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While healthy food trends and diets come and go, one that remains steady is eating fruits and veggies. Not only do they contain important nutrients, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. However, consuming the required five servings a day isn’t always easy. Sometimes fresh produce is hard to find, or too expensive. And sometimes, it’s just easier to eat what we’re craving versus what’s good for us. To help overcome some of these challenges, we’re sharing a few simple ways to include more fruits and veggies into your diet.
Lettuce is not just for salads
To make sandwiches and wraps healthier, stuff them with lettuce. The darker the leaves, the more rich they are in essential nutrients. Even just a few leaves give your sandwich a healthy boost and a satisfying crunch. To take it a step further, you can skip the bread or tortillas and make a lettuce wrap.
For those on a tight budget, frozen produce can be an economical option. Sometimes it’s easier to find than fresh. Contrary to popular belief, frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good for you. In fact, freezing helps lock in nutrients. (However, the same is not true for canned). And, with frozen, you don’t have to worry about fruits and veggies spoiling before you eat them. So, stock up on frozen produce and you’ll always have fruits and veggies on hand for a side dish or to add to soups, salads, casseroles, omelets and more.
Berry happy and healthy
Raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are an easy way to add vitamins and a little color to mealtime. Throw them in a salad, yogurt, hot or cold cereal or on top of pancakes. Try a handful of berries in a glass of water to give it a healthy zing. Remember, frozen is just as good. Just thaw a cup at a time and toss them in your recipe.
All about avocado
Packed with nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, avocados are very nutritious. And they’re versatile. You can add them to salads, sandwiches, burgers, or mix one with a can of tuna for a healthier version of tuna salad. They are even good for breakfast with eggs, on toast or in a smoothie.
Super spaghetti sauce
Next time you’re making pasta, add vegetables right into the sauce. Anything goes: mushrooms, broccoli, peas, spinach, or bell peppers. Not only does it add more flavor and nutrients, but it makes for a heartier meal.
Veggies x 2
This one is really easy. Whether it’s soup, salad, pasta, pizza or quesadillas you’re making, double the amount of veggies. You’ll instantly have twice the amount of vitamins and minerals.
Fruit + salad
Top traditional salad greens with oranges, strawberries or grapefruit to make it even more healthy. Dried fruits like cranberries and raisins are good too but, since they contain a high amount of sugar, use them sparingly.
Making fresh produce accessible
Research shows that thousands of Chicagoans live in food deserts — areas where finding quality food and fresh produce is difficult to find. To combat that, ACCESS works with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, on a food for health program that links patients to fresh produce and food throughout our network. To learn more about these services, please call us for an appointment.