5 Easy Ways to Eat More Fruit and Veggies

We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables! Did you know over 2/3rds of Americans don’t meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake?!  We typically throw away spoil fruits and vegetable two times a week on average, which translates into about $42 a week!
I am not saying you need to sacrificing taste or flavor or have to eat salads at every meal, I’m here to say “you can’t mess it up”!  Just add in fruits and vegetables to any dish you’re making. No matter what the recipes says, you can always add fruits and vegetables to any dish to help bump up the nutrition. Include a variety of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies in your meals. They tend to cost less and since they’re at their peak they tend to be more flavorful and nutrient-rich. Below are some simple ways to help bulk up your diet with more fruits and veggies.

1. Blend meat with mushrooms. The trend is to blend!  Blend finely chopped mushrooms into any of your favorite ground meat dishes, like meatballs or meatloaf (I like to do about 50% meat 50% mushrooms).  You’ll increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your meal while decreasing fat and calories.  The finely chopped mushrooms blend so well with the ground meat that you’ll barely notice the difference. In fact, I think the mushrooms add moisture and flavor – mushrooms have umami flavor just like meat. Plus, substituting mushrooms for meat is a smart choice for your wallet, too!

Learn more about “blendability” from my friends at The Mushroom Council and try some fabulous recipes like these delicious looking Chicken and Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes. Grainfree-Enchiladas

Chicken And Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes
Chicken And Mushroom Enchiladas Verdes

2. Bust out the slow cooker

General Tsos

This image was reprinted with permission from http://mealmakeovermoms.com/ and http://healthyaperture.com

You really can’t beat a meal that cooks itself. The basic ingredients are protein (whatever kinds your family loves) and vegetables. Use water and herbs to add tons of flavor without a lot of sodium. Find an easy, delicious recipe you can follow like my General Tso’s Slow Cooker Chicken. The cost of making it at home is a fraction of what it costs to order take-out. My version costs about $13.00 and feeds 4 people whereas you’d pay that much for 1 entrée at a restaurant/for take out. Not only that, but you get to control the quality of ingredients that are used to prepare it. It’s a win-win!

Photo From: ohsheglows.com

Photo From: ohsheglows.com

3. Add veggies to a DIY smoothie

If you’re not crazy about eating your greens, incorporating them into your smoothies is a great way to disguise them!  It might sound weird, but you can use green vegetables like spinach, celery, and even kale and it can taste good! When you pair it with fruit like green apple or green grapes, it provide sweetness and I promise it does not taste like you are drinking veggies. This Peppermint Green Patty Green Monster Smoothie is kid-friendly and packed to the brim with deliciously minty and chocolatey flavor, with the added bonus of masking the spinach, you’re family will never know what hit them!

4. Go meatless burger

Black Bean Veggie BurgersDon’t think you can have a meatless BBQ?   Think again! Grilling isn’t just about meat, try adding something new to your barbecue spread. Veggie burgers can be made with chickpeas, black beans, white beans, potatoes, lentils, and pretty much any other vegetable that can be mashed and formed into a patty. Try this delicious Vegetarian Black Bean Burger recipe that’s perfect for your next gathering.  This veggie burger is a crowd-pleaser that even your carnivore friends will love.

5. Pack in the Fruit 

Fruit is an essential part of a healthy diet, delivering many essential vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates for energy and fiber for a healthy digestive tract. It makes for a smart snack, easy to drop in lunch bags or grab when on-the-go.

Take a break for some “afternoon energy” with portable good-for-you snacks, like blueberries! What’s easier than picking them up from the store and eating them right out of the container? Or you can make a portable snack ahead of time and bring it with you to work, like this Gluten-Free Spicy Blueberry trail mix.blueberry trail mix

Stay cool with this healthy and  fun kiwifruit pops dessert to make with your kids. They are so simple and really something the whole family will love. It’s just diced kiwifruit and 100% pineapple juice. This cold snack is so much healthier for you than your typical summer frozen treat.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks to eating more fruit and veggies! Feel free to share your comments and favorite recipes below!

March 30-Day Challenge: Fill Half Your Plate With Fruits & Veggies!

