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Three Tips for Incorporating Fruits and Vegetables into Your Daily Meal

Photo: Courtesy of Jordan Christian

Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN

President & CEO, Produce for Better Health Foundation

As a working mom I get it – life can be crazy. The good news is healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. 

The solution is simple: feed your family more fruits and vegetables. I’m not just talking about salads. I’m talking all forms of these fabulous and flavorful foods — think zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, dried fruits, fruit and salsa cups,100 percent fruit juice…the list goes on. However, the statistics remain alarming — nine out of 10 Americans do not eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.[1] [2]

That’s where the Have A Plant® Movement comes in, motivating Americans with actionable and realistic steps to connect eating fruits and vegetables with feeling happier and healthier. 

A recent study published in “Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition confirms that eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day has benefits far beyond nutrition. Eating more fruits and vegetables was also found to extend both life expectancy and quality of life. And who doesn’t want that? 

Need some motivation to get started? Here are my top three tip

1. Stock up for convenience 

Always keep frozen and canned fruits and veggies in the house. You can whip up a delicious plant-packed stir-fry or whole-grain pasta primavera for dinner in a flash, and you won’t have to visit the store as often. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll feel good knowing that you prepared a nutritious home-cooked meal. 

2. Transform vegetables from everyday to gourmet

While your kids may not love my favorite roasted butternut squash, I guarantee they will flip for this butternut squash mac ‘n cheese from registered dietitian and Have A Plant® friend, Emily Parent. It’s comfort food for your kiddos without any of the mom guilt.

3. Jazz up everyday favorites

Spice up go-to dishes in fun ways. For example, serve baked potatoes with a handful of broccoli and low-fat cheddar cheese on top to amp up the nutrition and the flavor; bulk up burgers with veggie puree or chopped mushrooms; add dark leafy greens and berries into smoothies; place some finely grated zucchini into pancake mix; or enjoy dates stuffed with almond butter or grilled peaches for dessert.

[1] DGAC. 2015. Scientific report of the 2015 Dietary Gudelines Advisory Committee: Advisory report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the secretary of agriculture. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

[2] USDA. 2018a. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Accessed May 4, 2018.

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