How am I supposed to eat all those fruits and vegetables?

Consumer Reports News: September 27, 2010 03:57 PM

Government recommendations say that adults should consume at least two to four servings of fruits a day and three to five servings of vegetables. Yet less than a third of us consume even those lower limits. How exactly are you supposed to get all that produce into your life? Here are some of our favorites. (And why don’t you tell us some of yours?)

Breakfast: Get off to a good start.

1. Start with juice. Just 6 ounces of 100-percent juice (not fruit "drink") counts as a serving.

2. Add some sliced banana, berries, prunes, raisins, or other fruit to your cereal—hot or cold. It takes only a quarter cup of dried fruit, a half cup of berries, or one medium piece of fruit like a banana to make a full serving.

3. Mix berries or sliced apples or bananas into pancake or waffle batter and then top with extra fruit.

4. Create a vegetable omelette—perhaps a Spanish omelette with onions, peppers, and tomatoes, or any other combination that appeals to you. Half a cup of chopped vegetables like onions and peppers equals a serving.

5. If you breakfast on bread or toast, try an open-faced sandwich of low-fat cottage cheese and fresh fruit (banana, melon, blueberries, or strawberries) or vegetables (onion, summer squash, or green or red peppers).

Lunch: How to build a better salad—or sandwich.

6. Build a salad on chicory, romaine, or spinach. One cup of a raw leafy vegetable makes one serving.

7. That salad becomes two servings with the addition of just half a cup of any combination of such ingredients as broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, mushrooms, peppers, or tomatoes.

8. Turn yogurt into a full serving of fruit by adding a half-cup of berries or a chopped piece of fruit.

9. If you make your soup thick with vegetables, every cup of soup could easily hold a half-cup serving.

10. Use vegetables like broccoli, celery, and green and red peppers to add texture and color to pasta and rice salads.

11. Add tomatoes, shredded carrots, or bean sprouts to sandwiches.

Dinner: The main dish—and beyond. 

12. Complement poultry and pork with generous helpings of tart fruits such as cranberries, green apples, oranges, or raspberries.

13. A half-cup of tomato sauce counts as a serving of cooked vegetable.

14. Fortify stews, casseroles, and dishes like lasagna with extra vegetables.

15. Thicken soups or gravies with finely chopped or pureed carrots.

Appetizers: Add a first course.

16. Have a slice of melon, a half grapefruit, or—if you can spare the preparation time—a half cup of fruit salad as a prelude to any meal.

17. Try a cold fruit soup (especially nice in summer).

18. Prepare special vegetable appetizers, such as fricasseed wild mushrooms or eggplant with herbed ricotta.

Dessert: Finish with fruit

19. Prepare fruit desserts such as poached pears and baked apples.

20. If you treat yourself to ice cream or cake, top it with berries or sliced apples, bananas, peaches, or plums.

21. Skip the preparation altogether and just have a piece of fresh fruit.

Snacks: Satisfy the urge to munch.

22. Snack on grapes, strawberries, melon balls, sliced kiwi, and other bite-sized pieces of fruit.

23. Don't stop at carrot and celery sticks. Raw broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, summer squash, and red and green peppers all offer flavor and texture. You can use them to replace chips for dipping—and use vegetable salsa for the dip.

Eating on the run

If you frequently skip meals or eat on the run, squeezing more servings of fruits and vegetables into your diet will require a little extra planning.

24. Stock up on dried fruits and frozen fruits and vegetables.

25. Keep a supply of carrot and celery sticks and other cut up vegetables stored in water in the refrigerator.

26. If you brown-bag it to work, bring raw vegetables as a side dish.

27. Instead of coffee, tea, or soda on beverage breaks, drink fruit or vegetable juices. Stock up on small boxes or cans that can travel easily.

28. Replace or at least supplement snacks with fruits. Apples and oranges travel well, as do boxes of raisins and bags of dried fruit.

29. If you have time only for a prepared microwave dinner, heat up some frozen vegetables along with it. You can add them to the dish if it's a pasta or stew, or eat them on the side.

30. When you don't have time to prepare a salad, assemble one at the supermarket salad bar.

Now it's you're turn. What are some of your favorite ways to fit in fruits and vegetables?

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