NNM

It’s National Nutrition Month and in going with this year’s theme of “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” I’m using this month’s challenge to encourage people to “eat right” by filling 1/2 your plate with fruits and veggies. With the MyPlate icon, it’s easier than ever to picture what an “ideal” plate would look like (see below).

USDA_MyPlate_green

Here’s how I did it with my breakfast the other day.

balancedplate

This month you can look for delicious (and easy!) produce-focused recipes and tips to help you fill up your plate AND make it taste amazing. My goal is to feature a different produce on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram — something every single day throughout the month. Each message will have the #NNM (national nutrition month) tag.

Join me in Pinning/Tweeting/Posting

Enjoy the Taste, Ditch the Guilt

My goal with this month’s challenge is to make it easier to incorporate delicious veggies and fruits into your every day routine. I think you can absolutely “enjoy the taste” of those fruits and veggies with FLAVOR — herbs, citrus, oils, and yes a bit o’ salt. (Just don’t get crazy.)

My other idea for “enjoying the taste of eating right” is to put food you are craving on the other half of the plate. Think about it – how does it help you enjoy eating if you are policing your food choices? You can eat, enjoy the taste, and ditch the side of guilt.

Joining the FREE challenge is easy:

  • No sign ups required. You just jump in and participate as you can. (Remember–progress, not perfection!)
  • All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, tips, and responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY.
  • If you have a blog, write about your experience and share those links.
  • I’m using the primary hashtag #NNM and secondary #30DayChallenge

What’s your favorite fruit and veggie-friendly recipe?

Leave a comment below and share you favorite veggie dishes with other readers. I’d love to see it and share it.

Produce of the Day: Mushrooms

All this month I’m making it fun to eat better with my 30-Day Challenge “Half Plate Produce” in the spirit of National Nutrition Month’s theme “Enjoy the taste of eating right!”

Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

Feature Produce of the Day: Mushrooms

Do you want to live forever?  Are you looking for a powerful aphrodisiac?  Or are you hoping to develop superhuman strength?  If you lived in any number of ancient civilizations – Egypt, Rome, China – you might have turned to mushrooms in the hopes of meeting these goals.

Unfortunately, it seems that there is no secret elixir to immortality, BUT adding mushrooms to your diet can help improve your health and just might make your life a little longer.  And with all the wonderful varieties of mushrooms available at most grocery stores, it’s fun and easy to eat more mushrooms.

In the past, mushrooms were deemed healthy because of what they don’t contain: lots of calories or fat.  But today we know that mushrooms are also rich in many nutrients that help us stay healthy and strong.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps build strong bones, supports our immune systems, and may help prevent cancer.  It’s estimated that 1 billion people in the world are deficient in Vitamin D, and it’s one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the US.

Mushrooms are one of the only produce sources of Vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

Mushrooms are one of the only plant-based sources of Vitamin B12 (along with quinoa), so these little guys are especially great for anyone who doesn’t eat meat or other animal products.   They add an unbeatable rich “umami” (savory) flavor and richness to food – another perk of that rich umami flavor is that it means mushrooms need very little salt for a whole lot of flavor.

Antioxidants

As with so many fruits and vegetables, mushrooms are rich in antioxidants.  Mushrooms are an excellent source of selenium, which research suggests is linked to fighting cancer and inflammation.  Additionally, mushrooms contain Ergothioneine, an antioxidant that may protect the body’s cells.

As a dietitian, it’s no secret that I love the wonderful nutrient profile of mushrooms, but another thing I love is their versatility.  Throwing some mushrooms into any meal is a great way to get half that plate full of produce.  Here are a few of my favorite tips:

Blendability

The trend is to blend!  Blend finely chopped mushrooms into any of your favorite ground meat dishes, like meatballs or meatloaf (I like to do about 50% meat 50% mushrooms).  You’ll increase the amount of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in your meal while decreasing fat and calories.  The finely chopped mushrooms blend so well with the ground meat that you’ll barely notice the difference. Plus, substituting mushrooms for meat is a smart choice for your wallet, too!

Try these mushroom meatballs – I serve them with fresh marinara, pasta, and a big green salad on the side.  It’s comfort food gone veggie.

The Mushroom Channel has a great resource, The Blendability Calculator, that will show you the nutritional difference and money saved when you blend mushrooms with your meat.

