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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Ways to Incorporate More Fruits and Veggies in Our Diet

Continuing from yesterday's post . . .

Can we discuss different ways we have found to incorporate more fruits and vegetables each day?

I thought through some of the things that have been helping me to increase my own intake. Here's what's been helping me:

  • preparing vegetables in a variety of ways -- steamed, pureed, oven-roasted, grilled. Changing up how I prepare the veggies keeps me interested in eating them.
  • using different sources of pureed fruits and vegetables -- baby food, canned pumpkin, applesauce, tomato paste/sauce,  canned vegetables to be pureed at home. 
  • I use my food processor, immersion blender and pitcher blender regularly. Each appliance has it's best use. The immersion blender is great for soups, sauces, and gravies. The food processor is my best appliance for thicker purees, like hummus and cooked vegetables. The pitcher blender is what I use for smoothies, with lots of expansion room and a lid to prevent splatters.
  • To any dish with a smooth, pureed, or creamy texture, I add pureed or powdered fruits or vegetables. This would be soups, gravies, sauces (cheese sauce for mac and cheese), smoothies, dips/hummus.
  • Baby food fruits or vegetables can be used in place of some of the fats in baking.
  • Dips can be made healthier by adding a spoonful of pureed carrots, squash, or spinach to the sour cream base.
  • In the afternoon, when I might have a cup of tea or coffee, if I haven't had enough produce that day, I "drink" a cup of vegetable soup instead.
  • I add vegetable powder or pureed vegetables to many dessert items. Chocolate and cocoa powder can hide a few tablespoons of pureed spinach or carrots. Cinnamon and other sweet spices can hide the taste of pumpkin, carrots, yams, and zucchini.
  • Also, I choose fruit or vegetable-based desserts often.
  • Pureed vegetables are great to help thicken the broth in soups.
  • I try to include a vegetable (or fruit we eat as a veggie) with breakfast. For example, if having an egg for breakfast, I add a grilled tomato on the side. I add a spoonful of pureed pumpkin or carrot to hot cereal, yogurt, or smoothies. I spread toast with avocado instead of butter, when in season.
  • Grated fresh carrot or apple can be mixed into peanut butter.
  • Bean spreads with pureed veggies added make nice sandwich spreads.
  • When making sandwiches, I'm liberal with the addition of vegetables -- roasted sliced veggies, chopped fresh greens, and sliced tomatoes. Grilled sliced eggplant is almost meaty on a bean-spread sandwich.
  • I try not to think of it as 5+ large piles of fruits or vegetables. Instead, I think in terms of small amounts of fruits and vegetables many, many times per day.
  • We top rice, potatoes, pasta, and vegetables with dips, salsas, and pestos instead of butter or gravy.
  • I sometimes use vegetables as the base for pasta sauce.

If you're just starting to increase your fruits and vegetables, do so gradually. I've gotten too enthusiastic in this area before and paid for it with terrible digestive pain.

The tastiest thing I've made this week that had extra veggies added was hummus with some leafy greens pureed into the garbanzo beans.

How about you? What are your best ways to sneak in a few extra fruits or veggies? What's been your tastiest extra veggie creation?


  1. You have given an extensive list on different ways to incorporate more produce into our diets. The variety of ways, not only keeps interest, but allows for some nutrition that may be lost in different ways of preparing them. One way may reduce the fiber but keep the all of the vitamins. Another way may reduce the vitamins, but keep the fiber, etc.

    Quite simply, for me, I eat more produce if I take time to prepare it. If I want a snack or am figuring out what to cook, I am much more likely to use something I have already cleaned and cut up. I haven't yet used vegetable powders, but I see that they are the "in" thing now and may have to try them. They seem the easiest way to sneak vegetables into something.

    1. That's a good point, Live and Learn, that preparing produce in different ways gives us balanced nutritional benefits.

      I'm the same way about eating produce that is already prepared. I sometimes cut up a bunch of carrots and set a plate of them out on the counter. I know that I'll eat more of them and so will my family.

  2. Great list! This is something I'm working on as well. Something else I'm adding to it is to learn to eat veggies I didn't grow up eating or already begin to eat, such as beets. Yesterday, I cut up and roasted a pan and purposely made extra to eat today.

    One simple method we use is simply to substitute spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles out as the base for spaghetti sauce or other dishes typically served over noodles. Reduces the carbs as well, for those looking to do that.

    1. Hi Cat,
      Making extra so that you will eat more later is a really good way to get yourself to eat more veggies. I need to do that more often when making dinner.

      I love spaghetti sauce served over vegetables in place of noodles or with less pasta. Reduced carbs is better for me anyway! This is a way of rethinking how we do meals -- excellent!

  3. My family practically stands up and cheers when I make chocolate dip out of avocados. 2 ripe avocados, mashed, combined with 1/4 to 1/2 cup honey and 1/4 cup cocoa powder. I use a mixer but an immersion blender would work well here. I throw in a dab of vanilla and cinnamon sometimes. Then I cut up fruit to dip in it.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Wow, I've never heard of an avocado chocolate dip. I'll trust your word that this is delicious, even if it goes against what I've previously thought avocados can be mixed with. This is such a great idea. Thanks!


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