How to Get Enough Fruits and Vegetables

Here are some suggestions on how to meet that goal (and even exceed it!) throughout the day.

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Eat More Vegetables

If you want to look and feel your healthiest, you should eat at least two and a half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit a day on a 2,000-calorie diet. If you don’t eat that many fruits and veggies right now, it can be hard to know how to start getting them into your daily diet. 

 

By Kerri-Ann Jennings, M.S., R.D.

Breakfast

Whether your idea of breakfast is eggs and toast or a bowl of cereal and milk, there are ample opportunities to work fruit — and even vegetables — into your meal.

 

Eggs on the menu? Saute diced onions, peppers, broccoli or mushrooms, then fold into an omelet or scrambled eggs. Or tuck slices of avocado and fresh pico de gallo salsa into a breakfast burrito.

 

Use fruit instead of jelly: Top toast with your favorite nut butter or low-fat ricotta and sliced fruit. Bananas are a classic choice, but pears and apple slices work well. Even fresh berries make a yummy alternative to jam or jelly.

 

Smash avocado onto toast: Avocados make for a heart-healthy toast topping.

Snack

Midmorning hunger pangs? Satisfy your hunger — and your fruit and veggie needs — with these snack ideas:

Munch on cut-up veggies: Pair carrots, cucumbers, celery, jicama or bell peppers with your favorite dip.

Go for trail mix: Dried fruit also counts! Just 1/4 cup of raisins, dates, dried apricots or cherries is equivalent to a half-cup serving of fresh fruit. Combine it with a couple tablespoons of nuts for a snack that will keep you satisfied.

Have a slice of quick bread: Choose a bread that’s packed with zucchini, carrots, apples, pumpkin or banana for an extra boost. You might not get a full serving of fruits or vegetables, but it all adds up! 

Lunch

Don't miss an opportunity to get fruits and vegetables into your lunch.

Load your sandwich with veggies: Whether you're making it yourself or ordering out, make sure to pile veggies onto your sandwich; lettuce or spinach, tomatoes, avocado, grated carrots, and sliced cucumber or sprouts all work.

Have a piece of fruit on the side: Choose a small apple or pear instead of chips.

Order a salad: You can add other yummy ingredients to make this a satisfying meal, but simply starting off with a base of greens guarantees you're getting a lot of your veggies for the day.

Dinner

It’s pretty common to plan dinner first by choosing the protein, then the starch and sides. To make a more veggie-centric plate, choose the vegetable first. What’s in season? What looks good at the market? Regardless of whether you’re having a vegetarian meal or one with meat, making vegetables the star of the show will make sure that you eat — and enjoy — veggies at dinner.

Dessert

Yes, even dessert is an opportunity to get more fruit into your day. Of course, you could find that a piece of fruit or bowl of berries satisfies your sweet tooth (which would be great!), but if you want something a little bit more decadent, add a dollop of whipped cream (it adds only 16 calories per 2 tablespoons). And if you’re making a full-on dessert, try a fruit crisp.

Make Fruits and Vegetables More Convenient

Keep a fruit bowl out on the counter: Seeing it will remind you to eat it.

Roast or grill veggies once a week: Keep cooked veggies in your fridge for an easy salad topper or side.

Wash lettuce and store it in your salad spinner: It will be ready for you to use and will keep well for a few days.

Store cut-up veggies in your fridge: They'll make for an easy-to-pack snack.

Always bring a piece of fruit with you: Fruit is great to have at work for when hunger strikes.

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