Whether you’re a baby boomer, an older adult, or even a youngster, and you’ve read my blogs before, you know I’m a huge proponent of fruits and vegetables! Adequate intake of these foods floods your body with phytochemicals–tiny life-sustaining micronutrients found only in plants.
Phytochemicals can reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of oxidative stress (act as anti-oxidants), stimulate the immune system, and activate insulin receptors, among other benefits. As a result, consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of:
- cardiovascular disease
- breast, lung, and colon cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
And because we’re not kind to our bodies in many ways (we eat lots of fast foods, we’re overweight/obese, we consume a diet high in processed foods, our produce is picked weeks before peak ripeness), the recommended amount has increased over the years to a whopping 7 – 13 fist-sized servings per day! Whoah, that’s a lot of fruits and vegetables! And who in the heck is able to consume that much? Certainly nobody I know, including myself!
But with the need being so critical, especially now, how can we intentionally get more of these powerful foods in our diets? Here are my five easiest tips to boost the nutritional foundation of your health.
1) Get ‘er done early in the day! Be creative with your breakfast to consume at least one serving of fruit/veggies in the AM.
- Add spinach, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, or grated zucchini to an egg or tofu scramble.
- Sprinkle strawberries on your Greek or soy yogurt.
- Add sliced peaches on top of your whole-wheat pancakes or waffles.
- Top your high-fiber, low-sugar hot or cold cereal with blueberries or sliced apples.
- Explore frozen fruit; it’s usually packed at peak season with nutrition content comparable to fresh fruit, and it lasts longer.
2) Drink it!
There are endless possibilities for fruit and vegetable smoothies. And these can be used for snacks or meals (think breakfast)! Start with a plant-based smoothie/protein powder. This is an easy way to get fiber and phytochemicals not available from a whey-based product. And then add your favorite plant-based milk, and let your imagination guide you:
- spinach, green apple, cinnamon, and nutmeg for an apple pie smoothie
- frozen or fresh strawberries for a pretty-in-pink refresher
- canned pumpkin, a ripe banana, and pumpkin spice for a fall smoothie
- frozen cherries with chocolate smoothie mix make a yummy “dessert” drink
- orange juice and a very ripe banana for your orange julius
The combinations are limitless!
3) Supersize your salad!
I love fresh salads, but hate all the washing and chopping. So I make a large salad that lasts at least two to three meals.
- Start with your favorite colorful veggies and a large bowl (one that you can seal or cover effectively).
- You can add chopped nuts or any kind of seed.
- You can even thrown in fruits such as sliced grapes, strawberries, or oranges.
- Do NOT put the salad dressing on.
- Cover and refrigerate leftover salad for up to three days for maximum freshness.
Voila, fresh veggies, with the time and mess of preparing only two – three times per week!
4) Help yourself “see” these foods!
Follow the advice from food behavior researcher Brian Wansink of Cornell University. He’s discovered simple ways we can encourage better eating, an approach he’s coined as the “C.A.N.” method.
a) Make healthy foods “convenient” so they’re easy to see and consume.
b) Make these items “attractive” in appearance.
c) And finally, make consuming them “normal.”
Some examples of this method include: Place healthy produce within easy reach while “hiding” unhealthy items at the back of shelves or in difficult-to-reach places. Display fruit in an attractive bowl. Instead of buying grapes and hiding them in a refrigerator drawer, rinse them when you get home from the store, cut big bunches into smaller ones, and place them on the middle shelf of the refrigerator (not hidden in a drawer) where you’ll be reminded to grab them more often!
5) Bridge the nutrition gap with Juice Plus+!
These concentrated fruit, vegetable, and berry powders contain the micronutrients of 30 different plants. They’re a great way to simplify your family’s life with a large variety of produce, every day! Backed by more than 30 peer-reviewed, published scientific studies, these solutions are proven to support heart health, the immune system, skin health, and other important aspects of health and wellness.
Check out my website for more information.