How to Add More Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet

By Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN

(EVEN FOR THE PICKIEST OF EATERS)

GET SHREDDED

Grab a box grater or the grating attachment on your food processor to shred zucchini, beets, carrots or parsnips to add to all sorts of recipes. Add a vegetable serving to your favorite whole-grain muffins and quick breads by mixing shredded zucchini into your batter before baking. You can also sauté shredded carrots, summer squash or butternut squash for about five minutes before adding them to pasta sauce for a quick, veggie-filled meal. Even your pickiest of eaters may not notice!

HAVE SOME FUN(GI)…MUSHROOMS, THAT IS

Replace half the ground meat in recipes like burgers, meatloaf and meatballs with cooked chopped mushrooms. Finely chop your choice of mushrooms using a knife or a food processor, then sauté in a little olive oil until soft — about three minutes or so. Once the mushrooms are cool, gently mix them with your lean ground chicken, turkey or beef. Cook thoroughly and follow the recipe as is.

SAY CHEESE

Cooked and pureed orange vegetables like butternut squash, sweet potatoes and carrots can be blended, unnoticed, into cheesy dishes we all love like macaroni and cheese, lasagna or baked enchiladas. You end up using less cheese, which cuts some of the saturated fat and sodium. You can also add the sweeter-tasting veggies to a blender with some low sodium broth and puree them into a smooth soup.

SMOOTH OPERATOR

Grab that blender and put it to work! When you’re making your favorite fruit smoothie, add in a frozen banana and some spinach, carrots, squash or just about any vegetable (cooked is easier to blend). The frozen banana makes for a sweet, thick and creamy smoothie and it adds a strong banana flavor that helps hide the flavor of the veggies. Want a more colorful smoothie? Try adding beet, avocado or sweet potato to change the tint.

Source: American Heart Association

Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN
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