Swapability

Use mushrooms to replace meat in any recipe.  I love grilled portabella caps – just drizzle them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw them on the grill.  I also like to use mushrooms in eggs, pasta, and tacos.  These flavorful Chipotle Mushroom Tacos make a great quick weeknight meal.

Let Mushrooms Be the Star

Often mushrooms are added as an afterthought (picture a few paltry slices on  a pizza) which is a shame, because they can be real showstoppers.  I like to keep it simple and sautee a bunch of shrooms with olive oil and then add fresh parsley/thyme and a little lemon juice.  Mushrooms also roast beautifully in a hot pan or oven.   Serve them alongside a piece of chicken and green veggies and you have a balanced meal with half a plate of produce.

Hungry for More Mushrooms?

If you want more tips about how to incorporate more mushrooms into your meals check out The Mushroom Channel website, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

 

Your Turn to Share

I’ve shared my tips and now I want to hear yours!  What are some of your fave creative ways to add mushrooms into your diet? Tweet, Post, Instagram or Pin your favorite pics and recipes that help make it fun for YOU to eat better. (Use #30DayChallenge and #NNM in your messages.)

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this blog post.)

Meatless Monday Recipe: Broccoli Basil Mac and Cheese

Another Happy Meatless Monday!

Today I wanted to share an incredibly gorgeous and modern take on a family friendly comfort food classic: Broccoli Basil Mac and Cheese. This cozy, yet waistline friendly, casserole is the perfect winter meal for the adults and children in your home, loaded with creamy and melty cheese as well as nutrient packed fresh squash, basil, broccoli and tomatoes. Feel free to get creative with the vegetables and cheeses so suite your family’s preferences. Because there are a number of steps involved, this dish is best made during the weekend and served throughout your busy week (and there should be more than enough for amazing leftovers!). 

Photo from: 101cookbooks.com

Photo from: 101cookbooks.com

Continue reading

Meatless Monday Recipe: Poblano and Portobello Fajitas

Another happy Meatless Monday!

Today I wanted to share a fresh, savory and interactive meal the entire family will love: Poblano Pepper and Portobello Mushroom Fajitas. These simple and vibrant fajitas will be on the table in minutes and provide your family with a nutritious, customizable, and fun evening together without spending too much time in the kitchen prepping or cleaning afterwards. These fajitas can be made spicy (by including the jalapeño and poblano peppers) or mild by leaving them out. Try incorporating sautéed corn and different colored bell peppers as well as experimenting with the various varieties of mushrooms at your market. I love to top mine with fresh guacamole and salsa!

To hear me talk about the health benefits of mushrooms and exciting ways to incorporate them into your everyday meals on Let’s Talk Live, click: HERE

Photo From: minimalistbaker.com

Photo From: minimalistbaker.com

Poblano and Portobello Fajitas
From: minimalistbaker.com
Makes 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 poblano pepper, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 4 bell peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeño, seeds removed and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into thin rounds
  • 4 large or 8 baby Portobello mushrooms, stems removed, wiped clean and thinly sliced
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 teaspoon each: Sea salt, cumin & garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. A1 steak sauce (for mushrooms, optional)
  • 12 small flour or corn tortillas
  • Optional: fresh red onion, hot sauce, cilantro, salsa

Directions:

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot add a dash of olive or coconut oil then the onion and peppers. Season generously with salt, cumin and garlic powder.
  • Cook until softened and slightly caramelized, stirring often. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
  •  Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat, then add the mushrooms. Season with a bit of salt and once softened and brown add a dash of A1. Remove from heat, set aside and cover.
  • Prepare guacamole by adding avocados to a bowl then adding the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt. Fresh cilantro and onion is optional.
  • Warm tortillas in the microwave or oven and you’re ready to go. Serve tortillas with peppers and onions, mushrooms, guacamole and any other toppings you desire such as salsa, hot sauce, and cheese or sour cream (for non-vegan).

Nutritional Information per serving:

Calories: 345
Fat: 12.4 g
Saturated Fat: 2.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 566 mg
Carbohydrate: 51.7 g
Fiber: 9.6 g
Sugar: 11.5 g
Protein: 9 g
Calcium: 105.3 mg