Five Ways to Get Fruits & Veggies into Your Family's Day Today

Have you ever felt your family doesn't eat enough fruits and vegetables?  If you're like most American households, you're probably right.  Like we saw in the May Wellness Challenge post, it is suggested that we eat between FIVE and THIRTEEN servings a day (the current average is THREE a day).  If this sounds like a struggle you've dealt with in your home, here are five easy ways to get veggies into your family's day.  Starting today.

1. Use spinach (or kale or herbs) as a pizza topping or for rice or pasta sides (or eggplant as the pizza crust--see below). 
By adding whole or cut spinach to dishes you already make, you increase their nutritional content.  Spinach provides vitamins C and K, as well as antioxidants and beta-carotene.  Usually, we throw a handful of frozen chopped spinach in or use our fancy and fabulous herb scissors to chop up fresh spinach into all rice and pasta dishes.  This might even be a fun job for a mealtime helper to do.  And everyone will be surprised at how little it alters the taste of the dish.

photo of quicker than a quesadilla pizza
click for recipe

photo of spinach alfredo pasta
click for recipe
photo of eggplant pizza
click for recipe

2. Make a fruit/ vegetable smoothie for dessert (or a snack). 
Smoothies are a fabulous breakfast--which I have mentioned in almost every Making Mindfulness post thus far, because I am so obsessed--but they can also make a great dessert.  If your family loves ice cream, milkshakes, or pie after dinner, this could be a perfect (veggie-filled) alternative. 

About nine months ago, I bought the Forks Over Knives cookbook.  It is fabulous--filled with tons of ideas to create plant-based foods and recreate old favorites.  One recipe that I've made several times is the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.  I've modified the original recipe, but either version is delicious!  If you like pumpkin pie, you won't be disappointed!

- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (adapted from the Forks Over Knives cookbook):

1/2 c pumpkin puree
3/4 - 1 c almond milk, milk, or water (we do almond milk)
4 chopped dates (or if you don't always have dates in your cupboard, 1/4 - 1/3 c of raisins)*
1/4 t ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg or allspice

dates (before chopping)
an equal amount of raisins

* I've tried it with dates and with raisins and both taste great!

1/2 c ice cubes
1/4 t vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in blender.  Puree until smooth.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie! Yum!

OR try a

Chocolate Peanut Butter [Veggie] Dessert Smoothie
click for recipe

Check out The Year of the Vegan blog; she also tried this recipe and others from the cookbook and loved them!

3. Take (sneaky!) hints from pros: The Sneaky Chef or Jessica Seinfeld, author of Deceptively Delicious. 
If your family is particularly resistant to eating vegetables, you just may have to enlist some experts.  Before Danny and I got married, I started lovingly sneaking as many fruits/ vegetables into his food as I was able.  He slowly came around and now he eats them happily and willingly.  This may or may not happen, but serving an extra dose of love in the form of nutrition can't possibly hurt--even if it is sneaky!  The prep work is just like making baby food or purees for soups.  Below are a few recipes with pictures from each of them.  If you like what you see here, you can find their books at your local bookstore, online, or at the library.

The Sneaky Chef's recipes:
Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Light Mac N Cheese
or try her Barbell Burger

Jessica Seinfeld's recipes:
- Quesadillas (with butternut squash)
- Crock-Pot Lasagna
or try her Protein-Packed Grilled Cheese

4. Make it a salad. 
Making beans and rice?  Pile it on top of a bed of lettuce.  Grilling chicken and vegetables?  Place on a plate of spinach.  Sick of egg or chicken salad sandwiches?  Convert it to a conventional salad.  Taco Tuesday?  Try Taco Salad Sunday.  Many meals can become delicious salads.  If you have the lettuce and spinach on hand, it will be an easy change to make.

lettuce be a delicious salad!

I usually go with spinach vs. lettuce because
1. it has more nutritional content than most lettuces
2. I prefer the taste
3. I already buy spinach for smoothies
4. I find it doesn't go bad as quickly
5. you can sauté it if you're sick of eating it raw (or it has the potential to go bad before you can eat it)

top with whatever

5. Create some soup, soup, beautiful soup. 
Even though it's no longer winter, soup can still be a great way to get in any number of vegetables or purees.  Before vegetables go bad, you can combine them in a soup.   Usually, you can even freeze soups to enjoy later.  A great one to try, if you want a colorful treat is my Sweet & Bright: Sweet Potato Black Bean Soup.  Not only is it delicious, it's easy!  And if your house prefers the thickness of chili, you can simply include a puree or omit some of the broth.

sweet potato black bean soup + kale, pre broth

sweet potato and kale black bean soup in the slow cooker

If you're doing the May Wellness Challenge, keep it up!   (You're almost halfway finished!)  I hope you're beginning to feel better and healthy choices are coming easier to you. 

Please keep me updated via the comments below or on the Making Mindfulness Facebook page.

Labels: , ,