At the end of last year, while finishing out Amanda's Holiday Bootie Buster, I decided that one of my new goals for the year needed to include her challenge to eat seven fruits and veggies every day. I will tell you that this is not an easy one for me. I am really good to get 3 or 4 but getting all 7 in takes planning. And to be honest, I still haven't managed to do it every day. But I figure that I'm still getting more than I used to and any small improvement is a step in the right direction. The biggest bonus of when I do get them in is that I'm full. I don't feel like I need the junk as much. I get tempted when I'm hungry and something sweet or salty (chips are a real problem for me) seem to be easier to reach for than preparing something healthy. So if I'm full, I'm not really looking for junk.
I had gotten a comment from Just Trying is for Little Girls a little while ago about how to fit them all in because I think it's a challenge for anyone who tried it. So here's how I've been cramming in my fruits and veggies. Some are things I did before and some things are new that hopefully will become a part of my routine, a habit, and a lifestyle change.
Breakfast: while I would much rather have a muffin, pancakes, or waffles, I choose to have oatmeal with blueberries or eggs with veggies. I can get one serving first thing in the morning.
Salmon, spinach, and salsa omelet.
Salsa is a great way to get in your veggies. We make our own from our garden. We use peppers, onions, tomatoes and lots of spices. I use salsa on a lot of things. It gives lots of flavor and since we made it, I know what went in it. It's good on baked potatoes, eggs, baked or grilled chicken, and of course, burritos.
Morning snack: includes usually an apple or an orange
Lunch: salads are an easy way to get at least 2 veggies in. If you have at least one cup of spinach and one cup of other various veggies. My favorite would be cucumbers, tomatoes, and broccoli. Soups are another great way to get veggies in at lunchtime. I find it hard to put a whole cup of fresh veggies in a sandwich so I usually have get some on the side as well if I choose to have that for lunch.
Afternoon snack: We have lots of fruit that we bottled ourselves and the kids like these for after school snacks with graham crackers. My favorite would be applesauce or pears.
The applesauce had no sugar added, just lots of spices and it tastes better than any store bought applesauce out there.
Lately, though, we have been enjoying smoothies. I requested money for a really nice blender for Christmas from my parents. We had been looking at the Vitamix or Blendtec. I wanted something that would use the whole fruit or vegetable that would puree it nicely instead of just a juicer. While doing a search for consumer comparisons we came across a Kitchen Aid model that seemed to do just as good of job but cost a whole heck of a lot less. I had my doubts but that's what we ended up getting. I love it. I have put in a whole orange and it purees it so quickly and so well. Granted that the peel is bitter and you have to put something in to make up for that, but that's o.k. This easily counts for 2 fruits and veggies.
This one had a banana, pear, orange, yogurt, and 2 handfuls of spinach. It was by far the sweetest one and despite it's green appearance was so good. All but one of my children drank it down. My 3rd child, and pickiest eater tried it and wrinkled her nose and refused. Oh well. At least she tasted it.
This one had blueberries, a whole orange, and spinach. It wasn't the best. It had a very bitter aftertaste. I learned that it needed some yogurt or more fruit. But I did drink the whole thing.
Dinner: I usually have 2 portions of veggies at dinner. And we like green beans and broccoli so that's mostly what we eat.
But here again, I love soups. If you use a tomato base and then add more veggies it can count as two. Soups won't work as well in the summer so I'm taking advantage while it's cold. I love soups. They're easy to make and can be so good for you!
We also made our own spaghetti sauce and it's so good! It's packed with onions, garlic, and peppers along with tomatoes and no sugar added. We made over 60 quarts last year and are just now about to run out. It makes me sad to think that we'll have to buy store sauce.
So there you have it. If I follow this as a guideline it's pretty easy to get them all in. However, we all have days where the plan just doesn't work. In these cases my cheater method is to drink V8. A regular size bottle is worth 3 veggies. The smaller cans are worth one. I am aware of the sodium content in these though and try not to do it too often. I've also tried the lower sodium version and it's not worth it. Yuck. Plus, the way I sweat and get cramps, I figure that sodium isn't hurting me too much.
What secrets do you use to get in your fruits and veggies?
What health benefits do you see the most from eating more fruits and veggies?
Does your whole family enjoy them?