Sneaking in Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

Sneaking in Servings of Fruits and Vegetables

rainbowAre you getting enough fruits and vegetables in your daily diet? You should be getting 7-13 servings every day, most of those coming from vegetables (a serving generally equals ½ cup). According to the USDA, the average American consumes only 4.4 servings. Unfortunately, most of those are starches drowning in fat, grease, salt and sugar. Did you know the amount of sugar in 1/2 cup of Prego Marinara Sauce is equivalent to that of a Krispy Kreme donut? Make sure your produce is mostly fresh or frozen with no added salt or sugar.

We understand it can be difficult to get your recommended servings of fruits and vegetables in all the time. Remember, this doesn’t mean always having a side of steamed broccoli or a salad for lunch. Of course, these are excellent sources but we all need variety in our lives! Below are some great ways to sneak in those veggies and fruits to your everyday foods!

  • Thicken spaghetti sauce with pumpkin puree.
  • Mash cauliflower or parsnips in with your mashed potatoes.
  • Substitute spaghetti squash for your pastas, if you still need some “real” pasta, do half spaghetti squash and half 100% whole grain pasta. Top it off with your favorite tomato sauce.
  • If spaghetti squash isn’t your thing, try zucchini noodles with your pasta. See recipe below.
  • Add green peppers, spinach, onions, garlic or mushrooms to your tomato sauces.
  • Add grated carrots, grated zucchini, chopped spinach or onions to your meatloaf, burgers and meatballs. Use one cup per pound of meat.
  • Add diced tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms or jalapeños to your omelets and scrambled eggs. Chopped broccoli and asparagus are great options as well.
  • Add fruit to your oatmeal.  Apples, bananas and blueberries go perfectly.
  • Add half an avocado to your smoothies. It doesn’t affect the taste but makes it extra creamy so you don’t need to use any yogurt (with all that added sugar).
  • Tired of oil and vinegar but still want to keep that salad healthy? Try some vegetable based dressings from butternut squash, tomato, beet or zucchini. Check below for some great recipes.
  • Add carrot, sweet potato or butternut squash puree to any chili or stew recipe.
  • Add celery, onions, apples, grapes or raisins to chicken or tuna salad.

We all need to splurge on our favorite “junk” food from time to time. Just make sure to cook it yourself and always add in some plant based goodies.

  • Sneak pureed sweet potato or butternut squash into your mac and cheese. Peas and broccoli are other great additions. Tip: use quinoa instead of macaroni. Trust me, it’s delicious and much healthier.
  • Add tomato, spinach or arugula to a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Homemade pizza night? Pile on the veggies! Go the extra mile and make a cauliflower pizza crust. See below for the recipe.
  • Add homemade applesauce to your baking recipes in place of oil (substitute half the oil with applesauce)
  • Add carrot or sweet potato puree to brownies, cakes or cookies.

zucc noodlesZucchini Spaghetti

5 zucchinis

Sea salt, to taste

Ground pepper, to taste

Wash zucchini. Run a julienne peeler over the zucchini several times until you have a bowl of noodles. Place noodles in a microwave safe dish and cook on high for 2 minutes. Cook longer until you’ve reached the texture you desire.

The longer you cook them the softer they become. Watch noodles closely to be sure you are not overcooking them or they will become soggy. Drain excess liquid and toss with salt and pepper to taste, or add tomato and mushroom sauce.

cauli pizza crustCauliflower Pizza Crust

1 medium head of cauliflower-should yield 2-3 cups

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 shredded mozzarella cheese

1 egg, whisked

Red pepper flakes, optional

Place a pizza stone in the oven (or baking sheet). Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut florets off cauliflower and place in food processor. Pulse in your food processor for about 30 seconds until the cauliflower is “riced.” You should end up with 2 to 3 cups. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and microwave 4-5 minutes. Place cooked cauliflower onto a clean towel and allow to cool completely.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring as much water as you possibly can out of it.

In a large bowl, combine cauliflower, Parmesan, mozzarella, salt, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder and red pepper flakes (optional). Add egg and mix with your hands.

Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Roll or pat it out evenly, making sure it isn’t too thick or thin.

Using a cutting board, slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 8 – 11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.

Add your pizza toppings (lots of veggies!) and slide parchment with pizza back in the hot oven. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Let pizza cool a few minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

butternut dressingButternut Squash Dressing

1 heaping cup cooked butternut squash

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon nama shoyu (or soy sauce)

2 tablespoons water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till smooth.

beet dressingSweet and Tart Beet Dressing

1 cup chopped up beets (about 1 large beet)

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons honey

1 clove crushed garlic

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt

Place all of the ingredients into your food processor and puree until the mixture is smooth.

tomato curryTomato Curry Dressing

2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped (or 2 cups cherry tomatoes)

1/4 cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 pitted dates

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon curry powder

Pepper, to taste

1 small garlic clove, optional

Blend all ingredients on high and enjoy!

zucc dressingZucchini Dressing

1 large zucchini, chopped

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 pitted dates

3 tablespoons nama shoyu (or soy sauce)

3 tablespoons ground flax seed

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon coriander

Blend all dressing ingredients on high until smooth and creamy. Mix salad ingredients and top with the dressing as desired.


Teresa M., RN







Sources: Choosing Raw, The Lucky Penny

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