4 ways to eat more fruits and veggies

You've heard it before… Americans just aren't getting enough fruits and vegetables. And as the foundation of a healthy diet, consider fruits and vegetables your fountain of youth. Rich in vitamins, nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and water, it's hard to understand how so many can resist that gorgeous nutritional profile. But the hard facts tell us that less than 30% of us - that's seven out of every ten Americans - are failing to meet the recommended 5 A Day.

Enter in The 12 Healthy Habits. We're not asking for a revolution. Just a few small and very simple changes to make you eat better, feel better, and create an overall new sense of well-being. Step one: Eat more Fruits & Veggies. Yes, we are actually asking you to eat more of something. How often do you get to hear that? Here are 4 simple ways to get you eating veggies and fruits today.

See More: Superfast Vegetarian Recipes

Tip 1. Double the Veggies

In soups, salads, pastas, sandwiches, pizzas, and casseroles, most recipes call for a certain amount of vegetables. Our advice? Double the amount called for in the original recipe. You are already doing the prep work; so a little extra chopping can go a long way for your vegetable intake.

  • Stir extra veggies into soups. Don't be afraid to steer off the beaten recipe path just a bit. When it comes to something like soups, an overdoes of chopped vegetables will not ruin the recipe. It will enhance the flavor, nutritional value, and your daily vegetable tally. A half cup of chopped vegetables and a whole cup of dark leafy greens is another serving. In White Bean Soup with Kale and Chorizo (shown), you can double the amount of kale or add chopped carrots, celery, red bell peppers, zucchini...the possibilities are endless.
  • Pile them on the pizza. Don't hold back on the veggies! Add extra veggies to a frozen pizza, order double veggies from delivery, or create your own where the sky is the limit.
  • Cram them into casseroles. Cooking up a Mexican casserole? Add some extra peppers, mushrooms, and squash. Don't be shy with topping with tomato- and veggie-heavy salsa, either. Eggplant Parmesan? Double the eggplant. Chicken Pot Pie? Double the peas and carrots. You've got the idea.
  • Stuff them into sandwiches. A sandwich is another blank canvas just waiting to get stuffed with color. Take your routine turkey sandwich and jazz it up with sliced apples, cucumber, zucchini, sprouts, and spinach. A 1/2 cup of this colorful combination just scored you another serving.

View Recipe: Biscuit-Topped Chicken Potpie

See More: 100 Easy Chicken Recipes

Tip 2. Don't Skip Dessert

Desserts tend to be regarded as a sweet treat for special occasions only. But a fruit-based dessert has the ability to offer a light, refreshing, naturally-sweet ending to a satisfying meal, with the added bonus of an extra fruit serving.

  • Take those plain old bananas and grapes to a whole new level with a freezing frenzy. Freeze grapes and bananas for a super satisfying, pop-able delight. For an added yum-factor, dip half a banana in a small amount of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

  • Blend up some fresh fruit with 1/2 cup low fat yogurt or 100% fruit juice for delightfully refreshing fruit popsicles.

  • Eating ice cream or frozen yogurt? Pile on 1/2 cup of fresh peaches, mangos or berries for a serving of fruit.

  • Cut out the crust. Our favorite fruit pie recipes get placed on the "special occasions" list for one reason only: the buttery, fat-laden crust. The solution? Get rid of it. Place the filling of your favorite fruit (or pumpkin, as shown) pie recipe in individual ramekins. Bake until set and enjoy a serving of warm, satisfying fruit pie without the rich crust.

See More: Our Favorite Peach Recipes

Tip 3. Dig the Dip

Do fresh fruits and veggies sound boring? Whip up a delicious dip and turn those healthy crudités into party food.

  • Go sweet. Dip apple wedges, pears, sliced bananas, mango, and pineapple spears in Caramel Sauce or our Creamy Pumpkin Dip for a satisfying dessert or snack.

  • Go savory. We get it. Not everyone gets excited when they look at a plate of raw vegetables. But pair them with a nutty hummus, zesty ranch, creamy avocado, and fiery salsa and now we're talking. Crunchy crudités take on a whole new life with just a smidge of extra punch from a flavor-packed dip, like our creamy Garlic-Herb Dip (shown).

  • Go store-bought. You've taken the time to cut and pre-portion your dip-able delights, but we don't all have time to make everything from scratch. There are some great lightened-up store-bought dips that pair perfectly with our crunchy crudités. Check the produce and deli selections of your local grocery store for available selections.

  • We did the work for you in our 2010 Taste Test. We chose Tribe Classic as our grand-prize winner for its fresh flavor, with just the right hint of sesame, cumin, and garlic. Our Taste Test Award went to Athenos Original, perfect for garlic lovers. Both are just the right accompaniment to a bowlful of veggies.

See More: See all our 2010 Taste Test Award Winners

Tip 4. Bag the Bread
  • We're not playing nutrition police on the bread group. Carbohydrates are an essential energy-boosting part of a healthy diet. Let's just say most of us do not struggle to get enough of our daily bread. Try replacing one bread serving a day with a fruit or vegetable, and you'll be a step ahead.
  • Love the lettuce wrap. Instead of bread or tortillas, make your next sandwich or wrap inside a leafy green. Stack 2 or 3 large, leafy greens such as Bibb lettuce, romaine, red lettuce, cabbage, or radicchio and pile on the fixings. Enjoy the added crunch factor.
View Recipe: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
View All of the Ways to Eat More Fruits and Veggies
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