Occasionally, I’d eat a salad at home or in a restaurant. However, I think salad veggies were merely vehicles to get dressing into my mouth. And I don’t mean those low-fat vinaigrette types of salad dressings. I mean the creamy, tangy, and tasty dressings that negate any salad’s health benefits and clog your arteries on their way down to your digestive system.
(I drowned a lot of perfectly healthy vegetables with salad dressing – just barely avoided turning them into a salad soup. Toss some croutons in with the heavy dressing and you convert a salad into a very unhealthy food option.)
Let’s face it, until recently, fruits and vegetables weren’t high on my desired foods list. I didn’t hate them. I just preferred other foods – almost ANY other food!
Flash Forward to Mid-2011
When I received Dr. Piotrowski’s 1,500 and 1,800 calorie food plans, I wasn’t surprised to see that they included fruits and vegetables. However, I was startled to see just how many servings each included – 7 for 1,500 kcal and 9 for 1,800 kcal.
Even though my calorie range was reduced to 1,400-1,700, I’m still expected to eat at least 7 servings a day.
I knew my healthy living project would change my eating habits dramatically. And while I initially struggled to eat at least 7 servings of vegetables and fruit per day, I now meet this goal every day.
In fact, I’ve eaten more fruits and vegetables in the last six weeks than the entire six years leading up to it. Seriously.
How I Do It
Some people have asked how I work so many servings of fruits and vegetables into my daily diet. There’s no magic solution, but I thought I’d share a few methods that work for me.
Note: Some ideas may not tickle your taste buds. That’s okay. I do what works for me. You need to do what works for you.
More Fruit, Please!
- Throw fruit on or in other foods (cereal, yogurt, salads, etc).
- Put some fruit a bowl with a dollop of fat-free Cool Whip.
- Slice an apple, sprinkle it with cinnamon, and nuke it for a warm tasty treat
- Freeze your fruit. Frozen grapes make a sweet crunchy treat. It’s also kind of cool (get it?) to use frozen grapes as ice cubes in drinks. Bananas are good frozen. My friend told me she buys bags of frozen berries and eats them out of the bag as a snack. Haven’t tried that yet, but I will.
- Dip fruit in fat-free flavored yogurt or plain yogurt with some honey and/or vanilla. Double-sweet goodness.
- Make an easy fruit salad. Slice a bunch of fruit you like. Mix 1 part fresh lime juice to 2 parts honey – enough to lightly cover (do not drown!) all the fruit. Stir the honey-lime “dressing” into the fruit; it sweetens and preserves the fruit. If you’ve got any fresh mint, it’s a nice (but not required) addition.
- Slice them. I know it’s odd, but I don’t like peeling oranges. It’s a sticky and messy process. Ripe fruits like peaches, apples, plums, etc. are also messy, drippy things to eat when they’re whole. So, I slice them. I know it’s a little fussy, but it makes them easier (and neater) to eat. It accommodates my quirk; it helps me to eat more fruit.
- Eat sliced zucchini, summer squash, baby carrots, grape/cherry tomatoes, etc with a high-protein dip of fat-free cottage cheese mixed with a tablespoon of fat-free salad dressing.
- Throw some chopped/diced veggies into egg white or egg-beater omelets, scrambles, or frittatas (e.g., diced onions, zucchini, broccoli, tomatoes).
- Spread a light Laughing Cow cheese wedge (light garlic and herb is my fav) on celery (aka almighty flavorless vegetable), baby carrots, or any other veggie.
- Green Giant Just for One frozen vegetables are single servings of veggies in a low-fat, low-calorie cheese sauce – YUM! I often add some additional veggies into the mix; there’s enough cheese sauce to cover more than what’s in the container.
- Grilled vegetables with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper are great this time of year. You can roast them in the oven, too.
- Eat Greek Village Salad (or two or three). This salad includes all the veggies I love and none of the “filler” lettuce or other “green leafy stuff”. It’s mostly made up of tomatoes, cucumbers, red/Vidalia onions, red/yellow/orange bell peppers, and feta. You can customize it by adding other things you have on hand or like (radishes, chickpeas, etc). I eat TONS of this stuff. I’ll post our recipe (such as it is – too easy to really consider it a “recipe”).
- Slice veggies and throw them into a wrap or pita. Use hummus or tzatziki for a protein rich condiment instead of mayo.
- Speaking of hummus and tzatziki, they make great high protein dips for veggies.
- I buy 5.5-oz can six-packs of V8 and drink one at breakfast or lunch. Generally, I try to avoid drinking my fruits and vegetables, but a V8 a few days a week works for me.
- Throw some cumin, curry or another spice you like on sliced cauliflower. Roast the cauliflower and eat it as a snack (like popcorn).
- Add some sliced/chopped vegetables to pasta or in sandwiches. Adding sliced cucumbers to a sandwich adds a nice crunch.
Get Thee to a Produce Aisle!
This is the perfect time of year to increase my daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Most major supermarkets have tried to add locally grown, in-season produce to their offerings. Plus, there are farmers’ markets and farmstands galore.
The fruits and veggies are good and plentiful, so it’s easy to incorporate more of them into my new diet.
What about You?
I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use veggies and fruits. What do you do? Do you have a great recipe or tip regarding how to eat more of them?