Whether you’re a picky eater in search of ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, or you have a child who perpetually leaves “the healthy stuff” on his plate, I’m here to help. There are plenty of creative techniques that will assist you in your efforts in meeting your nutritional needs, without feeling like you are forcing yourself to eat things that you dislike. Keep reading for a few easy tips.
Purée or dice them
Mashing, processing, or blending a cooked fruit or vegetable, create a purée.
Traditionally, the skin and seeds will be removed and liquid will be added, to create a smoother end result. You can purée an array of foods such as carrots, beets, bananas, and blueberries; the possibilities are endless. Fruits and veggies can even be combined to double the benefit. Purées can be used as a base for soups, smoothies, and sauces. Depending on your choice of ingredient, purées can also add fun and vivid color to foods, which increases their visual appeal to children. A win-win.
Dicing means cutting into small chunks. Diced vegetables add color, flavor, and important vitamins to dishes. Many recipes like salads, pasta sauces or egg rolls already include diced vegetables, but they can be added to other foods as well. Below are a few examples:
· Scrambled eggs with diced asparagus, red bell peppers, and onions
· Rice/quinoa with diced mushrooms and broccoli
· Flaked tuna with diced carrots, celery, and grapes
If dicing is too difficult (raw carrots are hard to dice) try using a peeler or food processor to make the process a bit easier.
Make fruits and vegetables look like other tasty foods.
Popular foods like fries, chips, pasta and ice cream can be elevated to fit into a healthy lifestyle. Simply replacing the core ingredients with nutrient dense foods can make all the difference.
Here are a few substitutions that will leave your whole family wanting more:
· Zucchini fries
· Carrot fries
· Beet fries
· Apple fries
· Kale chips
· Banana chips
· Apple chips
· Eggplant chips
Pasta (*use a spiralizer)
· Spaghetti squash
· Eggplant lasagna noodles
· *Carrot noodles
· *Zoodles (zucchini noodles)
(Blended frozen bananas are the base for “Nana Cream”. Nicecream can be combined with other fruits, purées, and flavors to increase the taste complexity)
· Fruit popsicles
(Purées, mixed with chopped fruits, can be frozen to create healthy popsicles)
· Yogurt popsicles
(Greek, dairy-free, or traditional yogurt, with added fruits, make a perfect frozen treat)
· Cauliflower crust
(After pulverizing the cauliflower in a food processor, combine it with garlic, herbs, egg, and spices, then bake)
Fruits have been baked into muffins, breads, and cakes for centuries, but did you know that vegetables could be included too? Most of us only have extensive experience with carrot cake, a fan favorite, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
A list of untraditional (vegetable based) baked goods:
· Zucchini bread
· Red beet pancakes
· Coconut butternut squash bread
· Chocolate avocado cake
· Spinach muffins
· Cauliflower bagel bites
· Chickpea peanut butter cookies
Fruits and vegetables are a vital part of sustaining any healthy diet. Each meal should contain at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable. Reaching that goal doesn’t have to be difficult. Be creative when preparing your food and use the tips above as a guide. Before you know it, you’ll have formed a habit of eating foods that are both delicious, and good for you.