day, with vegetables and salad proving more beneficial than fruit. Studies such as this continue to stress the value of plant-based foods in our diets, reminding us not only of the importance of fibre, but also colour. Many of the beneficial compounds in plants are linked to their colour pigments, so it’s important to eat a wide variety to get all the nutrients your body needs.
Top tips to help you eat more fruits and vegetables
1. Start with breakfast
If you’re aiming to pack more portions into your day, it’s worth starting as you mean to go on. Dried and fresh fruit can be added to porridge bowls or cereals, or you can include grilled tomatoes, mushrooms or beans in savoury breakfasts.
Sweetcorn fritters with eggs & black bean salsa
Crunchy oat clusters with peach & yogurt
Healthy full English
Avocado & black bean eggs
Clementine & vanilla porridge with citrus salsa
2. Include fruit and veg in snacks
Snacks are a great way to work in an extra portion of fruits and vegetables in between meals. Each of the following suggestions provides one portion:
- Veggie dippers (80g): try a mix of peppers, baby sweetcorn, cucumber batons and radishes
- One glass (150ml) of unsweetened 100% veg juice: when possible, make it fresh and include the natural pulp for fibre
- A small bowl of mixed salad: try a crisp slaw with a homemade oil-based dressing
- Lettuce wraps: use Little Gem leaves and fill with three tablespoons of spicy Mexican bean salsa
- Half an avocado scooped straight from its skin with a teaspoon: avocados – which are actually a fruit – have a high protein content, so they help to keep you fuller for longer
- A cupped handful (30g) of dried fruit, such as apricots, sultanas or goji berries
- One medium piece of fruit
3. Eat the rainbow
As well as being rich in essential vitamins, fruits and vegetables are packed with plant compounds, important for maintaining health and wellbeing. These compounds are found across the colour spectrum, but certain colours are especially rich in powerful protectors.
Red fruits and vegetables supply lycopene, which protects the skin from sun damage and may help against certain cancers.
- pink grapefruit
- red peppers
Orange fruits and vegetables are packed with beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A for healthy skin.
- sweet potatoes
Yellow fruits and vegetables supply the carotenoids – lutein and zeaxanthin – that protect the eyes from damage and help to reduce the risk of developing cataracts.
- yellow peppers
- yellow courgettes
Green fruits and vegetables are rich in energising chlorophyll.
- kiwi fruits
- green grapes
Purple fruits and vegetables are a good source of protective anthocyanins, which are great anti-agers.
- red cabbage
- red grapes
4. Pack a healthy lunch
Planning ahead and making your own packed lunches can save time and money, and it’s usually more nutritious and tempting than a shop-bought sandwich. Salads offer plenty of opportunities to add extra vegetables, while soups can be great vehicles for beans and pulses.
Tasty packed lunch ideas:
Minty griddled chicken & peach salad
Wholemeal wraps with minty pea hummus & beetroot
Baked falafel & cauliflower tabbouleh with avocado, pea & feta smash
Curried mango & chickpea pot
5. Plan produce-packed dinners
With a bit of forward planning, you can ensure your dinners are full of nutritious fruits and vegetables. Try setting some time aside at the weekend to choose some recipes, then write a shopping list so you know exactly what you’ll need and when. Check the use-by dates on fresh produce, or opt for canned or frozen foods for later on in the week.
Delicious dinner options:
Quinoa chilli with avocado & coriander
Slow cooker ratatouille
BBQ chicken drummers with green goddess salad
Miso noodles with fried eggs
Spanish pork with beans
What counts as a portion?
Once you know how much of each ingredient constitutes a portion, it’s easier to know how much to eat. Take our quiz to find out what counts as one portion.
Although the recent study reported vegetables, salad, fresh and dried fruit were best, the following also count:
- Fruit and veg cooked in stews and soups, plus frozen, canned and dried fruit and veg.
- We are advised to keep an eye on the amount of fruit juice and smoothies we consume. Limit your consumption of fruit or vegetable juices and smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day (one portion). Crushing fruit into juice releases the sugars contained in the fruit, which can cause damage to teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies are sugary, so limit these to a combined total of 150ml a day and enjoy as part of a meal to minimise the effects on your teeth.
- Potatoes don’t count because we tend to use them as a starch in place of bread, pasta or rice. However, they are still a source of fibre, B vitamins and potassium. Sweet potatoes do count because they are often eaten in addition to the starchy food in a meal.
- A smoothie containing 80g each (including the pulp) of two different fruit or veg counts as a maximum of two.
This article was last reviewed in November 2019 by nutritional therapist Kerry Torrens.
A registered Nutritional Therapist, Kerry Torrens is a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food magazine. Kerry is a member of the The Royal Society of Medicine, Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC), British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT).
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
Looking for more inspiration to boost your fruit and veg intake? Take a look at our fruit and veg-packed recipes.
- Substitute spinach, onions, or mushrooms for one of the eggs or half the cheese in your morning omelet. This will add volume but decrease the fat!
- Add fruit to your whole-grain cereal, top with low-fat milk and grab a bottle of vegetable juice for the road.
- Get up 10 minutes early or plan an on-the-go nutritious breakfast (including fruits or vegetables) the night before.
- Make some thick oatmeal in a mug that’ll fit in your car’s console. Top with nuts, seeds or dried fruit.
- Make a waffle or pancake the night before (add blueberries and sprinkle wheat germ in the batter) then pop it in the toaster before you leave in the morning.
- Reduce the amount of meat or cheese on a sandwich by ½ and replace with veggies.
- Chicken or tuna salad – add an equal amount of chopped fruits or veggies such as celery, grated carrots, cucumber, apples, grapes, pineapple, or dried cranberries.
- Add ½ a sliced banana or 1 sliced apple to a peanut butter sandwich and reduce the amount of peanut butter by half.
- Replace pasta in soups with veggies.
- When eating out, chose vegetarian options that have lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Reduce your portion of meat at a meal and have an extra serving of veggies or salad
- Replace ½ pasta portion with vegetables topped with sauce
- Stir-fry veggies with chicken instead of other starchy foods
- Make chili with ½ the meat replaced with beans and veggies
- Make a portabella mushroom or black bean burger instead of your traditional hamburger
- 1 cup of whole strawberries AND 1 cup of carrots with 1/4 cup of low-calorie dip
- Pop a few strawberries, blueberries, carrots, broccoli, or any other ‘popable’ fruits & veggies; they’re great options to snack on as is
- Make fruit kabobs or fruit popsicles
- Try hummus with carrots, celery, cauliflower, or other vegetables
- Guacamole! It’s heart healthy and delicious
- Apples. DYK? 1 snack-size bag of corn chips (1 oz) has the same number of calories as a small apple
Jump To …
How to Create a Healthy Eating Plan
What About Your Favorite Foods?
100-Calorie Snack Comparison Chart
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Fill Half Your Plate with Fruits & Veggies
Recipes with Lots of Fruits & Veggies
How Many Fruits and Vegetables Do You Need?
What Does a Cup of Fruits & Veggies Look Like?
The Importance of Physical Activity