Suggestions for Adding Vegetables and Fruits to Your Diet

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Fruits and VegetablesEvery Day or Week

  • Try one new fruit or vegetable each week and/ or try one new fruit or vegetable recipe each week.
  • Prepare and store fruits and vegetables in advance for a convenient healthy snack.
  • Double normal serving sizes for vegetables (a serving is 1/2 cup cooked or raw chopped veggies, 1 cup raw leafy greens, 1/2 cup fresh fruit, or 1/4 cup dried fruit)
  • Fill half your plate with fruits and/or vegetables at every meal and snack.
  • Keep frozen veggies on hand to add to soups, stir-fries, and chili.

For Breakfast

  • Eat fruit with hot or cold cereal (not just bananas but also apples, grapes, peaches, mandarin oranges, and berries). Also add unsweetened dried fruits to cereals (a serving is 1/4 cup).
  • Try a fruit smoothie; add fruit to milk or milk substitute (e.g. almond, rice, soy, hazelnut) and blend.

For a Snack

  • Add fruit to cottage cheese or yogurt for a snack.
  • Eat fresh fruit as a snack (a serving of fruit is 1/2 cup or 1 medium piece).
  • Have veggies (e.g. carrots, peppers, asparagus) with hummus or your favorite dip.
  • Frozen fruit, such as grapes and bananas make healthy iced snacks.
  • Try homemade trail mix. Add unsweetened dried fruits like raisins and apricots to nuts and seeds like almonds and sunflower seeds.
  • Bake kale to make kale chips instead of potato chips.
  • Bake sweet potatoes for a healthy alternative to French fries.

For Lunch or Dinner

  • Top a baked potato or pasta with steamed vegetables.
  • Substitute pasta with spaghetti squash or combine them.
  • Add vegetables to favorite entrees. For example: add peppers and broccoli to spaghetti or top pizza with spinach and onions.
  • Try veggie burgers toped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms or salsa.
  • Try vegetables on the grill, marinate for extra flavor, and eat plain or as a sandwich.

For Dessert

  • Eat dried fruit (dried apricots, apples, or plums) instead of candy (a serving is 1/4 cup).
  • Drink fruit or vegetable juice instead of soft drinks; choose 100% unsweetened juices. Add seltzer water for a fruit juice “soda.”
  • Have fruit salad for dessert (layer a fruit parfait with yogurt or add a few chocolate shavings or nuts to a bowl of fruit).

As a Condiment

  • Salsa can also be used as a dip for vegetables or a topping for a baked potato.
  • Use mashed avocado instead of mayonnaise on sandwiches.

For Parties

  • Take raw vegetable platters to parties (include raw sweet potato sticks, asparagus, green beans, jimica, red pepper rings, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, in addition to the usual carrot and celery sticks).
  • Take a mixed green salad to parties. Challenge yourself to see how many colors you can include in one salad. For example: raw spinach (green), yellow peppers, tomatoes (red), cabbage (purple), and carrots (orange).

When Eating Out

  • Eat more ethnic dishes (e.g. Italian pasta primavera, Moroccan stew, Mexican vegetable enchilada, Spanish paella, Oriental stir-frys, Indian curries, Greek vegetable moussaka, Provencal ratatouille).
  • Ask for an extra side of vegetables.

Just for Fun

  • Make fruit kabobs (use pineapple, bananas, strawberries).
  • Freeze 100% juice to make healthy popsicles.

About the author

Melissa Kavanaugh is a first year graduate student at Drexel University. She is working towards her Masters in Human Nutrition and is completing the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian. Melissa earned her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University in Accounting and Finance and worked in industry for 4 years before deciding to change careers and pursue her true passions: nutrition and fitness. In addition to nutrition, Melissa went back to school for fitness and currently holds Personal Training and Group Fitness certifications from the American Council on Exercise. She teaches weekly ballet bar and strength training classes in addition to working one on one with clients to achieve their fitness goals. Melissa enjoys cooking and creating fun and easy recipes. She is excited and honored to be a contributor to Oncolink.